Alec Salt, PhD

Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery

Mailing address

Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
660 S. Euclid Ave., Campus Box 8115
St. Louis, MO 63110

Research interests

Local Drug Delivery to the Inner Ear   The application of drugs directly to the inner ear is now widely used to treat ear disorders, such as Meniere’s disease and sudden hearing loss. They also have the potential to treat many other conditions, such as tinnitus and hearing loss. We study the pharmacokinetics of drugs in the inner ear, which involves measuring how quickly drugs spread inside the ear, which tissues they reach and what doses are achieved at different locations. Measurements are analyzed and interpreted using computer models we have developed, simulating how drugs spread in the inner ear over time. The models allow drug distribution patterns to be predicted for human ears, allowing drug application procedures to be optimized. 

Drug Delivery in Combination with Cochlear Implants   Although cochlear implants have been highly successful in restoring hearing to deaf patients, they are still a “foreign body” in the ear. Drugs to reduce the immune response to the implant can lower electrode impedances and improve performance. They may also be able to preserve low frequency hearing in implanted patients. We study how best to deliver drugs from cochlear implants, either from in-built cannulas in conjunction with miniature pumps, to drugs incorporated into the silicone of the implant that slowly elute into perilymph. 


  • B.Sc. Biology, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK (1973
  • M.Sc. Neurocommunications, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (1974)
  • Ph.D. Cochlear Physiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (1977)

Selected publications

  1. Salt AN, Hartsock JJ, Piu F, Hou J. Comparison of the pharmacokinetic properties of triamcinolone and dexamethasone for local therapy of the inner ear. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 2019; 13, 347.

  2. Salt AN, Plontke SK. Pharmacokinetic principles in the inner ear: Influence of drug properties on intratympanic applications. Hear Res. 2018; 368:28-40.

  3. Salt AN, Hartsock JJ, Piu F, Hou J. Dexamethasone and dexamethasone-phosphate entry into perilymph compared for middle ear applications in guinea pigs. Audiol Neurootol. 2018; 23:245-257.

  4. Salt A, Hartsock J, Gill R, Smyth D, Kirk J, Verhoeven K. Perilymph pharmacokinetics of marker applied through a cochlear implant in guinea pigs. PLoS One. 2017 12(8):e0183374.

  5. Salt AN, Hartsock JJ, Gill RM, King E, Kraus FB, Plontke SK. Perilymph pharmacokinetics of locally-applied gentamicin in the guinea pig. Hear Res. 2016 342:101-111.

  6. Salt AN, Hartsock JJ, Gill RM, Piu F, Plontke SK. Perilymph pharmacokinetics of markers and dexamethasone applied and sampled at the lateral semi-circular canal. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2012 13(6): 771–783.