Konrad August Noben-Trauth
September 9, 1959 - March 12, 2021

News Obituary
[Star Tribune]

“Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

the last of life, for which the first was made.

Our times are in His hand

who saith, “A whole I planned,

youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”

Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Konrad Noben-Trauth, Ph.D.,J.D.

Educational and professional background

I started my studies in Biology in 1984 at the University of Heidelberg and received my Diploma in 1990.  I was awarded a Heidelberg Scholarship to perform research at the University of Lexington, Kentucky, where I worked from 1988-1989 with Thomas Roszman on the function of beta-adrenergic receptors on human lymphocytes.  I obtained my Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1994 from the University of Freiburg i. B. where I researched under the guidance of Karl-Heinz Klempnauer at the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology on the function of myb transcription factors.  I carried out postdoctoral research in the group of Patsy Nishina and Jürgen Naggert at The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, studying the genetics of obesity (tub) and deafness (dfw). In summer 1997, I joined  the faculty of the National Institutes of Health as independent investigator where I lead a research group studying the molecular genetics of hearing loss. I left NIH in May 2012.  I sought a new intellectual challenge and longed for a profession with enforceable professional and ethical standards.   In Aug. 2013 I started law school and graduated with a J.D. in May 2016 from the William Mitchell Collge of Law.

Research Philosophy

    In my research I am influenced by the skeptical school of the old Greeks, the enlightenment, the critical rationalism, and the idea that ‘anything goes’.  Briefly, think critically, think independently, and resist group thinking.  Question everything (especially authority and conventions), and develop your own ideas and opinions.

     I pursue scientific knowledge for cultural and societal reasons.  In experimental design, execution, and argument, I strive for excellence, quality, and clarity.

Research Interests

I am interested in the genetic architecture of sensorineural hearing loss in the mouse.  The benefits are several fold: the approach identifies molecular factors that play decisive roles in the development and function of the sensory hair cells in the inner ear; it identifies the different forms of inheritance that underlie hearing loss, and furthermore it reveals candidate genes causing hearing loss in the human population.  In this vein, the genetic approach provides molecular tools for diagnostic and prognosis in the clinic and suggests molecular targets and pathways for therapeutic intervention.  Following this strategy, my laboratory has identified numerous novel deafness genes, of which several genes we and others showed also to underlie spontaneous and inherited disease in humans.

The strategy employs a positional cloning approach of mouse strains with hearing loss.  The success of this tactic lies in its simplicity and intellectual modesty.  The approach is completely discovery-oriented and does not rely on any hypotheses or assumptions about the underlying gene and mechanism.  As such it is radically free of academic traditions and prejudices.