The transcription factor atonal homolog 1 (ATOH1) has multiple homologues that are functionally conserved across species and is responsible for the generation of sensory hair cells. To evaluate potential functional differences between homologues, human and mouse ATOH1 (HATH1 and MATH-1, respectively) were nonvirally delivered to human Wharton's jelly cells (hWJCs) for the first time. Delivery of HATH1 to hWJCs demonstrated superior expression of inner ear hair cell markers and characteristics than delivery of MATH-1. Inhibition of HES1 and HES5 signaling further increased the atonal effect. Transfection of hWJCs with HATH1 DNA, HES1 siRNA, and HES5 siRNA displayed positive identification of key hair cell and support cell markers found in the cochlea, as well as a variety of cell shapes, sizes, and features not native to hair cells, suggesting the need for further examination of other cell types induced by HATH1 expression. In the first side-by-side evaluation of HATH1 and MATH-1 in human cells, substantial differences were observed, suggesting that the two atonal homologues may not be interchangeable in human cells, and artificial expression of HATH1 in hWJCs requires further study. In the future, this line of research may lead to engineered systems that would allow for evaluation of drug ototoxicity or potentially even direct therapeutic use.