Charlie Rose TV program focuses on deafness and the cochlear implant

Charlie Rose interviews eminent auditory scientists on a program featuring a winner of the 2013 Lasker Medical Research Award for development of the cochlear implant. Watch the program here:

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Memoir Tells Remarkable Story of Success Despite Hearing Loss

“I have just finished reading “Song Without Words (Discovering My Deafness Halfway Through Life)” by Gerald Shea. This book has been very well researched and there is a great deal of valuable and interesting information in it. It’s a good read, and I recommend it highly.”

-Geraldine Fox

According to the cover flap, it is the “astonishing story of a man who, at the age of 34, discovered that he had been deaf since childhood, yet somehow, had managed to navigate his way throughAndover, Yale andColumbiaLawSchooland to establish a prestigious international legal career.”

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Cochlear Implant Innovators Receive Prestigious Recognition

Three eminent scientists were presented with the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award in New York City on September 20, 2013 “for the development of the modern cochlear implant—a device that bestows hearing to individuals with profound deafness.”

The Lasker Foundation conferred the honor upon Graeme M. Clark (Emeritus, University of Melbourne), Ingeborg Hochmair (MED-EL, Innsbruck) and Blake S. Wilson (Duke University) for “creating an apparatus that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Their work has, for the first time, substantially restored a human sense with medical intervention.”

Representing NOHR, President Geraldine Fox has attended the annual Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation Awards Luncheon for approximately 27 years. Never before has the event been so personally meaningful. She said, “With the spotlight on hearing research and what has been accomplished to change the lives of the deaf and severely hearing impaired, “this year was my most exciting—a dream come true!”

Learn more here about the 2013 Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research Awardees, including video interviews:

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Tinnitus Lecture

For those who are interested in “sitting in” on a professional and sophistcated lecture on tinnitus by one of the lead researcher in the field, here is a video by Richard Salvi, Ph.D., Hearing Research Lab, University of Buffao (NY). Video:

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Mentorship of Young Investigators and NOHR

by Richard Salvi, Ph.D., Hearing Research Lab, University of Buffalo (NY)

A few days ago, I received a phone call Gerry Fox, Director of NOHR informing me that two young investigators at the University at Buffalo, Dr. Wei Sun and Dr. Samson Jamesdaniel had just received grants from NOHR. I was delighted to hear the good news particularly at times like this when grant support is difficult to obtain.

Gerry asked how young investigators were mentored at our Center and why so many new investigators had been successful in obtaining NOHR grants in past years. I had never given this much thought, but looking back I can identify some things our senior scientists have done to mentor young scientists in the art of submitting a successful grant.

I think the first step is to make young investigators aware of the many small grant programs that are available from nonprofit organizations such as NOHR as well as federal organizations. If you don’t know what grants are relevant to your field of study, you won’t know where and when to apply. Small grants have the advantage of being more focused, shorter in length and less challenging to write than large grants from NIH, NSF or DOD.

We talk to our young investigators and encourage them to apply for a grant by making them aware of the funding deadlines and application materials. New investigators are given copies of old grants to help guide new investigators through application process. More senior investigators often ask graduate students and young investigators to assist them with their grant applications; this gives the beginners a chance to participate in the preparation of a grant prior to assembling their own application. Young investigators gain experience and insights on how to write the specific aims, formulate hypotheses, describe their methods and prepare budgets and other administrative documents are submitted to the university and funding agency. Young investigators not only read grants that were successful, but also ones that failed.

An extremely important aspect mentorship is advising young investigators on how to identify a research problem that is scientifically exciting, clinically relevant and technically feasible based on the applicant’s track record and available resources. Even exciting, well written grants are unlikely to get funded without pilot data to support the aims of the grant and results demonstrating technical competency.

Prior to submission, new investigators are encouraged to have their application reviewed by several seasoned researchers. A well written grant is one that has a clear and compelling message, persuasive pilot data and well thought out plan for evaluating and interpreting the results to address the specific aims.

With funding rates of 20% or less, most grant applications are likely to fail of the mark on the first submission. When a young investigator reads a negative grant critique, they tend to over react and perseverate on the negative criticisms rather than taking steps to address each limitation point by point. At this stage, the mentor’s task is to assuage the investigator’s anxiety and to encourage the applicant to concentrate their efforts towards a thoughtful revision of the grant. When a new investigator receives a grant we bring out the champagne and celebrate!

At the Center for Hearing and Deafness we emphasize teamwork, cooperation and collaboration. Modern science is so complex that few individuals can master all the techniques needed to carry out a high impact research project. Mentorship is the art of transmitting new ideas and successful research techniques to the next generation. Once someone has perfected a method in our group, we encourage others to learn how to do it and improve on it. Because equipment funding is limited, there is no need to purchase a microscope for each individual lab. Equipment sharing not only save money, but it also helps new users learn how to operate equipment from experts.

Cooperation and collaboration can be summed up in the advice of my father. Take one small stick, and a man can break it. Bundle all the small stick together and they are unbreakable.


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Advance in Tinnitus-Prevention Research in the News

A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, led by associate professor Thanos Tzounopoulos, reports promising work on drug-related treatment. Read the article:

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NOHR Announces 10 New Scientific Grants of $20,000 each


Adding adaptation to cochlear implant signal processing to enhance dynamic speech features – This proposal hopes to further improve cochlear implant performance using a new implant signal processing algorithm. – Mahan Azadpour, Ph.D. (Syracuse University)

Characterization of Lmo4 nitration in ototoxicity – Although cisplatin is used as a highly effective drug against certain cancers, it can cause hearing loss. This researcher investigates and identifies certain sensitive proteins that cause cell death with the aim of alleviating the harmful effects of cisplatin. – Samson Jamesdaniel, M.D./Ph.D. (The State University of New York, Buffalo)

Examining coordination of Wnt and FGF signaling in controlling hair cell development and regeneration – This proposal investigates the underlying mechanisms that will allow hair cell formation in mammals. – Jason R. Meyers, Ph.D. (Colgate University)

Cortical evoked potential measures of temporal processing – This proposal explores the information that is encoded in a child’s auditory system to advance overall understanding of hearing perception in children listening in competitive acoustic environments –Heather Porter, Ph.D. (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Microbial shifts in the middle ear due to genetic variants that predispose to otitis media – The middle ear infection otitis media affects a large global population. This researcher aims to study the bacterial diversity within the middle ear where there is recurrent or chronic infection and seeks ways to improve treatments and strategies to alleviate otitis media. – Regie Lyn P. Santos-Cortez, M.D./Ph.D. (Baylor College of Medicine)

Animal model of hyperacusis caused by salicylate and noise exposure – Hyperacusis refers to a marked intolerance of ordinary environmental sound and is a common symptom related to a variety of neurological diseases such as migraine, autism and tinnitus. Aim: to determine the loudness perception change caused by high doses of salicylate and noise exposure. – Wei Sun, Ph.D. (The State University of New York, Buffalo)

The functional role of RGMa/Neogenin pathway in spiral ganglion neuron growth and regeneration in the mammalian organ of Corti – With sensoineural hearing loss, patients suffer damages and/or degeneration of the spiral ganglian neurons which are needed to restore hearing. This grant hopes to produce results that are relevant to the regeneration of fibers in cochlea after noise trauma. – Mingjie Tong, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary)

Relationship between acoustic change complex and mismatched negativity in normal and hard-of-hearing infants – This proposal explores the nature of information about speech processing in young infants who cannot provide us with voluntary responses. The question whether physiological techniques can provide information on hearing aid fitting is important and timely. – Kristin, Uhler, Ph.D. (University of Colorado, Denver)

Electric-acoustic stimulation and its cortical representation – This research seeks to understand the speech cues that enable cochlear implant (CI) users to use a CI in one canal and a hearing aid in another. – Yang-soo Yoon, Ph.D. (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center)

Understanding and restoring the USH2 complex in cochlear hair cells –This proposal hopes to significantly advance our understanding of Usher Syndrome, which is a disease that causes inherited deafness and blindness. The particular approach used may also reveal a potential cure for the hearing loss that occurs. – Junhuang Zou, Ph.D. (University of Utah)

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Seeing at the Speed of Sound

A wonderful article in the March/April 2013 issue of Stanford alumni magazine by Rachel Kolb, about her experiences with lipreading. Rachel is a graduate student in English from Albuquerque, N.M., and a Stanford magazine intern.


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Doctors on the move

John Niparko, M.D., formerly of Johns Hopkins, is now professor and chair in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

Lloyd B. Minor, M.D., who was provost at Johns Hopkins University is now Dean of the School of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

David W. Eisele, M.D., is director of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Andelot Professor of Laryngology and Otology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He previously served as chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins from 1988 to 2001.

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Impact of a NOHR Grant on a career in auditory science

Dear Gerry,

Thanks for paying a visit to the Center for Hearing and Balance at Johns Hopkins recently. I very much enjoyed our conversation.

I’d mentioned that I’d received support from the National Organization for Hearing Research/ Geraldine Dietz Fox Foundation at a critical juncture in my career, and wanted to flesh out the details of that story…

I joined the Physiology faculty at theUniversityOfColorado School Of Medicinein 1985 after completing postdoctoral training with Robert Fettiplace at the Physiological Laboratory of theUniversityofCambridgeinEngland. My doctoral and postdoctoral training equipped me to pursue my interest in cellular excitability and synaptic physiology (in nerve and muscle), and with Robert I learned how the inner ear (in that case in turtles!) could be an excellent model system for such pursuits. So, my new laboratory set up to use the inner ear of the chicken to investigate hair cell physiology and synaptic signaling during development, and potentially in the context of regeneration.

By 1990 we’d made good progress and published our work on ion channels that contribute to electrical tuning of hair cells in the chicken, as Fettiplace and colleagues had shown earlier in the turtle. We further showed how these properties arose during development. Meanwhile, we found that we could study the process of efferent inhibition of chicken hair cells (this occurs in all vertebrate ears, including human). In 1992 we received a grant from the National Organization for Hearing Research, the Geraldine Dietz Fox Foundation to build on that initial discovery, and with subsequent NIH funding have continued to explore this, and other, topics since.

Your foundation’s grant arrived as I was approaching a crossroads in my career. To that point I’d maintained an identity as a neurophysiologist who used the inner ear as a model system, but didn’t consider myself a ‘hearing scientist’ per se. Two years later I was negotiating to join the Center for Hearing and Balance here atHopkins, having decided that indeed I would devote my work entirely to the inner ear, and to do so in the hearing and balance scientific community. Of course there were many factors that influenced that decision, but your foundation’s support was a meaningful one that highlighted the humanitarian benefit of this career path, no small consideration.

I joined the Otolaryngology-HNS faculty in 1995. Lloyd Minor made me research director and John E. Bordley Professor in 2004. In 2012 our new director, David Eisele asked me to serve as Vice-chair for Research. So, I have been extraordinarily blessed along the way, with generous and supportive colleagues, strong federal funding, and outstanding students. The move toHopkinssealed my commitment to the field of hearing research. Among the triggers for that move was the vote of confidence your foundation provided in 1992. I’m very pleased I had the opportunity to tell you in person, and only sorry that it’s taken so long to become better acquainted.

-Paul Fuchs, Ph.D.

John E. Bordley Professor and Vice Chair-Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery; Professor of Biomedical Engineering; & Co-director-the Center for Sensory Biology and Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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