By Tara Guastella
We are excited to announce that 24 scientists from around the country have been awarded an Emerging Research Grant (ERG) for the 2013 funding cycle. Our grants are designed for researchers new to the field of hearing and balance science continuing a tradition which began over half a century ago.
The goal of the Emerging Research Grants program is to provide junior investigators seed funding so they can gather enough data and then move on to compete for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH funding allows these researchers to further their careers, and the hearing research field, with longer, more sustained levels of funding.
We track the impact of our Emerging Researchers as they continue their work. Research that we have funded has led to dramatic innovations that increase options for those living with hearing loss as well as protecting those at risk. Many of our grants have led to today’s standard treatments such as cochlear implants, treatments for otitis media (ear infections), and surgical therapy for otosclerosis.
This year’s group of grantees are researching topics such as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), hair cell regeneration, Ménière’s disease, ototoxicity (or hearing loss that occurs from certain medications), tinnitus, and Usher syndrome.
This year’s funding cycle marked one of the largest increases in qualified applications we received for this program. While interest in hearing and balance research continues to grow, this also made the grant review process and funding decisions even more challenging. “This year’s pool of applicants was the most competitive in our organization’s 55-year history,” says Peter S. Steyger, Ph.D., HHF’s scientific director. “I have never seen so many qualified applicants with truly exceptional research endeavors in my time at the HHF. Funding decisions were extremely difficult.”
One Emerging Researcher, Alan Kan, Ph.D. (pictured above), aims to close the gap in speech understanding performance between cochlear implant users and normal hearing listeners. The primary outcome of his study will help determine whether the “better ear” strategy, attending to a target talker in the “better ear” withprocessing that separates the target talker’s speech from a noisy background, will provide a significant benefit for cochlear implant users. This work also has implications for those with CAPD and the ability to process sounds between ears. Dr. Kan is being funded by the Royal Arch Masons who support researchers studying CAPD. We thank them for their generous support.
Your donations help fund our Emerging Research Grants program, kickstarting the careers of the next generation of hearing research scientists. Thank you for helping us to prevent and cure hearing loss and tinnitus. Please make a donation today.