News & Events

Outsmarting the Most Common Military Injury: How One Veteran Is Helping Future Generations

By Imani Rodriguez

After 26 years of military service, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) Board Chair Col. John Dillard (U.S. Army, Ret.) lives with tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus is one of the most prevalent war injuries among American veterans—and hearing loss is equally common—and Dillard is dedicated to improving the lives of millions through the advancement of tinnitus research that will lead to more reliable treatments and, eventually, permanent relief through cures. Tinnitus is the perception of ringing or buzzing in the ears without an external sound source.

In addition to supporting the advancement of more viable treatments and cures for tinnitus through HHF’s groundbreaking research, Dillard is a U.S. Department of Defense consumer reviewer for the Peer Review Medical Research Program (PRMRP), part of the U.S. government’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. 

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Dillard is actively serving as a tinnitus consumer reviewer for the fourth consecutive year after again meeting qualifications through a rigorous application process. As a senior lecturer for systems acquisition management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, he is well connected with members of the military community, many who also live with tinnitus. He is a valuable contributor to discussions about tinnitus with scientists and the general public alike.

As a tinnitus consumer reviewer for the PRMRP, Dillard is responsible for evaluating and scoring tinnitus research proposals based on their potential for scientific and clinical impact. His academic experience as a military researcher has allowed him to assist with the critical thinking and reasoning aspects of each proposal. And from his own military experience, Dillard is keenly aware of how vital this research is for those returning from combat.

Tinnitus is a chronic condition without an existing reliable treatment, although certain products on the market claim otherwise. “There are no nutritional, pharmacological, surgical, deep brain or transdermal electrical stimulation, sound, transcranial magnetic, or other therapies proven efficacious for tinnitus,” Dillard says. “There are many treatments marketed to the naive consumer or patient/sufferer, but none of them are truly effective. Most folks who know me understand my extreme cautions against what I consider ‘snake oil’ treatments. People should spend no money on these products.”

Dillard says one exception using sound therapy is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), currently considered the gold standard in coping with—but not eliminating or curing—disruptive levels of tinnitus. “I have personally benefited from TRT,” he says. TRT involves wearing ear-level devices that work to deliver masking noise to the brain, with or without hearing amplification; the therapy can typically be incorporated into hearing aids. 

Dillard is confident progress will continue to be made by both HHF and the Department of Defense. “We know now that tinnitus is more of a ‘brain problem’ that usually starts from damage to the ear in the form of noise-induced hearing loss,” he says. 

“We need to help the brain heal itself and correct what is actually an auditory ‘hallucination’ of hyperactive neuronal activity. It’s a very resilient, maladaptive feedback loop that works much like learned pain,” Dillard adds “We also hope for various pharmacological approaches being tried that can help tamp down this hyperactivity. I’m hopeful that we will see progress on treating tinnitus in our lifetimes.”

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Col. John Dillard (U.S. Army, Ret.) was appointed Chair of Hearing Health Foundation’s Board of Directors July 1, 2019, after joining the Board in February 2018. He wrote about his experience in the military and how it affected his hearing as the Fall 2017 Hearing Health cover story. HHF marketing and communications intern Imani Rodriguez studied communications and public relations at Rutgers University. 

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United by Hearing Loss in Rochester, NY

By Lauren McGrath

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) proudly attended the 40th annual Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention last week in Rochester, NY. Rochester, fittingly, is the U.S. city with the highest per capita deaf population and a vibrant hub for hearing loss accessibility.

HHF CEO Timothy Higdon and Director of Marketing and Communications Lauren McGrath were present at the city’s Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center to speak with thousands of individuals about the significance of hearing loss research and education.

The conference began with a keynote speech from psychotherapist and author Rebecca Alexander, who lives with Usher syndrome and has partnered with HHF Board member Sophia Boccard to raise awareness of the condition. Alexander cited her cochlear implants as a vital tool hat “helped her reconnect with life.” She also reminded the audience of the importance of requesting assistance. “Why are we so averse to asking people for help?” she inquired, reminding her listeners that no one can read our minds when we face difficulties with hearing, vision, or balance.

CEO Timothy Higdon and Director of Marketing & Communications Lauren McGrath at HHF’s booth in the exhibit hall.

CEO Timothy Higdon and Director of Marketing & Communications Lauren McGrath at HHF’s booth in the exhibit hall.

Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Thomas Friedman, Ph.D., who was funded by HHF’s Emerging Research Grants (ERG) program in 1994 and 1995, introduced the conference’s research symposium on genetics and hearing loss. There are 142 genes known to be associated with deafness, and animal models (mice, zebrafish, and fruit flies) are essential to providing such evidence. 

Zheng-Yi Chen, Ph.D. (Mass. Eye and Ear; 1994 ERG), Patricia White, Ph.D. (University of Rochester School of Medicine; 1999 and 2001 ERG), and Hela Azaiez, Ph.D. (University of Iowa), provided supplementary insights about genetic hearing loss and the possibilities for treatment. Further research updates about hereditary deafness will be available in the Summer 2019 issue of Hearing Health in late July. 

In the exhibit hall, HHF had the opportunity to speak to individuals with hearing loss interested to learn about new advances in research, including exactly how a chicken is connected to potential cures for hearing loss and tinnitus. At neighboring booths, HHF met with representatives from like-minded nonprofit organizations and hearing loss technology providers.

Beyond the exhibit hall, guests participated in workshops focused on self-efficacy, hearing devices, assistive technology, health insurance, and safe travel, among other topics.

The convention buzzed with curiosity, knowledge and compassion. As always, HHF is grateful to HLAA for uniting many of the nation’s most dedicated hearing loss advocates in a valuable three-day experience.

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HHF Co-Sponsors Hearing Health Care Economics Presentation on Capitol Hill

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By Lauren McGrath

Our aging population’s lack of access to hearing loss treatment is a public health crisis. More than half of Americans 60 and older live with hearing loss. When left untreated, hearing loss can increase the risk of cognitive decline, social isolation, falls, and dementia. Unaddressed hearing loss is also connected to higher rates of unemployment, longer hospital stays, and premature mortality.

On May 29, 2019, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) and 11 other Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus (FCHHC) member organizations co-sponsored a briefing luncheon on the economics of hearing health care for Congressional staff and other Federal employees at the Rayburn Office House Building on Capitol Hill.

As both a leader in hearing loss research and a founding member of the FCHHC, the coalition that supports the policy interests of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus (CHHC), HHF is committed to increasing adoption of hearing loss treatment. The CHHC, a U.S. House of Representatives caucus* co-chaired by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), aims to raise awareness of issues that affect Americans with hearing loss, and has previously been influential in the passage and preservation of universal newborn hearing screening legislation. Each year, the FCHHC organizes a briefing for Congressional staffers on an important topic in hearing health.

Event Flyer (Click to Enlarge)

Event Flyer (Click to Enlarge)

The year’s meeting, entitled “Understanding the Cost of Not Treating Hearing Loss in Adults,” featured two expert speakers, Richard K. Gurgel, M.D., clinician and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at University of Utah School of Medicine, and Ian Windmill, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Division of Audiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Gurgel and Windmill spoke about the prevalence of hearing loss and its impact, noting that by 2060, this sensory deficit — the most common among seniors — will impact more than 73 million adults, with the overwhelming majority financially unable to pursue treatment. According to the NIDCD, about 70% of adults ages 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids have used the devices.

Cost is the largest barrier to purchasing hearing aids, the primary treatment for hearing loss, among adults in the U.S. A 2017 Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) and Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) survey found that the cost of hearing aids exceed the next most commonly cited limitation — uncertainty about where to get hearing tested — by 575 percent.

Both Gurgel and Windmill cited the implications of paper entitled “Cost-Benefit Analysis of Hearing Care Services: What Is It Worth to Medicare?”, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society in April 2019. The paper’s authors determined that the average annual spending of Medicare beneficiaries who use hearing care services is $8,196, which the spending of those who do not use hearing care services is $10,709, an annual difference of $2,513 per recipient. This difference amounts to a cost savings of more than $7 billion to Medicare annually.

Windmill also cited a report showing that worker’s compensation costs related to hearing loss for a single year in Kentucky averaged $14,500 per person and amounted to a total of $14.5 million statewide. From this report, we can estimate at least $725 million in worker’s compensation payments related to hearing loss are made each year.

While the Congressional luncheon attendees were enthusiastic, and the economic case for Medicare coverage of hearing aids is compelling, more advocacy work is needed to maximize the number of older adults treating hearing loss. HHF encourages you to take action by inviting your local representatives to join the CHHC and to garner support for relevant existing bills: Medical Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2019 (H.R. 1518), Medicare Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act of 2019 (S. 1423 / H.R. 1393), and the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act (H.R. 576).

You can learn more about the FCHHC and review the presenters’ slides via the American Cochlear Implant Alliance.

*Current members of the CHHC, as of June 2019:

Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
Andre Carson (D-IN)
Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Peter King (R-NY)
Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Richard Neal (D-MA)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
David Roe (R-TN)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Adam Smith (D-WA)

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Operation Regrow Returns June 17

By Gina Russo

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Which came first—the chicken or the egg? It’s an age-old question, but luckily it does have a scientific answer: the egg.

At Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), researchers are working tirelessly to solve a different, unanswered scientific question: How do we cure human hearing loss?

Hearing is a vital sense and precious gift that so many, due to their genetics, noise exposure, ototoxic medication, age, or injury, have lost. Hearing loss impacts 50 million Americans and more than 460 million people worldwide.

At HHF, it’s not about the chicken or the egg. It’s about hearing. That’s what comes first in our lives and in our work. Hearing enables communication with loved ones and enjoyment of life.

Currently, the most common treatments available are hearing aids and cochlear implants. While miraculous in their impact, they do not recreate typical hearing. They do not undo the damage to the inner ear, or the cochlea, or regrow the sensory cells, or hair cells, which make hearing possible. This is why hair cell regeneration therapy is so urgently needed.

Hearing regeneration is already possible in frogs, fish, and yes, chickens. With your help, the members of HHF’s Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) can accelerate their studies to identify permanent cures and better the lives of millions.

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You can be part of the change. Make a donation to the second annual Operation Regrow campaign beginning Tuesday, June 17, at 9:00 AM EDT. Gifts will be accepted online and by mail until June 27.

Your generosity and commitment in this life-changing effort is invaluable to HHF and the scientists in the HRP. Thank you for inspiring us every day to work harder for you and your loved ones living with hearing loss.

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Timothy Higdon Selected to Lead Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) as New CEO

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Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), the largest nonprofit funder of hearing loss research in the U.S., announces the selection of Timothy Higdon as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Mr. Higdon succeeds Interim CEO Margo Amgott and assumes his new position on May 28, 2019.

Mr. Higdon’s appointment to CEO is the result of a thoughtful search process led by a search committee of clinicians, scientists, and other members of the HHF Board of Directors supported by Ms. Amgott. “Timothy’s record of accomplishments and commitment to HHF’s mission position him perfectly to lead this robust organization — which I’m grateful to have come to know over the past six months,” Ms. Amgott said today.

Mr. Higdon comes to HHF with 30 years of organizational leadership and fund development experience. He has led teams ranging in size from two people to 200 at prestigious nonprofit institutions with impressive results.

Most recently, he served as the Senior Director of Strategy and Development at NYU Langone Medical Center. He has held executive positions with Amnesty International, Girl Scouts of the USA, and CSS Fundraising.

Previously, he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 18 years, where he attained the rank of Major. Like so many other veterans, Mr. Higdon lives with noise-induced hearing loss.

“I am honored to join an organization dedicated to the prevention and cure of hearing loss through scientific research. It is thrilling to join the HHF team and be a part of the solution for one of the nation’s most pressing public health concerns.”

Indeed, Mr. Higdon today becomes part of the effort to better the lives of 50 million Americans affected by this hidden disability. HHF funded the discoveries that birds, frogs, and fish can restore their own hearing once deafened, and now supports a consortium of scientists studying this process for replication in humans. HHF also funds projects that investigate hearing loss variants, like tinnitus, Ménière's disease, hyperacusis, and auditory processing disorder.

Mr. Higdon earned his master’s degree in public administration from NYU Wagner School of Public Service, and holds a Bachelor’s in Business Finance from Indiana University.

“I have tremendous confidence in Timothy to shape the future of HHF,” says Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., Chair of the Board. “As government funding for hearing research remains inadequate, I am enthusiastic Timothy and the staff will generate the resources and oversee the processes so urgently needed to support our talented scientific grantees. I look forward to working with the HHF team to advance our vision for a world with better hearing loss treatments and cures.”

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HHF Scientists to Speak at New York Academy of Sciences Symposium

By Lauren McGrath

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) — the first international research consortium dedicated to investigating hair cell regeneration as a cure for hearing loss — was founded on the premise that collaboration is the key to innovation. “Although there is a romantic picture of a scientist slaving away in isolation, toiling toward ‘eureka’ moments, science works best with communication and sharing ideas,” says David Raible, Ph.D., an HRP consortium member based at University of Washington.

Peter Barr Gillespie, Ph.D., and Tatjana Piotrowski, Ph.D., of Hearing Health Foundation’s Hearing Restoration Project

Peter Barr Gillespie, Ph.D., and Tatjana Piotrowski, Ph.D., of Hearing Health Foundation’s Hearing Restoration Project

The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS)’s Hearing Restoration and Hair Cell Regeneration symposium on Tuesday, October 8, will provide members of the HRP and other world-renowned hearing scientists an opportunity to collaborate as Raible describes. During an all-day event in New York City, auditory experts will convene to review recent advancements in the field, identify knowledge gaps, and outline future directions toward hearing loss cures.

The HRP and other scientists worldwide are dedicated to permanent cures for sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when the sensory cells (hair cells) in the inner ear are damaged. “Current treatments for hearing loss including hearing aids and cochlear implants provide substantial benefits for many patients, but also have significant shortcomings and new options are needed,” explains Marie Samanovic-Golden, Ph.D., Program Manager, Life Sciences at NYAS.

The symposium is part of the NYAS’s well-respected Biochemical Pharmacology Discussion Group’s portfolio. To develop a robust agenda for this symposium, which is at the cutting-edge of the latest research and therapeutic developments on hair cell regeneration to restore age-related hearing loss, the Academy assembled a diverse Scientific Organizing Committee of eight experienced experts, including scientific researchers from both Academia and Industry. The Committee collaboratively developed the scientific agenda and learning goals for this conference and identified the best researchers in this field who were subsequently invited to speak at the symposium.

The full-day seminar will feature presentations from two prominent hearing loss researchers funded by HHF through the HRP: Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., and Tatjana Piotrowski, Ph.D., along with six other subject matter experts. Barr-Gillespie, the keynote speaker, will delve into the molecular basis of hair cell mechanotransduction unique to sensory hair cells and essential for hearing. He was also selected to discuss his current roles with Oregon Health & Science University and the HRP.

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Piotrowski was selected to present her latest findings in zebrafish, which — unlike humans — have been shown to have the ability to regenerate lost sensory hair cells. Her basic research on zebrafish is essential to map out how human’s regenerative abilities might be triggered towards a cure for deafness.

NYAS Scientific Organizing Committee member Michael Franti, Ph.D., Director of Regenerative Medicine Research Beyond Borders and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., looks forward to the impact of the symposium. “Hearing loss affects an estimated 360 million people worldwide. The process of repairing hearing is a complex problem and regenerative therapies hold promise in novel treatments for deafness. Identifying the key aspects in hair cell regeneration is necessary to get us closer to a cure for hearing loss,” Franti says.

The Hearing Restoration and Hair Cell Regeneration symposium is open to the public. Constituents of HHF may register for a discounted fee using the promo code “HHF” after selecting “non-member academia.” The event will also be broadcast by webinar, for which details will follow. To learn more about the symposium or register as an attendee, see the event page.

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HHF Endorses California Pediatric Hearing Aids Bill

A young girl speaks at the podium during Assemblyman Bloom’s press conference to introduce his bill to require insurance companies to cover pediatric hearing aids. Credit: Richard Bloom

A young girl speaks at the podium during Assemblyman Bloom’s press conference to introduce his bill to require insurance companies to cover pediatric hearing aids. Credit: Richard Bloom

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) has formally endorsed AB 598, a bill in California calling for the expansion of hearing aid insurance coverage for children.

California resident Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., Chair of HHF’s Board of Directors, recently wrote a letter of support to Assemblywoman Lorena Sanchez, who has stopped earlier versions of the bill. You can read her letter below.

If you live in California and would like to identify and contact your representative about AB 598, you may do so here.


Letter of Support from Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D.

Dear Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez,

Thank you for the leadership you provide to San Diego. I write to you as the Chair of the Board of Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) and Professor Emerita of Surgery/Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. I am requesting your support for AB 598, introduced by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, which will require insurance coverage for children’s hearing aids in our state.

HHF is the nation’s largest nonprofit funder of hearing and balance research. Our scientists’ work has led to development of cochlear implants, innovative ear treatments, and progress toward biological cures for hearing loss. We work tirelessly to better the lives of the 50 million Americans with hearing loss.

Beyond research, HHF has been a longtime advocate for Universal Newborn Hearing Screenings, federally mandated in the 1990s. Identifying hearing loss at birth enables parents to promptly pursue intervention for their child. The first six months of a child’s life are the most critical in forming auditory pathways in the brain to hear.

The majority of individuals with sensorineural (permanent) hearing loss, including children, can benefit from hearing aids as treatment to communicate, learn, and develop healthily. A pair of pediatric hearing aids can burden a family by as much as $6000 per pair, which generally must be replaced every three to five years. This is an out-of-pocket expense of over $40,000 before a child reaches 21.

This immense financial barrier to treatment result in absence of treatment that then inhibits children’s social, speech and language development, and academic performance. For an individual child who does not receive intervention, the estimated cost of special education and loss of productivity is $1M.

Right now, California urgently needs the help of leaders like you to relieve families from the stress of choosing between hearing aids for their children and other health necessities. The strength of the future CA workforce depends on it.

Thank you for your consideration. I truly hope you will act to support California’s children through AB 598.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth M. Keithley, Ph.D.

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What You Made Possible in 2018

By Lauren McGrath

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is thrilled to release our new Annual Report, a compact account of Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017 - September 30). The report’s few dozen pages are symbolically bound between striking images of the inner ears of mice — our small, fellow mammals who continue to show new capabilities in hearing restoration, which will one day be possible for people with hearing loss.

Inside, you’ll find summaries of the most important discoveries that have emerged from our scientists’ labs — in almost all 50 states (see our map of funded institutions on p. 14)! Updates from the Hearing Restoration Project, Emerging Research Grants, and Ménière's Disease Grants programs kick off on p. 28. This work is only possible because of our generous and committed supporters. A few remarkable donors’ stories are highlighted on pp. 6-9, and the full list of those who gave begins on p. 16.

2018 was HHF’s 60th anniversary year, and in celebration of turning “60 years strong,” the report also catalogues some of the notable accomplishments that materialized because of the ambitious vision of our late founder, Collette Ramsey Baker, beginning on p. 10. “My mother made a promise that, if [her hearing loss surgery] worked, she would do something to support research to find the causes of deafness and develop better treatments,” said Ramsey Baker’s daughter, Collette Wynn.

As noted by Board Chair Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D. in her opening remarks (pp. 4-5), HHF is proud to retain top marks for transparency and use of program funds by all major charity watchdogs. You can review financial information on pp. 38-40 and in our Audited Financials.

We extend our gratitude to all who made possible the work enclosed in this report. Should you have questions about the contents, feel free to contact us at development@hhf.org.

You can read HHF’s FY18 Annual Report here.

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A Home for Hearing Research

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By Neyeah Watson

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) commemorated 30 years as an institute of the National Institutes of Health in October 2018. Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is proud to both honor and share in this milestone for the NIDCD, which focuses on biomedical advancements in hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language.

The need for the NIDCD was first championed by Geraldine Dietz Fox, a Philadelphia preschool teacher who, at 27, had developed a sensorineural hearing loss in her left ear from the mumps virus. In her search for resources and treatments, she discovered HHF, at the time known as Deafness Research Foundation, and joined its Board of Directors.

An advocate for hearing loss research, Fox was an influential member of HHF’s board but recognized the need to look beyond its nonprofit resources and toward government funding. Already politically connected by way of her father and husband, who worked on the campaigns of Florida Representative Claude Pepper and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, respectively, Fox headed to Washington, D.C., on behalf of HHF.

She befriended Robert Ruben, M.D., a chairperson for the National Committee for Research in Neurological and Communicative Disorders, a coalition of health agencies and scientists that worked to increase funding for the National Institute for Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke, as it was then known. A four-time Emerging Research Grants (ERG) recipient and otolaryngologist, Ruben had been urging Congress for support of more communication sciences research.

Fox’s new friendship with Ruben and other scientists, combined with her impressive zeal and demeanor as a private citizen with hearing loss, helped her gain an appointment to the advisory committee of the National Institute for Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke in 1986. But Fox was disappointed in the amount of hearing research supported by the institute, and she collaborated with Ruben and Peter Reinecke, a congressional staffer, to move toward crafting a bill for the creation of the NIDCD.

Reinecke worked closely with Pepper, who had a hearing loss of his own, and who teamed up with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, whose brother had hearing loss. The legislation received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Reagan in 1988, forming the NIDCD.

HHF’s lasting relationship with the NIDCD has been vital to new discoveries in hearing science. For example, HHF’s ERG program provides seed funding to talented researchers, most of whom go on to expand their research after successfully competing for larger NIDCD research grants. “HHF plays a seminal role in launching the independent research careers of many  scientists in hearing research,” said former NIDCD director James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

With gratitude to Fox, Ruben, and Reinecke for giving a home to hearing research, HHF is proud to have been associated with the NIDCD’s creation and celebrates the shared commitment to find better cures and treatments for hearing loss and related conditions.

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In Memoriam: Noel Cohen, M.D.

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Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) shares with great sadness the passing of Board of Directors member Noel Cohen, M.D., who dedicated his career to helping people hear. Cohen was a world-renowned cochlear implant surgeon at New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center whose contributions as a clinician, scientist, and educator will forever enrich hearing health.

Cohen served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve before completing his ENT residency at NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital in 1962. Cohen held many leadership roles in the years to follow including professor of otolaryngology at NYU; chair of NYU’s department of otolaryngology–head & neck surgery; acting dean at the NYU School of Medicine; and president of the NYU Hospital Center.

Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., the chair of HHF’s board, spoke highly of Cohen’s passion for building the hearing research community by providing opportunities for its youngest members. “He was a strong advocate for funding young investigators through our Emerging Research Grants [ERG] program to help their establishment as academics and scientists,” Keithley says.

Cohen oversaw the ERG grantmaking process as a member of HHF’s Council of Scientific Trustees (CST) prior to joining the board in 2016. Additionally, Cohen and his late wife, Baukje, were committed financial supporters of HHF through their family foundation.

Anil Lalwani, M.D., also a member of HHF’s board and the head of the CST, was a colleague of Cohen’s at NYU He fondly remembers him as “a surgeon instrumental in providing the priceless gift of hearing to countless youngsters and adults who otherwise would still be living in a silent world.”

Cohen will be deeply missed by HHF and the otolaryngology community. We are grateful to Cohen for his immense service to those who study, treat, and live with hearing loss.

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