60th anniversary

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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Mapping Better Hearing

By Vicky Chan

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have empowered groundbreaking hearing loss research in the last 60 years. A new interactive map displays every institution in the U.S. where HHF has been fortunate to fund groundbreaking research, yielding outstanding advancements in hearing and balance science. The map also indicates the rates of hearing loss in each state, signaling that additional work is urgently needed.

The colors—light yellow, yellow, green, teal, blue, and purple—represent the rates of hearing loss in each state. The calculations are based off 2015 U.S. Census Data, using estimates from the well-known prevalence of hearing loss among specific demographics. At the lowest end of the range in light yellow, hearing loss affects 13.71% of Colorado’s population. The highest rate was found in Missouri, purple, where the prevalence measured 20.15%. The mean for all states was 18.16%. The numbers signal the significance of hearing loss research.

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Nearly all of the institutions on the map represent recipients of the Emerging Research Grants (ERG) who have carried out investigations related to tinnitus, hyperacusis, Ménière's disease, Usher syndrome, hearing loss in children, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and strial atrophy.

A few institutions are home to the work of the Hearing Restoration Project’s (HRP) domestic consortium members, who focus on investigating hair cell regeneration as a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus. They conduct research at Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Oregon Health & Science University, Stanford University, Stowers Institute, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, University of Washington, and Washington University.

By mid-year, the institutions corresponding to HHF’s newly formed Ménière's Disease Grants (MDG) program will be added to the map.

HHF envisions a world in which no one lives with hearing loss and tinnitus—until this is realized, we’ll do everything we can to put more innovative hearing loss research on the map.

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HHF Celebrates 60 Years

By Yishane Lee

The legacies of Collette Ramsey Baker and Wesley H. Bradley, M.D., underscore the shared mission of Hearing Health Foundation and the medical community to support and fund groundbreaking scientific research.

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Sixty years ago, Collette Ramsey Baker founded Deafness Research Foundation, now known
as Hearing Health Foundation (HHF). After living with a hearing loss for decades, she found relief through fenestration surgery, an early otosclerosis treatment. In gratitude, Ramsey Baker wanted to give back. Her daughter, Collette Wynn, says, “My mother made a promise that, if the operation worked, she would do something to support research to find the causes of deafness and develop better treatments.” HHF was launched in 1958.

Ramsey Baker introduced her surgeon, Julius Lempert, M.D., who pioneered the fenestration surgery, and Walter Petryshyn, M.D., her otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist), to finance and industry leaders, and from this talented group came HHF’s first Board of Directors, with Ramsey Baker becoming HHF’s president.

In 2006, this magazine ran a profile of Ramsey Baker featuring the recollections of HHF’s early years from Wesley H. Bradley, M.D., a skilled surgeon who went on to lead what became the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Bradley passed away in 2012, two years after Ramsey Baker.

In the article, Bradley recounts how HHF’s mission so impressed Lempert that he spoke about the organization to leading otologists. “These individuals quickly saw the advantage of supporting a group that was firmly established to promote otological research,” Bradley said.

One early effort was the creation, in 1960, of a program to encourage people to donate their temporal bones to hearing science upon death. The National Temporal Bone Registry, now
overseen by the NIDCD, has led to countless research breakthroughs.

In 1963, physician support of HHF was formalized with the creation of The Centurions, a group of doctors who covered HHF’s administrative costs so all funds raised went directly to hearing research. Physicians also joined the board and launched the Emerging Research Grants program, which remains HHF’s flagship along with the Hearing Restoration Project research consortium.

Bradley’s three-decade involvement with HHF, including as a founding Centurions member and medical director, was recognized with the Wesley H. Bradley, M.D., Memorial Grant, awarded to a promising ERG scientist in 2014. “I had the idea of honoring Wes’s work,” says Bradley’s wife, Barbara. “The many years he spent working at Deafness Research Foundation, it really was a labor of love. He believed very strongly in its mission.”

Says Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., the chair of HHF’s Board of Directors, “Planned giving is a major component of HHF’s success today and into the future. It is with these achievements and many more in mind that we celebrate 60 years and look toward more groundbreaking discoveries in hearing and balance science.”

Yishane Lee is the Editor of Hearing Health magazine, a quarterly publication of HHF. This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Hearing Health magazine. Read more about Bradley in “A Family Gift” in the Fall 2014 issue and “A Tribute to Wesley H. Bradley, M.D.” in the Winter 2013 issue.

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2018: Hear's to You

By Nadine Dehgan

From every one of us at Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)—scientists, staff, and volunteers—thank you for your support in 2017 and best wishes for 2018.

Because of folks like you, 2017 was an incredible year in which HHF:

  • Increased funding for Hearing Restoration Project & Emerging Research Grants by 35%

  • Launched Ménière's Disease Grants program to better understand & treat this condition

  • Began to fund critical Ototoxic Drug Research so cancer survivors won't have to live with hearing loss as a result of their life-saving treatments

  • Advocated for universal newborn hearing screenings, resulting in the passage of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act

  • Endorsed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, which will provide a more affordable and accessible treatment option for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss

  • Created Faces of Hearing Loss to show that hearing and balance disorders affect all of us

  • Received Top Ratings from all Charity Watchdogs including Consumer Reports and BBB

With hearts full of gratitude, we look forward to the work to be done in 2018—HHF’s 60th anniversary year.

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With your help, HHF will continue to fund groundbreaking discoveries for the tens of millions of Americans with hearing loss and tinnitus—among whom is Ethan, 6, born with bilateral (in both ears) hearing loss and fortunate to receive early intervention.

Ethan is a first-grader who loves his sisters, soccer, reading, math, and martial arts. Until a cure for hearing loss is realized, he will be dependent on hearing aids or other treatments.

New scientific findings in 2018—empowered by you—can change the future of hearing loss for Ethan and so many others. I look forward to updating you on progress made.

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You’re Invited: Comprehensive Hearing Health Experience in February 2018

By Lauren McGrath

In honor of our 60th anniversary, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s Board Chair, Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., is hosting Hearing360—an educational and social forum at the San Diego Central Library—in early 2018. Hearing360 seeks to engage HHF’s San Diego area constituents with the latest updates in hearing research and everyday guidance for hearing health.

Featured event speakers include scientists Ronna Hertzano, M.D. and Andy Groves, Ph.D. from HHF’s Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), the world’s first international consortium dedicated to identifying a permanent biological cure for hearing loss. Their individual presentations on the regeneration of hair cells in the inner ear will be followed by a brief Q&A session.

Ronna Hertzano, M.D.

Ronna Hertzano, M.D.

Andy Groves, Ph.D.

Andy Groves, Ph.D.

Hearing360 will also honor the generosity of longtime HHF supporters Frank and Chris De Francesco, who shared their experiences raising a child with profound hearing loss in “Why We Believe in Hearing Health Foundation,” which appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Hearing Health magazine.

Scheduled for Sunday, February 11 from 3:00 - 5:00 PM in the San Diego Central Library’s Shiley Special Event Suite, Hearing360 will be fully accessible with a t-coil loop system and open captioning. Light refreshments and wine will be available.

Limited space is available and an RSVP is required for all guests. We look forward to meeting you in San Diego. Please contact HHF at events@hhf.org with any questions regarding Hearing360.

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