Collette Ramsey Baker

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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Celebrate Founder’s Week Starting August 1

By Nadine Dehgan

This August marks the 100th birthday of Hearing Health Foundation (HHF)’s late founder, Collette Ramsey Baker. She formed our foundation 60 years ago in gratitude for surgery that restored her own hearing. Her legacy lives on as we continue to fund innovative hearing and balance science. HHF exists to better the lives of the millions who live with hearing and balance disorders, and we would like to acknowledge those who are most important to you.

June 1966: Collette Ramsey Baker (left) is presented with an award at the Rotary Club of New York.

June 1966: Collette Ramsey Baker (left) is presented with an award at the Rotary Club of New York.

To celebrate the spirit of Mrs. Baker’s birthday, HHF will dedicate a week to your loved ones and those connected to hearing loss. When you make a gift to HHF between August 1 and August 7 in honor of, or in memory of someone special, we will notify them (or their family) of your generosity and add their name to our “Honor Wall” page. As you share your names and stories, we will see the many faces of hearing loss.

Commemorate the most extraordinary people in your life by participating in Founder’s Week and dedicating a gift to hearing research in their honor.

As always, 100% of your gift will be invested in life-changing research and awareness programs, and you can choose where to direct your donation. Thank you for supporting our important work - we couldn’t do it without you!

Make your tribute gift at www.hhf.org/foundersweek beginning August 1, where you will have the opportunity to tell us who you are recognizing and why and to submit their photo.

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Women’s History Through the Lens of HHF

By C. Adrean Mejia

Before Women’s History Month concludes, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) would like to highlight the accomplishments of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), including those who have been instrumental to our own progress toward preventing, treating, and curing hearing loss and related conditions.

Historically, STEM has been majority male, but the growing inclusion of women in the industry is closing the gender gap. In fact, LinkedIn reports the percentage of women entering STEM roles in the last four decades is greater than that of any other professional sector. In 1978, the STEM workforce was only 10% female, while today about a third of this field is comprised of women.

Emerging Research Grants (ERG) recipient Dr. Wafaa Kaf administers a hearing screening. Credit: Missouri State University.

Emerging Research Grants (ERG) recipient Dr. Wafaa Kaf administers a hearing screening. Credit: Missouri State University.

As individuals and as an organization that values inclusiveness, we all at HHF applaud the trend of growing opportunity for women in scientific professions, while remaining equally grateful to the male researchers and Board members who offer their commitment, support, and expertise. Our founder was a woman; 60 years ago, Mrs. Collette Ramsey Baker began a quest to find better treatments and cures for hearing and balance conditions which is championed by all today.

We would like to acknowledge the outstanding women on HHF’s Board of Directors, whose altruism and intelligence have furthered hearing research and HHF’s growth. Our Board Chair, Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., who has been an auditory researcher for more than 30 years, began her association with HHF as a grant reviewer. Dr. Keithley has conducted and published a number of studies related to the mechanisms of inflammation and aging on the inner ear.

From left: HHF Board Chair Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., and Board member Judy Dubno, Ph.D.

From left: HHF Board Chair Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., and Board member Judy Dubno, Ph.D.

Board member Judy Dubno, Ph.D., professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, is considered one of the most important otolaryngology researchers in the nation. Her work has focused on auditory perception, hearing loss, and speech recognition. Dr. Dubno was also a contributor to the report that successfully urged the FDA to create a category of over-the-counter hearing aids to make hearing loss treatment more accessible to American adults.

Also serving on the Board is Ruth Anne Eatock, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, who studies sensory signaling by hair cells and neurons in the inner ear. She was recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience for her investigation of inner ear sensory cells in rodents.

HHF is also thankful for the three female scientists who are part of our Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) consortium working to permanently cure hearing loss: Ronna Hertzano, M.D., Ph.D., Tatjana Piotrowski, Ph.D., and Jennifer S. Stone, Ph.D. Their labs at the University of Maryland, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and the University of Washington, respectively, have uncovered valuable insights related to a biological cure for hearing loss.

Our Emerging Research Grants (ERG) program has empowered many brilliant, female researchers, including those recently published: Wafaa Kaf, Ph.D., researching new techniques to diagnose Ménière's disease; Michelle Hastings, Ph.D., investigating early genetic intervention for Usher syndrome; Elizabeth McCullagh, Ph.D., examining the connection between sound localization difficulties and Fragile X Syndrome; and Samira Anderson, Au.D., Ph.D., working to improve hearing aid fit to enhance usage.

Finally, we are fortunate to have Nadine Dehgan serving as our CEO. Ms. Dehgan plays a crucial role in our growth and programming efficiency, and her leadership experience and passion for how hearing science can better people’s lives has made her a strong fit to drive HHF forward.

HHF deeply values the work of all individuals who bring us closer to a world without hearing loss and tinnitus. For Women’s History Month, we’re honored to call special attention to the women who have been part of these life-changing efforts in the spirit of Mrs. Ramsey Baker, whose determination and selflessness still inspires us today.

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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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