Deafness Research Foundation Announces New Name

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                   

Contact: Libby Schnee

Deafness Research Foundation Announces New Name and Reaffirms its Unwavering Dedication to the Prevention, Research, and Cure for Hearing Loss

Hearing Restoration Project is Major Commitment to a Cure

New York, NY (September 14, 2011) -- Today the Deafness Research Foundation Board of Directors announced a new name for the highly-regarded organization.  Effective immediately, the Deafness Research Foundation will be called Hearing Health Foundation.  To signal the Foundation’s unwavering dedication to hearing research, a groundbreaking research consortium, the Hearing Restoration Project, was also announced.

Clifford P. Tallman, Jr., Hearing Health Foundation Board Chair, said, “This is an exciting day in the history of our 53-year-old organization.  We are revitalizing our image and changing our name to Hearing Health Foundation to more accurately communicate our mission and our dedication to the prevention of, research into, and cure for hearing loss.” 

Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss and that number is expected to double by 2030.  Since its inception in 1958, Hearing Health Foundation has been the leading source of private funding in the United States for research into the science of hearing and balance.  “The name Deafness Research Foundation served us well,” explained Tallman.  “Our research, however, showed that ‘deafness’ is an outdated term and now has a different connotation from how we were initially using it.  Over the last half-century, we have done important work.  Our new name reflects our determination to change the social stigma tied to hearing loss and to fund new and promising research that may bring a cure for hearing loss to the public.”

The Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) is an alliance of scientists working collaboratively and interactively to find a cure for hearing loss.  The goal of the HRP is to raise $50 million to complete research begun more than 20 years ago, when researchers discovered that birds have the ability to regrow damaged hair cells in their inner ears. Hair cells convert sound information into electrical signals that are sent to the brain.  Once human hair cells die, hearing loss is permanent.  The challenge is to find a way to trigger hair cell regrowth within humans, which could mean a cure for millions suffering from various forms of hearing loss.

“Many labs are on the cusp of a major breakthrough in this field of research, which didn’t exist 25 years ago,” said Dr. Edwin Rubel of the University of Washington, one of the original researchers who discovered that hair cells regenerate in chickens.  “We need some luck and what the HRP is providing: sustained funding and the collaboration between a number of good researchers.”

The Hearing Restoration Project members include the top 10 scientists in the country, affiliated with Harvard University, University of Washington, Stanford University, Washington University, Baylor University, and the University of Michigan, to name a few.

Dr. George Gates, the Scientific Director of the Hearing Restoration Project, said, “If we can get hair cells to grow back in humans, we can restore hearing without surgery and without batteries and we think we can get to clinical trials for this research within the next decade.”

About the Hearing Restoration Project and the Hearing Restoration Summit

The Hearing Restoration Project will bring together an innovative model – collaboration between the 10 major hearing loss research centers in the United States, with full sharing of technologies, data, and credit.  The HRP asks from its members a commitment to the overall goal and organizational approach, full sharing and allegiance to the Project, and active participation in the governance of the HRP.  Significant funds have already been raised, but the HRP is determined to focus both attention and millions of dollars toward finding a cure to hearing loss. 

On October 3, 2011, Hearing Health Foundation will hold a free summit called The Promise of Cell Regeneration, as well as a major fundraiser, at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City.  This event is open to the public.  For more information, to register to attend, or to make a donation, contact www.hearinghealthfoundation.org. 

About Hearing Health Foundation

Hearing Health Foundation, formerly Deafness Research Foundation, is the United States’ leading source of private funding for research in hearing and balance science.  Research made possible by Hearing Health Foundation grants has resulted in dramatic innovations that have increased options for those living with hearing and balance disorders, and protected those at risk.  Since our inception in 1958, we have awarded more than $26.5 million through more than 2,000 scientific research grants to researchers who are dedicated to exploring new avenues of hearing and balance science.  Hearing Health Foundation also publishes the award-winning Hearing Health Magazine.

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2011 Grant Recipients Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                  
July 26, 2011                                                                                                                      

Trisha Donaldson

DRF Increases grantmaking:  2011 Grant Recipients Announced

Deafness Research Foundation (DRF)’s National Hearing Health Grants Center is excited to announce that it has awarded over $600,000 to 25 outstanding research scientists in the field of hearing and balance science.  For two years in a row, we are excited to announce an increase in our grantmaking.

Each year, DRF awards research grants to young investigators who are exploring new avenues of hearing and balance science. These funds will support research in the following areas:

  • Fundamental Auditory Research – development, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, anatomy, and regeneration biology;

  • Hearing and Balance Restoration – infants, children and adults

    • cochlear implant, auditory hair cell regeneration, and auditory nerve regeneration;

  • Hearing Loss – aging, noise-induced, otosclerosis, ototoxicity, and otitis media;

  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder;

  • Usher Syndrome; and

  • Vestibular and Balance Disorders (dizziness and vertigo, Meniere's disease).

For this year's grants selection, DRF's Council of Scientific Trustees reviewed applications from scientists at renowned research institutions around the U.S.  The selected research projects received detailed peer review for scientific merit and program relevance.  A complete list of the 2011 grant recipients is provided below, including recipients whose research is funded in whole or part by the DRF Centurion Clinical Research Award, the C.H.E.A.R. Endowment Award, Collette Ramsey Baker Research Award, and The Todd M. Bader Research Grant of The Barbara Epstein Foundation, Inc.

Keith E. Bryan, Ph.D., University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine
Investigating the role of cabp1 in kcnq4 channel modulation

Brenton G. Cooper, Ph.D., Texas Christian University
Lateralization of acoustic perception in Bengalese finches

Regie Lyn P. Santos-Cortez, M.D., Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine
Identification of genes that predispose to chronic otitis media in the at population of Bolabog, Boracay island, Philippines

Elizabeth Dinces, M.D., M.S., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Effects of aging on selective attention in complex multi-source sound environments

Carolyn P. Ojano-Dirain, Ph.D., The University of Florida College of Medicine
Prevention of aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss with the mitochondria-targeted

Sung-Ho Huh, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine
Role of fgfs in cochlear sensory epithelium

Albena Kantardzhieva, Ph.D., Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Defining the interaction partners of major proteins in the hair cell's synaptic ribbon

Shuh-Yow Lin, Ph.D., The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine
Molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission in hair cells

Debashree Mukherjea, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Targeting inflammation in prevention and treatment of noise induced hearing loss

Erin K. Purcell, Ph.D., The University of Michigan, Kresge Hearing Research Institute
A stem cell-seeded nanofibrous scaffold for auditory nerve regeneration

Zlatka P. Stojanova, Ph.D., House Research Institute
Epigenetic regulation of the atoh1 gene

Jie Tang, Ph.D., Creighton University School of Medicine
Creation of a pendrin with both motor and transport functions

Ellen S. Wilch, Ph.D., Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Identification of cis-regulatory gjb2 and gjb6 elements by chromosome conformation capture and investigation of potential cis-regulatory variants in persons with hearing loss and monoallelic mutation of gjb2

Hsiao-Huei Wu, Ph.D., The University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine
Regulation of inner ear development by hgf, the nonsyndromic hearing loss gene, dfnb39

Edward L. Bartlett, Ph.D., Purdue University
Cellular bases of temporal auditory processing

Soyoun Cho, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University
Dynamics of exo- and endocytosis at hair cells

Frances Hannan, Ph.D., New York Medical College
The role of diaphanous in the auditory cytoskeleton

Michelle Hastings, Ph.D., Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
Therapeutic correction of ush1c splicing in a mouse model of usher syndrome

Zhengqing Hu, M.D., Ph.D., Wayne State University School of Medicine
Innervation of in vitro-produced hair cell by neural progenitor-derived glutamatergic neurons

Judith S. Kempfle, M.D., Massachusetts Eye and Ear lnfirmary
Influence of bone morphogenetic protein 4 and retinoic acid on differentiation of inner ear stem cells

Neeliyath A. Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., Wayne State University School of Medicine
Molecular interactions of the hair-cell afferent synapse


James E. Saunders, M.D., Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
Genetic hearing loss in remote Nicaraguan families

This research award is funded by the Centurions of the Deafness Research Foundation. DRF has partnered with CORE Grants Program of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) to offer a one-year DRF Centurion Clinical Research Award (CCRA) for clinical research in hearing and balance science.


Patricia White, Ph.D., University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
1st year grant recipient
The role of foxo3 in hearing protection

The C.H.E.A.R. endowment was created to support an annual sensory-neural Deafness Research Grant. C.H.E.A.R. (Children Hearing Education and Research) was absorbed into DRF in 1991, and we are very proud to continue their legacy of funding research in sensory-neural deafness.


Kirill Vadimovich Nourski, Ph.D., M.D., University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
1st year grant recipient
Temporal processing in human auditory cortex
This research award is made in memory of Deafness Research Foundation’s founder, Collette Ramsey Baker.


Marcello Peppi, Ph.D., Massachusetts Eye and Ear lnfirmary
2nd year grant recipient
Molecular mechanisms of dexamethasone-mediated protection from acoustic trauma
This research award is funded by The Todd M. Bader Research Grant of The Barbara Epstein Foundation, Inc.


Deafness Research Foundation is the leading national source of private funding for research in hearing and balance science.  Research made possible by DRF grants has resulted in dramatic innovations that have increased options for those living with hearing and balance disorders, as well as protected those at risk.  Since our inception in 1958, we have awarded over $26.6 million through more than 2,000 scientific research grants to researchers who are dedicated to exploring new avenues of hearing and balance science.  With the potential of hearing restoration through regeneration biology, the scope of DRF-funded research has expanded enormously.  Since 1972, DRF has funded close to 40 research grants that have been instrumental in the development, evaluation and improvement of cochlear implants.  Approximately, 188,000 implant procedures have been completed worldwide with beneficial results, particularly when the procedure is undertaken in infants.  DRF also publishes the award-winning Hearing HealthMagazine.

Voice (212) 257-6143 • Toll-Free (866) 454-3924 • TTY (888) 435-6104 • Fax (212) 257-6139

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