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.
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.
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.