Research

  • Center for Auditory Regeneration and Deafness

    About the Center

    The Iowa Center for Deafness and Auditory Regeneration is a new initiative designed to create and develop new therapeutic regimens to treat persons with hearing loss. The Center brings together investigators in the Departments of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Biology, Physiology and Biophysics, Neurosurgery, Radiology, and the College of Engineering.

    Regeneration of a damaged auditory system was only a dream a few years ago. However, accelerated research in the areas of molecular genetics, developmental neurobiology, electrophysiology, digital signal processing, molecular signal transduction, and cochlear implant research provide a foundation for the concept that regeneration of components of the auditory system are within reach.  It is projected that an interface between electrical stimulation of the auditory system, molecular biology and molecular genetics may emerge as a first step in accomplishing regeneration of the neural elements of the auditory system.

    Several key laboratories and researchers are in place at the University of Iowa and are well positioned to contribute to the development of new strategies to manage hearing loss. The Iowa Center for Deafness and Auditory Regeneration will provide an organizational structure to coordinate this multidisciplinary research team, lead the recruitment of needed molecular developmental and signal transduction neuroscientists, and develop focused integrated research questions from the periphery to the central nervous system.

    The need for this type of center is acute. It is estimated that there are more than 28 million individuals in the United States with severe hearing impairment, making hearing loss the third most prevalent chronic condition in older Americans after hypertension and arthritis (1). The prevalence of hearing impairment increases with age, affecting 25-40% of persons over 75 years of age and more than 80% of persons over 85.

    It is anticipated that The Iowa Center for Deafness and Auditory Regeneration will provide a research environment that will stimulate development of novel therapeutic management strategies for hearing impairment. The Center will be composed of several existing units including: Auditory Molecular Genetics Laboratories; Auditory Digital Signal Processing Laboratories; Auditory Signal Transduction Laboratories; Auditory Electrophysiology Laboratories; Human Auditory Neurophysiology Laboratory; Micro CT Laboratory, and Cochlear Implant Development Laboratories. Recruitment of one or two additional neuroscientists in the area of molecular neurophysiology and molecular developmental neuroscience is in progress.

    1. Cochlear Implant Development Laboratories
    2. Auditory Molecular Genetics Laboratories
    3. Auditory Electrophysiology Laboratories
    4. Auditory Neuroscience Laboratories
    5. Human Auditory Neurophysiology Laboratory
    6. Recruitment
    7. Laboratory Space

    Summary

    This multidisciplinary team of externally funded experienced investigators provides a nucleus for the development of a unique new translational research initiative. It is unlikely that such a strong group of investigators with similar research interests exists in other institutions. It is anticipated that significant advancements in the treatment of neurosensory hearing loss can be accomplished by the creation of the Iowa Center for Deafness and Auditory Regeneration. 

    Contact Information

    Bruce Gantz, M.D.
    Co-Directory
    bruce-gantz@uiowa.edu 

    Richard Smith, M.D.
    Co-Director
    richard-smith@uiowa.edu 

    References

    1. Yueh, B; Shapiro, N; MacLean, C H; Shekelle, PG. Screening and Management of Adult Hearing Loss in Primary Care. JAMA, 289:1976-1985, 2003