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XVI. Report of the Director, Division of Human Communication

Dr. Naunton

Dr. Ralph F. Naunton, presented his Report of the Director, Division of Human Communication (DHC). Dr. Naunton reviewed a number of current and future DHC program activities including workshops, meetings program initiatives and future events by Program Area. These activities are listed below:

Hearing, Balance/Vestibular Programs


  • Dr. Naunton called membersí attention to booklets which he was making available for the NIDCD/NASA/VA-sponsored Hearing Aid Improvement Conference, which is being held to facilitate partnerships for technology transfer. The booklet contains the program and descriptions of the laboratories from which some of the technologies were developed. The Division is planning a program announcement inviting applications for support for partnerships between federal laboratories, hearing aid manufacturers, and academia to develop these partnerships in relation to hearing aid improvement. The costs of any applications that are funded will be shared between the Institute and NASA. The individuals responsible for the planning of the conference are Dr. Amy Donahue, Chief of the Division of Hearing, Balance and Vestibular Sciences and Dr. Marin Allen, Chief, Policy, Planning and Health Reports Branch.


  • The NIDCD/US Air Force Clinical Study of the Effects of HIV Infection on Hearing, Balance, Smell and Taste is moving ahead. The protocol writing committee has met and the protocol is nearing finalization. Dr. Kenneth Gruber is project officer, and Dr. Lynn Luethke is the protocol development coordinator for this study.


  • In the NIDCD/VA hearing aid clinical trial, 308 subjects were enrolled as of March 1, 1997. A preliminary evaluation of the data emerging from this study may be available in June or July. Dr. Luethke is coordinating this activity.


  • Brochures and application forms for the second biennial Hearing Aid Research and Development Conference were made available to the Council. Dr. Donahue and Dr. Marin Allen have been responsible for the coordination of that conference.

An RFP entitled "Development of a High Density Percutaneous Connector System" was issued several months ago. This was a recompetition of a previously awarded contract relevant to cochlear implants. It is expected that an award will be made soon.

Voice, Speech and Language


  • A workshop entitled "Research Opportunities in Molecular Biology and Genetics in Voice, Speech and Language" was held in early May. This was planned by Dr. Beth Ansel and Dr. Cooper. A number of promising suggestions emerged from the Workshop and are being collated by the staff. A formal report of the proceedings of the workshop will be presented at a future meeting of the Council.
  • An NIDCD/Howard University co-sponsored conference on Communication Disorders and Stroke in African-American and Other Cultural Groups will be held May 19 and 20 in NIHís Natcher Building. Descriptive brochures and application forms were made available to Council. Dr. Cooper has been responsible for the liaison with Howard University.

Smell and Taste

The staff are planning two workshops at the Joint International Symposium of Olfaction and Taste and the Association of Chemosensory Sciences (AChemS), which will be held in San Diego in July. The first of those will be chaired by Dr. Jack Pearl and will include presentations from representatives of other agencies and a number of chemosensory scientists; the title of the workshop will be ìFunding Opportunities in Chemosensory Research.î Dr. Rochelle Small will coordinate a workshop entitled "Review of Chemosensory Research Applications" with the assistance of representatives from the Division of Research Grants (DRG), members of study sections and other program staff.

A trans-NIH workshop, "Smell and Taste in the Elderly--Behavioral and Nutritional Consequences." will take place at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Dr. Small has been organizing and coordinating NIDCDís contribution to this conference.

Clinical Trials Branch


  • Two Clinical Trials Cooperative Groups have now been awarded. The establishment of their Data and Safety Monitoring Committees is nearing completion. Dr. Julia Gulya, Chief of the Clinical Trials Branch is responsible for this activity.

General Activities


  • A notice entitled "NIDCD Research Areas of Special Emphasis" has been published. This notice is discussed in further detail in the next section of these minutes, "Program Initiatives."


  • An RFA has been published in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), entitled "Novel Technologies for the Evaluation of Molecular Alterations in Tissue." This was published in January of this year; Dr. Gruber is responsible for this liaison with NCI.


  • Another RFA entitled "The Rat Genome Catalog and Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) Map" was also issued in January under the guidance of Dr. Gruber. This announcement involves eleven of the NIH Institutes.


  • Responses to several initiatives will be brought to Council for a second level of review at a special Council teleconference meeting in September. The first two of these initiatives reflect the Instituteís success in securing funds from the Office of Research and Minority Health (ORMH) to support the recruitment and retention of minority individuals in biomedical research. Applications for these two initiatives are due later this month. The first RFA is entitled "Mentored Research Scientist Development Award for Minority School Faculty;" Dr. Sklare was responsible for that activity. The second RFA, entitled "Minority Dissertation Research Grants in Human Communication," is being coordinated by Dr. Cooper.


  • A program announcement (PA) entitled "Exploratory Developmental Grants for High Risk-High Impact Research" was recently issued and also will be considered at the special teleconference meeting in September.


  • The NIDCD will be co-sponsoring two PAs which are now in preparation with the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). The first of these is entitled "Mucosal Immunity in Pathogenesis/Prevention of Human Disease." The second one, also in collaboration with NIAID, is "Respiratory Pathogens: Research Opportunities and Needs." The publication of these two PAs is expected in the next few weeks. Dr. Gruber is NIDCDís coordinator on both of these announcements.
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