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Funding of Temporal Bone Laboratories--Source and Needs Assessment

Dr. Elizabeth M. Keithley
Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery
University of California, San Diego


Current funding for temporal bone labs is derived from private donations and NIH R01 or other grant or contract mechanisms.

I propose that NIDCD, under renewable contracts and based on productivity, provide existing laboratories with "overhead" funding to maintain the collection and processing of human temporal bones.

Needs Assessment:

  1. The greatest need for a temporal bone laboratory is trained personnel. The techniques for handling temporal bones are unique and require a great deal of skill. The anatomy is complex. It is important to maintain the people who are trained in those skills. It is also necessary to train new people who are familiar with molecular biological techniques to use these techniques on temporal bone samples.

  2. The cost of collecting (dissection from cadavers) temporal bones has risen in the past several years. It now costs between $300 and $500 for 2 bones from one cadaver. This is an "overhead" expense that needs to be guaranteed if temporal bone research is to continue.

    Supplies are also needed, but these can usually be procured from other sources. For instance an individual with a specific scientific project that relates to temporal bones will or should have funding for that project and can provide the supplies for the project.

    The idea is that if there is an available source of temporal bones and personnel to process them, an individual or team of researchers can collaborate with a temporal bone laboratory and its personnel to investigate a scientific question. If the temporal bones are not available, individual researchers cannot easily put together the whole project.

  3. A very critical need is the collection of normal temporal bones from individuals with "normal" hearing for their age. Without this normal tissue it is very difficult to establish normal values for protein expression or other measures other than anatomical structures.

  4. In addition to the collection of temporal bones, other tissue that can easily be used for DNA extraction should also be collected from each cadaver.

General Idea

Establish a collection program for the collection of tissues/temporal bones from individuals with congenital hearing loss and other forms of genetic hearing loss. The current collections contain few of these bones.