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Funding of Temporal Bone Laboratories

(Panel 8:40-9:50 a.m.)

  1. In 1984 Dr. Harold F. Schuknecht, in a publication regarding human temporal bone pathology in the United States, described 36 active laboratories.

    1. Definition of an active laboratory, one that routinely collects, prepares, and analyzes pathological temporal bone specimens.

    2. Currently and according to this definition and that of the National Registry, there are only 3 "active" temporal bone laboratories in the United States, and 18 "inactive" laboratories.

  2. We need to acquire good pathological cases with corollary and current (preferably) clinical data. It is essential to collect as many pathological/otological cases as possible in order to have appropriate material for aggregate study.

  3. Archival temporal bones are more valuable than ever, particularly with molecular biological approach methodology and the opportunity for DNA and other possible studies in the future.

  4. There is still a need for many such routine studies as we have barely scratched the surface in understanding pathology and pathogenesis of the myriad of otological diseases. Attention to other disciplines and technology leads to enhanced productivity and understanding of pathogenesis. Again, emphasis of genetic studies can take place using this research discipline.

  5. There are only 10,000 human pathological temporal bones in all of the laboratories in the United States. A little better than 2,000 specimens are housed in the temporal bone laboratory at the University of Minnesota. There should be millions if we are to understand pathology and pathogenesis of these many otological diseases and the various subsets and nuances of those many diseases.

  6. In terms of clinical application or the ability to apply research to clinical patient care, I can think of no other research sponsored by NIDCD which has in the past (or will in the future) done more to help otologists and neurotologists diagnose and treat diseases medically or surgically. Many examples can be provided here.

  7. It costs approximately $2,500 to $3,000 to prepare and study a human temporal bone specimen, not including ultimate study of groups of cases. The basic cost of funding our temporal bone laboratory at the University of Minnesota is approximately $300,000 per year. NIH funds are somewhat available; however they have specific (animal) hypothesis bases purposes. Converting program grants to the P30 grant has decreased this support. No funds are available for basic support for the laboratories. Private and especially personal funds are used to support the basic laboratory function with great difficulty. This is true of the other "active" temporal bone laboratories.

  8. For human otopathology to survive, and we hope later to thrive, we first need to recognize the potential immense loss as we are on the threshold of extinction of otopathology. NIDCD is the only institute which can save this critical research endeavor.

  9. It is reasonable for NIH to support the basic functions of these "active" core laboratories with a primary purpose of survival and to use these core laboratories to encourage activation of the other laboratories (and we hope more to follow) in the United States. These core laboratories can assist the inactive laboratories by processing human temporal bone specimens acquired by them, preparing and studying them in a collaborative fashion, providing training for technicians and otopathologists, and including American-based otopathologists in the future.