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Gayla L. Poling joins NIDCD Audiology Unit as Chief Research Audiologist

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) is pleased to welcome Gayla L. Poling, Ph.D., as Chief Research Audiologist in the NIDCD Audiology Unit. Dr. Poling will join NIDCD in late October from the Mayo Clinic, where she served as Director of Diagnostic Audiology Research.

Portrait of Gayla Poling.

The NIDCD Audiology Unit functions as both a research and clinical laboratory. It is a world-class center for conducting research on the auditory and vestibular systems, delivering clinical services, and providing a comprehensive trainee program. As a key component of the NIH Clinical Center, the Audiology Unit provides hearing and balance evaluations to clinical study participants, including adult and pediatric patients with rare diseases, as well as patients taking lifesaving but potentially ototoxic (harmful to hearing) drugs or participating in investigational treatments. The Audiology Unit also studies healthy volunteers to better understand the normal function and variability of the auditory and vestibular systems and to identify new and improved methods of evaluating these systems.

“Dr. Poling's extensive knowledge in clinical audiology and experience with hearing screening and big data are instrumental for the Audiology Unit and Neurotology Branch as we establish collaborative programs across NIH institutes to leverage the wealth of genetic data from large-scale screening studies,” said Ronna Hertzano, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Neurotology Branch at NIDCD.

Throughout her career, Dr. Poling has studied and developed diagnostic approaches for the early detection and prevention of hearing loss caused by aging, noise, and ototoxic medications. In her role at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Poling directed clinical research across the life span, ensuring that it aligned with departmental and institutional strategic vision. She also served on several institutional committees, including the Otolaryngology Research Executive Committee, the Quality Committee, and the Audiology Specialty Council. As Chair of the One Mayo Audiology Project and Audiology Subject Matter Expert for the Plummer Project—a massive effort to unite all Mayo Clinic locations on one integrated electronic health record and revenue cycle management system—she championed continuous advancement in electronic health records and audiological database development.

Dr. Poling has mentored dozens of undergraduate, graduate, medical, doctoral, and postdoctoral students over the past 15 years. Her mentees have received accolades such as the NIDCD Mentored Poster Award at the American Auditory Society and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Mentored Student Award.

In addition to her leadership, research, and clinical contributions, Dr. Poling is active in professional societies, including ASHA, the National Hearing Conservation Association, the American Academy of Audiology, and the International Ototoxicity Management Group.

Dr. Poling received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in speech and hearing science from The Ohio State University. She was a clinical fellow at the Henry Ford Hospital and conducted postdoctoral research at the Medical University of South Carolina and at Northwestern University.

NIDCD expresses its gratitude to Christopher Zalewski, Ph.D., and Julie Christensen, M.S., for serving as Acting Co-Chief Research Audiologists since the retirement of Carmen Brewer, Ph.D., in October 2022 after 20 years of federal service.

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