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NIDCD Welcomes Congressional Visits
Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus Sponsor NIDCD Lab Tour
On August 20, the Friends of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus (FCHHC) sponsored a tour of several NIDCD research labs, allowing ten FCHHC professional organization members, seven Congressional staff, and one White House staff member to learn about animal models of human communication disorders. NIDCD Director James F. Battey, M.D., Ph.D., welcomed the group to the Porter Neuroscience Research Center on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus and gave an overview of the NIH's and NIDCD's scientific areas and achievements. NIDCD Scientific Director Andrew Griffith, M.D., Ph.D., discussed the intramural research program and the importance of using animal models such as mice and zebrafish as genetic models for hearing and balance disorders. The group finished the tour by visiting the labs of Katie Kindt, Ph.D., acting chief of NIDCD's Section on Sensory Cell Development and Function, and Wade Chien, M.D., FACS, an NIDCD otolaryngology surgeon-scientist in the Neurotology Program.
Senate HELP Committee Staff Visit NIH
Staff from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee visited NIH and toured two NIDCD research labs on May 27. Dr. Griffith discussed his clinical and basic research on individuals with a common genetic cause of childhood hearing loss. Scientists in his lab are generating and studying animal models of these disorders as a way to test and develop potential treatments. Matthew Kelley, Ph.D., chief of NIDCD's Laboratory of Cochlear Development, showed Senate staff the equipment used to study the development of the nerves in the inner ear that carry auditory information to the brain. Dr. Kelley discussed the development of treatments to maintain neuronal health and to improve the nervous system's interaction with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Representative McKinley Visits with NIDCD Director, Tours NIDCD Lab
Dr. James F. Battey, Jr., M.D.,
Ph.D. (left), and Rep. David
Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), new co-chair of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, along with his wife, Mary McKinley, a critical care nurse, visited the NIDCD on May 21. They met with Dr. Battey and Roger Miller, Ph.D., NIDCD Neural Prosthesis Development program director, to discuss NIDCD-funded research on hearing aids and cochlear implants. They also toured the lab of Dr. Chien to discuss his research on gene therapy in a mouse model of hearing and balance disorders. The tour concluded at the NIH Clinical Center, where Carmen Brewer, Ph.D., chief research audiologist in the NIDCD Audiology Unit, provided an overview of NIDCD's clinical research program on hearing and balance. Rep. McKinley is the only current member of Congress who has a cochlear implant.
Senate Clerks from the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Meet with NIDCD Director
On April 3, Senate clerks from the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies met with Dr. Battey, who gave an overview of the NIDCD's scientific advancements. Amy Donahue, Ph.D., deputy director of NIDCD's Division of Scientific Programs, discussed the ongoing Institute of Medicine (IOM) consensus study on accessible and affordable hearing health care for adults, which is sponsored by the NIDCD and several other organizations. Dr. Griffith discussed with the Senate clerks how NIDCD genetic research was relevant to President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative. Drs. Battey and Griffith described how the identification of gene mutations related to communication disorders in human populations, paired with new genome editing techniques, permit rapid generation of clinically relevant animal models to test new treatments.