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NIDCD’s Beyond the Lab Speaker Series Features Talks by Senior Scientists Studying Hearing Loss and Clinical Audiology
Over the past year, the NIDCD held two talks by intramural scientists who presented their work as part of the institute’s speaker series, Beyond the Lab, Understanding Communication Disorders. Designed for NIH nonscientific staff as well as the general public, the series offers the opportunity to learn about the NIDCD’s research advances in communication disorders—conditions that will directly affect about one in six Americans. The goal is to share what researchers are learning inside the lab with other NIDCD and NIH staff and the larger community of patients and their families, advocates, and health professionals.
In December, Lisa Cunningham, Ph.D., chief of NIDCD’s Section on Sensory Cell Biology, led a session about her lab’s work on hearing loss caused by medications that treat serious infectious diseases or cancer. More than half a million Americans experience hearing loss every year from certain drugs. These ototoxic drugs are beneficial in treating infections or cancer, but they also have the potential side effect of causing hearing loss because the drugs damage hair cells in the inner ear. Dr. Cunningham’s lab is developing strategies to preserve hearing without interfering with the therapeutic benefits of these drugs.
This past April, NIDCD researchers Carmen Brewer, Ph.D., chief of the NIDCD Audiology Unit, and Kelly King, Au.D., Ph.D., NIDCD research audiologist, discussed the role of the unit’s contribution to research and the NIH mission, and its involvement in the development of a new therapy for Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC). The NIDCD Audiology Unit provides hearing tests to patients with rare diseases such as NPC who are being treated at the NIH Clinical Center. NPC is a rare cholesterol storage disorder that primarily affects children and is often fatal by early adulthood. NPC damages a variety of organs in the body, including the ear, but primarily affects the brain. Their talk featured a video from some of the Niemann-Pick type C clinical trial volunteers and their families.