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Academic Surgeon-Scientist Research Scholarship (ASSRS) - 2022

To advance human precision diagnostics of hearing loss
Doctor William Shute

Project Description

Hearing loss is an increasingly prevalent cause of disability across the globe, and the number one modifiable risk factor for dementia in mid-life. Cochlear implantation (CI) is a cost-effective intervention which increases quality of life as well as economic and social independence. And yet, as few as 10% of patients who may benefit receive a CI. This disparity is in part due to loss of natural acoustic hearing and fear of poor outcome with CI.

The University of Melbourne, in partnership with The Passe and Williams Foundation have pioneered technologies capable of monitoring the health of the cochlear in real time during cochlear implantation. This Project will utilise these existing technologies to develop electrophysiological diagnostics to track the health of the cochlear in the early post-operative period. This fine grain data will provide new insights into the nature of hearing loss occurring after CI and inform future interventional studies.

We will concurrently develop and implement new techniques of perilymph sampling and analysis to characterise the biological phenotype of the diseased cochlear. We intend to use molecular biomarkers identified in perilymph to identify patients at risk of hearing loss in the post-operative period.

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