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      Student wins leading charitys science accolade

      30 May 2018

      Alia Habib, 20 years old from Birmingham, a third year Audiology student at Aston University has beaten competition from across the UK to win charity Action on Hearing Loss’s annual Summer Studentship Project Award while conducting research at the University of Nottingham.

      Last year Action on Hearing Loss provided Alia with funding to complete an eight week project, which the charity hopes will inspire the most talented scientist to go on and consider a career in hearing research. Alia now won the charity’s prize for writing the best report about her project and experience at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre under the guidance of Dr Eithne Heffernan and Dr Mel Ferguson exploring social isolation in adults with hearing loss.


      During her studentship, Alia evaluated a short questionnaire to see if it was a good measure of social isolation in people with hearing loss. She found that this new questionnaire was of high-quality and so could be used by audiologists and in clinical trials to find out if interventions such as hearing aids actually reduce social isolation in people with hearing loss.


      Alia was awarded the prize by the charity’s Executive Director of Research, Dr Ralph Holme, in a ceremony in Nottingham. Alia said: ‘I’m delighted to receive such a great award from Action on Hearing Loss for my winning research project, which I’ll use as a springboard to continue my studies into hearing research and audiology. This summer studentship has been an invaluable experience, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. It was an incredible opportunity and has motivated me to enter hearing research in the future.’


      Dr Ralph Holme said: ‘Alia’s project is a great example of how our Summer Studentships can provide valuable research experience to promising students. One of our key aims is to increase the number of scientists working in the field of hearing loss research, and providing opportunities to inspire talented students like Alia is a good way of doing this.’


      Dr Melanie Ferguson, Associate Professor in Hearing Sciences at NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre said: ‘Alia was our first Action on Hearing Loss summer student within the Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss team and was a star student! The project she carried out to evaluate a Social Isolation Measure in adults with hearing loss will make a significant contribution to the outcome measures literature when it gets published later this year. As an audiologist myself, I am always keen to support early-career audiologists in developing their research skills. I think the translational nature of our research at the NIHR Nottingham BRC, with its strong focus on patient benefit, helped provide Alia with insights into how to conduct high-quality research as well as develop her own research skills and experience. Alia was a pleasure to have on the team’.


      The charity invited universities from across the UK to apply to the scheme, awarding nine Summer Studentship grants so they could give undergraduate scientists the chance to get involved in research into deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss through placements in world-leading laboratories.


      Action on Hearing Loss is the largest donor funded hearing loss charity in the world with the charity last year investing £1.7million in funding for more than 100 research projects around the globe to find treatments and technology to support those with deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus to live the life they choose.


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      Contact for general media enquiries:

      Gorki Duhra, Senior PR Officer, telephone: 020 7296 8057, out of hours: 07944 038 635 or email: Follow Action on Hearing Loss on Twitter @hearinglosspr


      Notes to Editors

      • High resolution jpeg image of Alia Habib presented with the award by Dr Ralph Holme, Action on Hearing Loss Executive Director of Research at NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre.

      • Action on Hearing Loss is a national charity that helps people to confront deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose.  Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way. Action on Hearing Loss gives people support and care, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality.

      • Hearing loss research is woefully underfunded, compared to the scale of the issue, which affects one in six people in the UK. In 2014, hearing loss research received less than a tenth of the funding per person affected (£1.11 per person) compared to sight loss (£11.35 per person affected) and a fraction of funding for research into other conditions such as diabetes, and heart disease.
      • Hearing loss, if undiagnosed or mismanaged, can lead to isolation, depression and reduce employment opportunities. Investment in research has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for millions of people across the UK, but save the economy millions of pounds.
      • Tinnitus is a medical term to describe noise(s) that people can hear in one ear, both ears or in the head – such as ringing, buzzing or whistling. The sounds heard can vary from person to person, but the common link is that they do not have an external source.