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      Young new things

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      By: Tracey Pollard | 06 April 2017

      Back in January, the PhD students we’re funding visited our head office to tell us more about the work they’re doing and to find out more about us.

      Hearing research is woefully neglected and under-funded. In 2014, the UK’s main public funders of medical research spent only £1.11 on hearing research for every person affected. Compare this to the £11.35 spent on vision research – and the whopping £19.79, per person, on cardiovascular research.

      We’re lobbying for more investment – and making sure that every hard-won penny counts. That’s why we put so much store by selecting, nurturing and celebrating the students whose exciting PhD research in the UK you’re helping to fund. They’re some of the best and brightest – and most passionate – in the UK and further afield. Every year, we get them out of the lab and bring them together to get to know each other, to discuss their work, and to grasp how their research can make a huge difference to people. So meet tomorrow’s research leaders, who’ll drive forward our search to find treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus.

      Meet our students

      Dominika Behounek is a student at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton. “I’m trying to gain more insight into a spectrum of disorders called ‘Auditory Neuropathy’. We don’t know much about it, and many people who have it aren’t diagnosed or don’t know what help is available.

      “It’s great that you’ve organised this day to bring scientists together: it’s the first time I’ve met the other students you support. It’s great to know who I can contact to talk to about research, and that we all have a common aim.”

      Rafael Kochaj is at King’s College London. “I’m looking at a novel gene involved in deafness. I got involved in hearing loss research during my Masters degree in experimental neuroscience. I was looking at Parkinson’s disease, brain injury and deafness, and I found deafness the most interesting and varied. My ultimate goal is to find a way to reverse the damage in the auditory system. It would be great if we could just take a pill and hear again.”

       Aimee Bias is a first-year PhD student at the University of Strathclyde. “I study neuroprosthetics – devices for restoring functions of the body. My project focused on hearing restoration. It sounded really interesting, so, when this project popped up, I went for it!

      “As well as Action on Hearing Loss supporting me financially, it’s just really nice to have this day – to know what other scientists are doing and whom I can contact for help."

      Katherine Hardy, at the University of Sheffield, uses zebrafish in her research into sensory hair cells. “The research will give me and my team an insight into how the auditory system works in a living animal: this will benefit our understanding of how the mechanisms work in humans.

      “The day was great for networking with fellow scientists in the field and seeing all the different ways we’re helping hearing loss research.”

      What our PhD funding means

      We award each successful PhD student £75,000 (outside London) and £79,500 (inside London) over a three-year period. This covers their living costs, pays for university fees – and goes towards the costs of the project (and attending scientific meetings). We need to attract high-calibre students into hearing research and make sure they’re trained in world-class laboratories. Only then can they go on to become leaders in their field, able to compete for national and international funding.

      Since 2001, 28 Action on Hearing Loss PhD students have completed their studies. Of these, 19 (68%) are still working in research, with 11 (61%) still active in hearing research, and two working in industry in areas related to their PhD research. This is significantly higher than the sector norm.

      Find out more

      We’ve put together a video from the day, where you can hear from some of our students, and some of our staff, about the research that we fund. Watch it now(external link, opens new window).

      You can find out more about our students, and the research we’re funding, in our biomedical research section.

      If you’re interested in finding out more about our research, sign up to receive our Soundbite e-newsletter. It’s a monthly email, filled with the latest news about hearing and tinnitus research.

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