College of Engineering @ USF College of Behavioral & Community Sciences @ USF
Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research
  • Focus on innovative research, development, education
  • Globally recognized membership and activities
  • $12,000,000+ in externally funded research
  • Integrated, multi-disciplinary emphasis
  • Broad range of research programs in productive learning environment

Archived News & Events

New NIH R01 Grant Awarded

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of South Florida, headed by Drs. Robert Frisina and Joseph Walton have just been awarded a $1.3 million 5-year grant to USF to develop and test novel micropumps for inner ear drug delivery, to treat hearing loss, deafness and balance disorders. This grant is a collaboration with Dr. David Borkholder, a microelectronics engineer on the faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY).

 

As personalized medicine and smart drug delivery systems increase in demand, the need for smaller and more programmable drug delivery systems will be increasingly called upon. Current laboratory bench micro- and nano-pumps, i.e., pumps that can deliver test compounds and therapeutic agents at micro- and nanoliter rates, are much too large for clinical use. So, a new generation of implantable and programmable micropumps is critically needed to test new drugs and novel delivery regimens in vivo. For example, the new micropumps will allow testing of emerging drug treatments in transgenic, knock-in, knockout and various strains of mice that model different human diseases. For example, for sensory systems, for treating hearing loss and deafness, it will be necessary to present a series of compounds over time periods exceeding the short time windows allowed now by experimental lab bench-top pump systems. More specifically, to treat or prevent age-related hearing loss- presbycusis, a highly prevalent form of hearing impairment affecting 10s of millions in the US alone, delivery of therapeutic agents over extended time periods will be needed. As novel micropumps are developed and tested in rodents, the transition to clinical trials in children and adults will be more facile due to the small sizes already achieved in our innovative animal model research. These implantable micropumps will be particularly important for local drug delivery where systemic delivery is not wanted due to deleterious side effects. Our micropumps will be programmable for multiple infusion rates and volumes, with future models having wireless controls, smart inputs and be refillable.

 

Tanika Williamson Wins Research Award

Please congratulate Tanika Williamson, M.S., who received the highly selective “2015 Most Successful Graduate Research Asst. Award” from the USF Chemical & Biomedical Engineering Dept. She received this at the 2015 ChemBME Dept. Awards Ceremony. The Chemical & Biomedical Engineering Dept. has about 100 graduate students (MS, PhD) annually, and each year our faculty gives one award to the most successful graduate student TA and one to the most successful RA for their outstanding accomplishments and service in these departmental priority areas. Tanika’s BME Neuroengineering Ph.D. research focuses upon the effects of sex hormones on sound processing by the auditory system; studying influences on hearing and speech perception.

 

 


 

Dr. Eddins Receives some Noteworthy Honors

In conjunction with May 2015 graduation ceremonies, Dr. David Eddins, Assoc. Director of USF’s Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is only the second person to receive the award in the history of this nationally prominent program. As the Distinguished Alumnus, he gave the 2015 commencement address in Chapel Hill. In addition, Dr. Eddins was recently elected to be a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America; and received the Excellence in Innovation Award from the University of South Florida Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors.


 

 

New Clinical Trial Grant Awarded

The challenges of preventing or treating age-related hearing loss (ARHL- presbycusis) share similarities with the other top two chronic medical conditions of our rapidly expanding aged population: cardiovascular disease and arthritis; costing billions of dollars annually. ARHL is the number 1 communication disorder and top neurodegenerative condition of our aged population. Its severity has been recently linked to earlier onset of dementia. The most common compliant from individuals with ARHL is difficulty hearing speech in background noise listening conditions, e.g., cocktail party. The negative impact of ARHL on the quality of life in our seniors warrants identifying novel interventions; as there are still no FDA-approved medical treatments for permanent hearing loss, including ARHL, despite prevalence of over 10% of our population, over 40 million people in the US alone.

 

An innovative team of researchers and clinicians at the University of South Florida have just been awarded a $400,000, year-long Clinical Trial grant to test the first drug in the world to advance to Phase 2 Clinical Trials for treating ARHL.

The USF team consists of:

 

- Dr. Robert Frisina, Principal Investigator; Professor of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering and Communication Sciences & Disorders; Biomedical Engineering Director; and Director of the USF Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research, College of Engineering

 

- Dr. Victoria Williams-Sanchez, Co-Investigator and Chief Coordinator of the Auditory Rehabilitation & Clinical Trials Laboratory; Research Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders; College of Behavioral & Community Sciences

 

- Dr. Terry Chisolm, Co-Investigator; Vice Provost and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders; Global Center Advisory Board Member; College of Behavioral & Community Sciences

 

- Dr. Paul Boyev, Medical Director & Co-Investigator; Assoc. Professor of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, Division Chief, Medicine/Otolaryngology; College of Medicine, USF Health

This Clinical Trial is organized and funded by a company in England called Autifony Therapeutics Limited (www.autifonytherapeutics.com ), and they have designated USF as the Lead Clinical Trial site for this FDA Phase 2 Trial. The primary goal is to investigate the potential therapeutic roles of modulating the action of voltage-gated potassium channels in the brain for mitigating key elements of presbycusis, such as improved speech-in-noise recognition and processing. The new drug is given each morning orally to improve hearing each day, like Ritalin, so children concentrate better each day.

Website Release: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20150212/USF-researchers-awarded-grant-to-test-new-drug-for-age-related-hearing-loss.aspx

 

 

Invited Presentations at the Acoustical Society

Four USF Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) faculty, affiliated with the Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research, were invited to lecture at the Fall 2014 meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Indianapolis. Dr. Catherine Rogers presented a talk entitled “Vowels in clear and conversational speech: Within-talker variability in acoustic characteristics” in a special session to honor her mentor Dr. Diane Kewley-Port.

Drs. Ann Eddins, David Eddins, and Joseph Walton each made presentations in a day-long special session on Central Auditory Dysfunction. Dr. Walton’s talk was entitled “Neural correlates of central auditory processing deficits in the auditory midbrain in an animal model of age-related hearing loss.” Drs. Ann and David Eddins co-authored two invited talks entitled “Aging as a window into central auditory dysfunction: Combining behavioral and electrophysiological approaches” and “Age-related declines in hemispheric asymmetry as revealed in the binaural interaction component.”

 

Website Release: http://intra.cbcs.usf.edu/MediaTracker/common/cfm/Unsecured/csd/ViewNews.cfm?NewsID=1127


 

 

Invited Talk at Purdue University

In September, 2014, Dr. Robert Frisina , Director of USF’s Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, presented an invited talk, entitled “Neural and Molecular Bases of Age-Related Hearing Loss: Can we Modulate Presbycusis?”, Biological Sciences Seminar Series, Purdue University, September 2014. Dr. Frisina’s presentation focused on both human and animal model studies of how hormones can affect our hearing; and how initial evidence is coming forward for how aldosterone, the primary hormone in our body that regulates sodium and potassium, may be able to slow down the progression of age-related hearing loss.


 

 

International Workshop on Antioxidant Prevention of Hearing Loss

On May 10, 2014, Dr. Robert Frisina , Director of USF’s Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, presented an invited talk, entitled “Genetics of Age-Related Hearing Loss and Future Directions” at an international workshop on antioxidant therapies and hearing loss treatments. Dr. Frisina’s presentation focused on evidence for interactions between genetics, free radicals, oxidative stress and hearing impairment. Dr. Frisina presented evidence revealing that in some cases animal model gene expression studies, particularly in mice, can identify hearing-loss related genes that can be furthered explored in human subject populations. The proceedings of this conference will be published in an upcoming book on free radicals in otolaryngology, by Springer Press later this year.


 

 

Assoc. for Research in Otolaryngology International Meeting

Drs. Bo Ding and Joshua Halonen, Research Associates in the Global Center Walton laboratory, and Dr. Xiaoxia Zhu, Senior Technician of the Frisina laboratory, along with BME PhD students Tanika Williamson, Elliott Brecht and Jeanine Mansour made presentations at the international meeting of the Assoc. for Research in Otolaryngology, February 22-26, 2014 in San Diego, CA. These investigational reports focused upon different aspects of the interactions of hormones, auditory processing and age-related hearing loss, aimed at development of new biomedical interventions and drugs to prevent age-linked hearing loss or other forms of permanent sensorineural hearing impairment. These researchers will present further progress on these lines of translational research at the international meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, coming up in November 2014 in Washington DC.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Indiana University International Meeting on the Aging Auditory System

Biannually, Indiana University (IU) organizes an international research gathering, where many of the top groups in the world studying age-related hearing loss gather to exchange ideas and share new research advances. This noteworthy meeting is sponsored by IU and the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Deafness & Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and several prominent hearing aid companies, namely Starkey, Phonak and Resound. At the most recent meeting, October 6-9, 2013, Dr. Ann Eddins gave an invited presentation entitled “Age-Related Changes in Neural Processing of Binaural Temporal Cues in Normal Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Adults”, in a session moderated by Dr. Bob Frisina, both Core Members of the Global Center. The University of South Florida was well represented at this conference, as Dr. Terry Chisolm, a faculty member of one of the anchor departments of the Global Center, the Dept. of Communication Sciences & Disorders, in collaboration with Dr. Rachel McArdle of the Bay Pines VA Hospital, gave an invited talk “Individual Differences and Evidence-Based Audiology Interventions for Older Adults”; and Drs. Xiaoxia Zhu and Bo Ding presented posters on the biological bases of age-related hearing loss. Lastly, Dr. Frisina participates as a member of the international organizing committee for this provocative meeting on aging and speech communication.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Dr. Joseph Walton Presents at NIH

Dr. Joseph Walton, Assoc. Director of the Global Center and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders and Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, gave an invited talk in a session titled “Bottom-up Auditory Processing and Plasticity in Aging Model Organisms”, at an international workshop at the National Institutes of Health- NIH, centered on age changes in the auditory nervous system. This workshop was organized by Dr. Wen Chen, Program Director, Sensory and Motor Disorders of Aging, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch, Division of Neuroscience, National Institute on Aging. Drs. Ann and David Eddins, Core Faculty of the Global Center, and Jeanine Mansour, Global Center PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, also attended this interesting meeting entitled “Auditory Plasticity and Aging”. This scientific gathering was particularly relevant for the Global Center’s most extensive grant, an NIH Program Project Grant on the perceptual and biological aspects of age-related hearing loss.


Workshop website >>

 

 

GCHSR Researchers Identify Gene Linked to Old Age Hearing Loss

University of South Florida researchers have identified a genetic biomarker for age-related hearing loss, a major breakthrough in understanding and preventing a condition of aging that affects 30 million Americans and greatly diminishes their quality of life.
In a nine-year study that was a collaboration between USF's Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, researchers were able to identify the first genetic biomarker for presbycusis. The genetic mutation carried by those who ultimately suffer from age-related hearing loss is linked to speech processing abilities in older people.

Their findings are published in the journal Hearing Research. The study was authored by USF College of Engineering professors Robert Frisina Jr. and Robert Frisina Sr., the founders of the Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research, and David Eddins, a USF associate professor of communication sciences and disorders and chemical and biological engineering.

In collaboration with the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, the researchers discovered a gene that produces a key protein in the inner ear – the cochlea – called glutamate receptor metabotropic 7 (GRM7). The GRM7 protein is intimately involved in converting sound into the code of the nervous system, in the cochlea, which is then sent to the parts of the brain used for hearing and speech processing. Now having identified the gene, the researchers said people can be tested and takes steps earlier in life – such as avoiding loud noises, wearing ear protection and avoiding certain medicines known to damage hearing – to protect their hearing.

"This gene is the first genetic biomarker for human age related hearing loss, meaning if you had certain configurations of this gene you would know that you are probably going to lose your hearing faster than someone who might have another configuration," said Robert Frisina Jr. The Frisinas launched their study of genetics' role in hearing loss nine years ago in hopes of identifying the cause of one of the most common forms of permanent hearing loss. Clinically, age-related hearing loss has been defined as a progressive loss of sensitivity to sound, starting at the high frequencies, inability to understand speech, the lengthening of the minimum discernible temporal gap in sounds, and a decrease in the ability to filter out background noise. Researchers now know the causes of presbycusis are likely a combination of multiple environmental and genetic factors.

"Age-related hearing loss is a very prevalent problem in our society. It costs billions of dollars every year to manage and deal with it. It's right up there with heart disease and arthritis as far as being one of the top three chronic medical conditions of the aged," said Robert Frisina Jr. DNA analyses were conducted and completed at the University of Rochester Medical School and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The study involved 687 people who underwent three hours of extensive examination of their hearing capabilities, including genetic analyses and testing of speech processing. Interestingly, the gene mutation played out differently in women than in men, the researchers found. While the variation had a negative impact for men, it did the opposite for women, who actually had better than average hearing in their elder years. That discovery supports a 2006 finding by the Frisina research group that the hormone aldosterone plays a role in hearing capabilities.


Online Article >>

 

 

Genetic Variation Linked to Age-related Hearing Loss

A team of NIH-supported researchers has confirmed a link between age-related hearing loss and a gene producing a key protein in the inner ear. The findings reinforce observations in older people that genetics and environment interact, linking age-related hearing loss to other neurodegenerative risk factors. Results of the nine-year study were published online on October 25, 2012, in Hearing Research.

The study confirms the genetic association and, for the first time, establishes a link between a gene and difficulties with speech perception in older people. Previous research in a large group of older adults in Europe had identified a significant risk factor associated with age-related hearing impairment (ARHI) in the glutamate metabotrophic receptor 7 (GRM7) gene.

The research team analyzed data from 687 individuals (59 percent female) from the Rochester, New York, greater metropolitan area. All study participants were white, with an average age of 71 and not related to anyone else in the study. Participants had a wide range of hearing abilities and underwent extensive standard and specialized assessments of hearing. Importantly, the researchers conducted tests of speech reception thresholds (SRTs) as well as pure-tone thresholds (PTs). DNA was taken from blood or tissue samples.

Clinically, PTs are used to measure the basic level of hearing ability and sensitivity to sounds. But they do not indicate how well a person can perceive and process speech, which is a significant problem for older people with hearing loss. Deficits in speech detection can detract from productivity, quality of life, and psychological well-being for older people.

The study results show that GRM7 is significantly associated with PT and SRT. This is the first investigation of genetic associations with measures of speech perception in older adults, supporting the role of GRM7 contributing to age-related hearing loss and speech perception.

ARHI, also known as presbycusis, is one of the top three chronic medical conditions of older people, along with high blood pressure, and arthritis. More than 37 percent of people 65 and older report some trouble hearing; this increases to almost 59 percent in people 85 and older. Many older people find it difficult to adapt to hearing loss; this can result in communication difficulties at work and at home, leading to psychological problems, isolation and depression.

Reference: Newman DL, et al. GRM7 variants associated with age-related hearing loss based on auditory perception, Hearing Research (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2012.08.016


NIH Newsroom >>

 

 

Society for Neuroscience International Meeting

The Society for Neuroscience is a premier, international society focused upon studies of the brain and nervous system, attracting more than 30,000 attendees to its annual meeting. The annual meeting is organized into seven broad Theme Areas covering the field of neuroscience. Dr. Bob Frisina, Professor of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering and Communications Sciences & Disorders, organized a special session for this year's meeting, taking place October 13-17, in New Orleans, LA. The symposium is entitled "Age-Related Hearing Loss: From Animal Models to Human Perceptual Deficits and Back Again", for the Theme Area: Sensory and Motor Systems. This year only four Symposia were selected by the Organizing Committee for the Sensory and Motor Systems Theme Area. Dr. Joe Walton, Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders and Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, will be on of the four featured speakers in this Symposium, presenting a talk on the neural bases of age-related hearing loss, featuring the latest findings from mouse animal models.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Francis Crick Memorial Conference International Meeting

Jeanine Mansour, a biomedical engineer from Vanderbilt, recently finished her Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering here at the USF College of Engineering. She is now entering our PhD Program in Biomedical Engineering. As part of her Master's work she completed an Independent Study with Dr. Bob Frisina, exploring aspects of a new way to measure brain activity with a much simpler "electrode" system than is currently used clinically or in human neurophysiology research. This system, although simpler to implement, has a much more sophisticated signal processing system, compared to current EEG paradigms (electroencephalography). This novel system may be a new window into our brain, with applications in areas such as "physiological genetics" or biomarkers, controlling prosthetic systems for paralyzed patients, and revealing new insights into animal consciousness. Ms. Mansour's independent study culminated in attending an international conference in Cambridge, England, focusing on these new research areas, and she was able to meet the inventor of this new neurophysiological recording system.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Lake Como Italy International Audiological Meeting

The Lake Como Italy, June 7-9 2012, annual international meeting on audiology is becoming a noteworthy tradition in the fields of hearing research and clinical audiology. This year's meeting highlights Adult Hearing Screening, at which Dr. Robert Frisina, Director of USF's GCHSR and Professor of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, will give a keynote address entitled "Neurobiological and Genetic Bases of Age-Related Hearing Loss: Biotherapeutic Implications". Dr. Frisina will be joined by Dr. Terry Chisolm, Chair of one of the Global Center's anchor departments, the Communication Sciences & Disorders Dept. of the College of Behavioral & Community Sciences. Dr. Chisolm will also be giving a keynote presentation: "Learning to Listen Again: The Role of Auditory Training in the Management of Hearing Loss in Adults".


Meeting website >>

 

 

Hong Kong International Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America

The international meetings of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) are important interdisciplinary gatherings spanning the fields of physics, acoustics, engineering, architecture, and the hearing and speech sciences. The most recent ASA meeting was held Hong Kong, May 13-18 2012. In addition to networking with many national and international colleagues, Drs. David and Ann Eddins of USF's GCHSR, contributed four presentations at this meeting:


"Behavioral and electrophysiological measures of stimulus envelope and fine structure contributions to the binaural masking level difference" by Eddins, A.C., Kline, M., and Eddins, D.A. This paper was sponsored by the NIH P01 (Frisina, PI; D. Eddins, Co-I) and sets the stage for identifying cortical signatures of possible binaural deficits associated with age-related hearing loss.


"Comparison of pure tone thresholds obtained via automated audiometry and standard pure tone audiometry" by Eddins, D.A., Walton, J.P., Dziorny, A. E., and Frisina, Robert D. Sponsored by a sub-contract from NIH, this project reported preliminary results from the automated test of hearing developed by the GCHSR team in support of the emerging NIH Toolbox Initiative:www.nihtoolbox.org


"The influence of amplitude modulation depth on perceived roughness of vowels" By Shrivastav, R., Kopf, L. and Eddins, D.A. This project focused on characterizing a voice disorder known as dysphonia and combines rigorous methods from the field of psychoacoustics to a real-world clinical problem faced by otolaryngologists and speech-language pathologists. The work is sponsored by an R01 award (PI – R. Shrivastav) to Michigan State University and USF (PI, D. Eddins).


"The usefulness of the modified nonsense syllable test as a measure of speech identification" by Shrivastav, M., and Eddins, D.A. Sponsored by NIH R03 (M. Shrivastav), this work focuses on streamlining speech perception tests used as an assay of speech perception deficits associated with aging and hearing loss that gives access to information about phoneme-level errors.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Society for Neuroscience International Meeting

Dr. Bo Ding, a Research Associate in the Walton laboratory, and Dr. Xiaoxia Zhu, Senior Technician of the Frisina laboratory, made presentations at the international meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, November 14, 2011 in Washington D.C. Dr. Ding's presentation was entitled "Enhanced protein expression of Na-K-Cl cotransporter (NKCC1) by aldosterone is a putative factor in regulation of age-related hearing loss". "Serum aldosterone levels decrease in old mice with age-related hearing loss" was the title of Dr. Zhu's research presentation. These investigations focus on the interactions of hormones and hearing loss, aimed at development of new biomedical interventions and drugs to prevent age-related hearing loss or other forms of permanent sensorineural hearing impairment. Drs. Zhu and Ding will present further progress on these lines of translational research at the international meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, February 2012, San Diego, CA.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Veterans Administration International Meeting on Hearing Research

On October 13, 2011, Dr. Robert Frisina , Director of USF's Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research, presented an invited talk, entitled "Hormones and Hearing: Too Much or Too Little of a Good Thing can be Ototoxic" at the 5th International NCRAR Veterans Administration Conference in Portland Oregon: "Expanding our Horizons: Medical Conditions and Audiology". Dr. Frisina's presentation focused on evidence for interactions between hormones, including sex hormones and physiological regulatory hormones. Dr. Frisina presented evidence revealing that in some cases these hormones can be protective, whereas in other situations they are linked to hearing loss – ototoxic. The proceedings of this VA Conference will be published in an upcoming issue of the Seminars in Hearing auditory research journal.


Meeting website >>

 

 

Indiana University International Meeting on the Aging Auditory System

Every two years, Indiana University (IU) organizes an international research gathering, where most of the top groups in the world studying age-related hearing loss gather to exchange ideas and share new research advances. This noteworthy meeting is sponsored by IU and the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Deafness & Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and several prominent hearing aid companies, namely Starkey, Oticon and Beltone. At the most recent meeting, on October 10 2011, Drs. Joe Walton, Ann and Dave Eddins, and Bob Frisina, presented an invited workshop entitled "Biological Underpinnings of the Aging Auditory System". The University of South Florida was well represented at this conference, as several faculty members of one of the anchor departments of the Global Center, the Dept. of Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) and the School of Aging Studies, gave invited talks. These included Dr. Jennifer Lister, "Effects of Auditory Training and Music Background: A CAEP Study of Older Adults"; Dr. Jerri Edwards, "The Importance of Visual Function and Cognitive Speed-of-Processing in Explaining Cognitive Decline"; and Chair of the CSD Dept., Dr. Terry Chisolm, "Can We Teach "Old Ears" New Tricks? Auditory Training in Older Adults". Lastly, Dr. Frisina was invited to join the international organizing committee for this provocative meeting on aging and speech communication.


Meeting website >>