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Our research: preventing hearing loss

We fund research to understand what causes hearing loss so we can develop and test ways to prevent it.


Our research goals

We know many of the causes of hearing loss, such as ageing and loud noise. But we don’t fully understand the processes that cause damage to our hearing and the biology behind it. We need this knowledge to develop treatments that can prevent this damage from occurring in the first place – and protect people’s hearing.

We fund research to:

  • find out what causes hearing loss
  • help us understand more about the biology behind different types of hearing loss
  • improve how we measure and monitor hearing loss so that we can diagnose it more accurately
  • develop and test ways and treatments to prevent it from happening.

Stay up to date with research progress


What we’re funding now

Improving the diagnosis of age-related hearing loss

Researcher
Professor Karen Steel
Where
King’s College London

Read more about Professor Karen Steel’s project


Researcher
Dr Morag Lewis
Where
King’s College London

Read more about Dr Morag Lewis’ research project


Can improving blood supply to the inner ear prevent hearing loss?

Researcher
Dr Dan Jagger
Where
UCL Ear Institute

Read more about Dr Dan Jagger’s project


Investigating the role of VRAC proteins in how ototoxic medicines cause hearing loss

Researcher
Professor Corné Kros
Where
University of Sussex

Read more about Professor Corné Kros’ project


Researcher
Dr Sally Dawson
Where
University College London

Read more about Dr Sally Dawson’s project


Researcher
Dr Brian Allman
Where
University of Western Ontario, Canada

Read more about Dr Brian Allman’s research project


Researcher
Dr Piers Dawes
Where
University of Manchester

Read more about Dr Piers Dawe’s research project


Discovering more about how hair cells turn sound waves into a message the brain can understand

Researcher
Professor Walter Marcotti
Where
University of Sheffield

Read more about Professor Walter Marcotti’s research project


Developing more accurate and specific tests to diagnose hearing loss

Researcher
Dr Torsten Marquardt
Where
University College London

Read more about Dr Torsten Marquardt’s project


Researcher
Dr Nicolas Michalski
Where
Institut Pasteur

Read more about Dr Nicolas Michalski’s project.


The role of the protein CLIC5 in hearing and deafness

Researcher
Dr Bo Zhao
Where
Indiana University

Read more about Dr Bo Zhao’s research project


How does hearing loss affect cognition?

Researcher
Dr Emma Holmes
Where
University College London

Read more about Dr Emma Holmes’ project


How the brain adapts to hearing loss in 1 ear only

Student
Ana Isabel Sanchez Jimenez
Where
University of Oxford

Read more about Ana Isabel Sanchez Jiminez’s project


How the connections between the ear and the brain change with age

Student
Andrew O’Connor
Where
University of Sheffield

Read more about Andrew O’Connor’s project


Understanding how changes in inner ear supporting cells are involved in age-related hearing loss

Student
Sarah Hool
Where
University of Sheffield

Read more about Sarah Hool’s project


Understanding the role of mitochondria in hearing loss

Researcher
Thomas Smith
Where
University of Manchester

Read more about Thomas Smith’s project


Our progress

Discovering new genes for hearing loss

In 2019, our funding led to the identification of 44 new genes linked to age-related hearing loss. Helena Wells, a PhD student we funded in Professor Frances William’s lab at King’s College London, used data from the UK Biobank to find these new genes. The UK Biobank is tracking different health characteristics in 500,000 people aged between 40 and 69 over time. Before this study, only five genes had been found. These new genes can help develop new treatments to prevent or treat hearing loss.

Protecting hearing in newborn babies

Drugs called aminoglycosides are antibiotics that are crucial for treating serious infections. They can be life-saving for premature babies, but can also cause hearing loss.

In 2016, we helped fund the development of a quick genetic test to identify if someone was at risk of developing hearing loss from these drugs. Dr Bill Newman, at the University of Manchester, developed the test that is currently being clinically tested. If successful, it could protect around 180 babies a year from losing their hearing.

Find out more about our research achievements


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