Hearing industry consortium awards grants to three researchers

MINNEAPOLIS—Three scientists who are conducting research intended to improve the ability of people with hearing loss to understand speech were selected by the Hearing Industry Research Consortium (IRC) to receive the organization’s latest research grants.

The consortium was established in 2012 for the purpose of advancing a mutually agreed upon research agenda that will benefit the hearing aid industry, its customers, and the users of hearing aids. The IRC members are the heads of research of the six largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world: GN ReSound, Oticon, Phonak, Siemens Hearing Instruments, Starkey Hearing Technologies, and Widex.

Steve Colburn
Steve Colburn

One of the $150,000 grants was awarded to the team of Theo Goverts, PhD, and Steve Colburn, PhD. Goverts is head of the Audiological Center and a medical physicist audiologist at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. Colburn is the director of the Hearing Research Center and professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University. Their research collaboration will take a detailed look at speech recognition in realistic dynamic listening scenarios.

The other $150,000 grant will go to Virginia Best, PhD, who is a research scientist at the National Acoustic Laboratories in Sydney, as well as a research assistant professor at the Hearing Research Center at Boston University. She will be researching a dynamic speech comprehension task for assessing real-world listening ability and hearing aid benefit.




Virginia Best
Virginia Best

In expressing her appreciation of the consortium’s support, Best said, “The grant will enable us to develop a new test that measures how well people can follow dynamic conversations in noisy places. Using this test we will also gather new knowledge about how hearing loss and hearing aids affect this critical part of everyday communication.”

Goverts said that he and Colburn are “very excited by the opportunities provided by this grant to address questions related to spatial hearing in complicated listening situations. We hope that our work will help audiologists to better treat people with hearing problems.”

The consortium selected the grant recipients from among 24 proposals submitted by scientists from around the world in response to the 2013 request for proposals.

Stefan Launer, PhD, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the consortium this year, said, “We are very pleased to have received quite a large number of excellent proposals from renowned universities all around the world. It shows that we have selected a topic of great interest and potential for the research community and thus our entire industry.”

Launer, who is vice-president, advanced concepts and technology at Phonak, added, “We have selected proposals that present a mixture between innovative approaches to basic science and direct clinical applicability. We wish the two selected research teams great success with their projects, and we very much look forward to seeing the results being openly and publicly presented and discussed. Hopefully this initiative will stimulate further research in this exciting field.”

In May 2013, the consortium awarded its first grants to Piers Dawes, PhD, and Andrea Pittman, PhD, for research designed to advance the understanding of the interaction between cognition and hearing aids.