The Giants of Audiology: Interview with Frank Musiek

frank music audiology neuroaudiology interview
January 17, 2023
The Giants of Audiology is a segment where host Bob Traynor will be joined by some of the profession’s most influential figures. In this week’s episode, we are joined by Dr. Frank Musiek – a renowned hearing researcher, scholar, teacher and clinical audiologist.
His research career has contributed in a substantial way to our fundamental understanding of the anatomy, physiology and neurophysiology of the human auditory system.
Dr. Musiek has published over 140 refereed articles and presented more than 220 invited lectures and seminars and nearly 300 papers at national and international conferences, research symposia and other venues around the world. He has developed four clinical audiologic tests, three of which are mainstays of the clinical central auditory test battery. He has published nine books and authored no fewer than 35 book chapters.

Full Episode Transcript

Bob Traynor 0:14
Welcome to This Week in Hearing. Hi, I’m Bob Traynor, your host for our special segment on Giants in Audiology. We’re going to begin the year with a very special guest. If you’ve studied anything in the area of central auditory assessment, central auditory anatomy, physiology, brainstem anatomy, physiology, and brainstem assessment, you will certainly recognize Dr. Frank Musiek. I want to thank Frank for sharing with us today, his journey through his career in audiology. And thanks so much for being with us, Frank. We very much appreciate your time, energy and effort that has gone into the preparation for our discussion today.

Frank Musiek 1:10
Bob, I’m first of all pleased for the opportunity and it’s always nice to talk with you and I’m looking forward to interesting conversation here.

Bob Traynor 1:20
Great. Well, before we get going, I want to read your bio for the group, so everyone can appreciate where we’re going with this discussion. Dr. Frank Musiek is a renowned hearing researcher, scholar, teacher and clinical audiologist. His research on electrophysiology, central auditory processing and neuroanatomy has led to the discovery and implementation of numerous assessment tools that are widely used for assessment of the auditory brainstem and central auditory pathways. His research has contributed in a substantial way to our fundamental understanding of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology of the human auditory system, and the emerging field of neural audiology. He was a recipient of the James Jerger Career Award for research in audiology by the American Academy of Audiology, in 2007, the recipient of the American Speech Language Hearing Association, honors of the Association for Audiology and audiology neuroscience in 2010. And received the well Arch Gold Medal Award for research in central auditory disorders in 2020. Dr. Musiek has published over 180 peer reviewed articles in journals that are audiology journals, but also journals outside of our area as well, and authored or edited 11 books. I want to welcome Dr. Muisek to Giants in hearing. And thank you very much for being with us today, Frank, and sharing your journey through audiology with us.

Frank Musiek 3:26
About first of all, thanks for the introduction. And I appreciate that. And yeah, I started out at Edinboro, because primarily, I was interested in continuing sports, playing football, which kind of got me to college. If it wasn’t for that I don’t think I may not have even gone or at least gone for a while. But Edinboro was close by it was an opportunity for me to go there and to can you continue in sports and you know, as a teenager, those things strike you first. But I actually was it was a was a biology major. And later in my time there at Edinboro, I picked up a course in audiology because I was interested in hearing. And because of that I kind of got interested into the hearing aspect of things and was able to collect a few more hours that were needed. That allowed me to get into a master’s degree program later on. But actually, my interest was in biology and I was always interested in how we could understand what the brain was doing by measuring different kinds of visual and auditory manipulations, even as an undergraduate that always kind of baffled me as to how we could understand what the brain was doing by going through sensory systems. And I kind of I guess I kind of stayed with that.

Bob Traynor 5:04
But there was another activity that was quite a part of your life there at Edinboro. And understand it was in addition to football,

Frank Musiek 5:14
I was a Olympic competitive weightlifter and was ranked naturally, for a couple years, towards my end of my time at Edinboro, and then for a couple years after, and I devoted an awful lot of time to that and was kind of on track to be one of the Olympic candidates. But some bad injuries bothered me at that point in time, and I failed to make that. But that was a big part of what I did, especially in the couple years after I after I graduated. So sports are a big part of my life. And it’s been a big part of my family. And my two boys were outstanding athletes, too. So yeah, that was a big part of what I did. And it gave me some grounding in terms of competitiveness, as well as, I guess tenacity which you learn in sports.

Bob Traynor 6:09
And none of us ever have enough money to go to school, particularly as undergraduates. And you had some summer positions that took you that you took between the years of your education.

Frank Musiek 6:22
Yeah, you’re right. And it was very important because I was lucky enough to be able to land a summer job working on building construction in Meadville, Pennsylvania, close to Edinboro. And that really paid me well, it was hard work. But I earned enough money to help pay my way through through Edinboro, which at that point, time was very inexpensive. And of course, that was a major consideration. And with this job, I was able to, you know, save enough money so I could get through four years at Edinboro,

Bob Traynor 6:58
the builders probably appreciate it a weightlifter to lift a lot of the things that go into the building trade out from there, I understand that your master’s program was done at Kent State in Ohio. And there were a number of your classmates which we will all recognize at Kent State.

Frank Musiek 7:19
Yeah, you’re right on that by by the group that I started out with at the time, we didn’t know. You know, we were going to matriculate into kind of frontline audiologists. But actually, Linda Hood was in my class, Bob Glazer, Bob Margolis was actually a year ahead of us and Jerry Pavelka was also in that class. So we had quite a group of people all converging at Kent State University at the same time.

Bob Traynor 7:49
And that look might have led to some interesting discussions in audiology, but probably some discussions outside of the field as well.

Frank Musiek 7:58
Well, there’s one of the more interesting things, at least from my account, that happen there. You have to understand, Bob, that when I went to Kent State University, I was primarily in training for trying to make the Olympic team and in competitive Olympic weightlifting. And one of the main things that I did when I got to Kent State was they had an unbelievable weight room, out in the field house, which was a ways away from the Speech and Hearing Center. And you have to remember that I was a biology major kind of shifting over into hearing. And so I didn’t know a lot of the finer points about speech and hearing. And when I went to Kent State, I was primarily interested in training in the Fieldhouse, and getting my lifting abilities up. And I didn’t hang around the Speech and Hearing Center very much. And Linda Hood was always after me. And she said, Frank, you’ve got to spend more time over here and not at the field house. And I kind of brushed it off and didn’t think a whole lot of it. Well, it came about three or four months before graduation time. And Ken Berger, who was head of the department at that time, called me in and said, Frank, there must be some mistake here. And for some reason, I don’t see you down as having any clinical hours. And this struck me as something unusual because I hadn’t even thought about clinical hours. And I must have missed that lecture or miss that notification that we had to obtain clinical hours, much less than they do today. But nonetheless, I didn’t have any at that point in time and Ken was stymied as he said, I can’t believe you’ve gone this far in the program and you don’t have any clinical hours. Well luckily what happened was there was a person there. His name was Tom Bezozi was director at of Speech and Hearing down in and Canton I believe, and And Tom had read some news articles about me doing weightlifting, and came up to me after talking with Ken Berger and said, Frank, I can get you a lot of hours, we will quick if you just do a couple of interviews for us. For the local paper, I said, Tom, that’s a deal. And so we carried on and in a matter of three, about three months, I was able to accumulate a whole lot of hours very quickly, and barely, barely escaped with graduation, later on in in that summer. So that was quite an exciting time. And Linda Hood still scratches their head and still tells that story. That interaction, so yeah, it was, you know, I was a little naive about what was going on and speech and hearing, it was kind of secondary my life at that point in time.

Bob Traynor 10:50
That sounds like a bit of a trade off between marketing and getting some clinical hours, which I think was pretty beneficial for all of us. Because without the clinical hours, you would have had some issues with graduation. And we may not have known you for the for all of the contributions that you’ve made to the profession. Okay. Then we would say next, where it was on to Case Western Reserve for the PhD. Can you tell us about some of your experiences, their PhD programs are always one of those things, where you learn a lot, and you totally appreciate your mentors. But there are always some ups and downs and highs and lows in those programs.

Frank Musiek 11:42
Yeah, what was interesting about that is is that was really another big break that I got by going to Case Western Reserve because at that point in time, I had an opportunity to talk to just before I left Kent State talk to Joe Mellon, and Joe Mellon and told me said Frank he says, you know, we concentrated on aural rehab, and hearing aids here at Kent State. And he says, I can tell that’s not where your interests lies. And he said, You know, there’s a person up at Case Western Reserve by the name of Marilyn Pinero, who kind of aligns with a lot of your interests in terms of physiology, and central auditory, and diagnostic audiology. And so I kind of got directed towards Marilyn. And as I read some of her work, and got to know her, I realized this was one of the key connections that I was going to have, at Case Western Reserve because Marilyn was a person who not only got a PhD in audiology but served three years as a postdoc in neurology, at Case Western Reserve with Joe Foley, who was a world renowned neurologist at that time. And so her interest is clearly in terms of how does the the brain handle acoustic stimuli. And that really fascinated me. And so I learned a lot from her, she actually moved out of Case Western Reserve and took a position at the Ohio College of Medicine, as I believe one of the few, or one of the first women, professors of neuroscience. And though she was away, she’s still served as a mentor to me over those years and guided me, along with Randy Beetle, who was my advisor at Case Western Reserve who allowed me to do a lot of lot of the things that maybe a lot of other students didn’t get a chance to do. One of them was actually ended up being a very important one. And that was my interaction with a professor of Otolaryngology by the name of Vladimir Jordan, who was a short, stocky potbellied guy who has kind of balled and swore up and down each side of the page, so to speak. But he was a great teacher and I had a heart of gold. Anyway, I was able to take a year of temporal bone anatomy from Val Jordan, at reserve in the inner ear histology lab that he put together there, which was really a great experience. And it was a very tough course. And he was difficult at times. And I was the only audiologist there I was taking it with three or four other ENT residents, and fellows. And so I really, I really had my plate full, so to speak. But I managed to get through that and towards the end of that year, which was my last year at Case Western Reserve. I was talking to Val Jordan and in his typical gruff way he says, well, Musiek What the hell are you going to be doing? here and that next year, and I said, Well, you know, Dr. Jordan, I’ve put in a couple of applications, but I haven’t heard anything yet. And he said, Well, he says, Let me tell you something. He says, you know, there’s a school that I go to on my way to Maine every year, because we have a place up there in Maine for our summer getaway. And it’s a hell of a good place. It’s called Dartmouth, and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. He says they’ve got some good things going up there. It’s kind of cold, but he said it’s a good place. But he says, Moreover, he says, I have a guy up there by the name Nate Gerking. Who was one of my residents and took the same course you took. And he said, you know, he says, if you haven’t heard from anybody, he says, I’ll give him a call. Because I think, I think they may need an audiologist up there. And if they don’t, they should. And so either that day, or a day later, when I was in the lab, I can’t remember exactly, but I know I remember sitting at a desk by the temporal bone anatomy, microscope, and Val Jordan got on the phone, and not more than five or six feet away from me calls Dartmouth. And he, he asks for Dr. Gerking. And luckily, Gerking wasn’t in surgery, but he was in his office, and he got on the phone. And I could hear Val Jordan say, well, Gerking, what the hell are you doing out there and what’s going on? And, and the end of the conversation was, well, if you don’t have a position you should have and you should hire this kid. I’m telling you this right now. And he hung up. Well, believe it or not, in about a week, I got a letter from Dartmouth College asking if I was interested in a position as director of audiology because they, they didn’t have audiology at that time. They had itinerant people coming in to do their audiology. And of course, I was, I had kind of known about it from what Val Jordan had said, To make a long story short, that got my foot in the door. And I don’t know how I still managed to get that position, because certainly they had people more qualified than me, but I ended up there. And that was really a stroke of luck.

Bob Traynor 17:19
I understand that was not an easy course you were taking from Dr. Jordan. Those T bone courses are really difficult. Having tried to do dissection on temporal bones, I usually ended up killing the patient each time. So I know how difficult that kind of a course can be. And so as you as you moved on to Dartmouth was that in 75, or 76,

Frank Musiek 17:48
my official appointment was in 76, at the medical school, but actually started a few months early in terms of getting the clinic underway there, which of course, they they, they had a clinic, but it was small, and it really wasn’t it needed a lot of updating, so to speak. And

Bob Traynor 18:07
by then I assumed you had obtained a lot more clinical hours.

Frank Musiek 18:14
I sure did. Well, in fact, you know, Bob is the other thing that’s interesting is that halfway through my are in my second year at Case Western Reserve. Reserve is expensive school. It’s a private and expensive school. And I got through my first year, okay, but in my second year there, I was running out of money to make it to make a long story short, and I really needed to because I wasn’t on a grant at that point in time. And I needed to get some money. I applied for a job, I believe it was called the Lakewood clinic or something like that. It’s very small clinic that had a small audiology department because there was a, an opening there. And they paid very, very well. I applied for that position, and was able to get it as a part time student there. Well, I was actually learning earning hours for my CFY and Randy Beetle was very kind and very helpful in allowing me to do that to continue on the program. And at the Lakewood clinic. I had to do everything. So the reason I got paid so well is because I was doing about three different jobs. I actually had to schedule the patients. I didn’t have to call them for appointments, but I had to schedule the patients had to do everything from A to Z at that clinic. And I will tell you, as some people would say, Well, you shouldn’t be doing that. I learned the ropes very well from beginning to end and it was a valuable, valuable experience for me so that when I I went to Dartmouth. And they started talking to me about, you know, scheduling patients and how the clinic was going to run. I had all this background, first hand background, which I think kind of impressed them, at least from a clinical standpoint, because I knew about patients, how to schedule them, when not to schedule him, how to talk to him on the phone, all of these kinds of things, and most audiologists actually don’t get experience. And so actually, it’s kind of an interesting turn of events, it again, serve to kind of help me,

Bob Traynor 20:32
a lot of us some of those lower level things that we did, as part of our academic and clinical journey through audiology really helped us later to do the things that we have become more known for. So how about that clinic at Dartmouth and its development?

Frank Musiek 20:55
Yeah, well, I was fortunate to like land in a department where the otolaryngology people, the otologists, were very, very accommodating and had a very, how shall we say pleasing, and respectful view of Audiology. They were academicians. So they had to publish things. And they understood what that took. And they wanted me to not only help with the clinic, but of course, published things so that they could, of course make their way as well as me made my way in the publishing world. And so it was an amazing situation, because when I went there, the department actually had what was actually the Department of Surgery, ENT was- audiology was a section under it. But they had I had access to to I repeat to editorial assistants, that would help in terms of publishing articles, which just flabbergasted me I couldn’t didn’t even know those kinds of things existed. And so they did everything they could to make me successful while I was there, and that was one of the main things because, you know, as we write IRBs now well, we had IRBs back then they weren’t as detailed. But I hardly ever wrote an IRB, because it was always done by my editorial assistants. When they put it together, most of our most of the time, I just signed off on it. So it was a wonderful situation. And we were able to turn out an awful lot of articles in a very short period of time, as well as getting the clinic upon going away. But the support, there was nothing short of unbelievable. And since then, I’ve reflected back on it and realize how fortunate I was to have such a team working with me.

Bob Traynor 22:56
Well, you actually had one of the first Nicolay units for doing brainstem testing. I thought I was an early guy in ABR, when I had a ca 1000 in about ’82. My understanding is that you had a predecessor to the ca 1000. That was at a much higher level than most of us saw in the clinic.

Frank Musiek 23:21
Yeah, that’s right, we had an 1170. Or sometimes it’s called an 1174, which Kurt Hicock talked me into buying at Dartmouth, because he felt the C 1000 was strictly a clinical instrument. And he felt that I was going to be doing some research and thought that the 1174 which has all the components of a ca 1000 might be better suited. And and actually in the long run it was it had great facility due to a lot of kinds of analyses that necessarily the C 1000. Couldn’t do. And you have to remember at that point in time, though those units were costing about between 25 and $30,000. Then, you know, back in 1976, that was a lot of money and and but Dartmouth stood up and they purchased it for me. And then we were underway. We were doing ABR research in in the clinic, long before most people were even thinking about it. Wow.

Bob Traynor 24:27
I think this was the beginning of the split brain research that you were doing with some other colleagues.

Frank Musiek 24:34
Yeah, that was another big step. Two things happened there that I thought kind of interesting stories. One is that in the 80s, I think that we were able to do two main things. One, a lot of ABR research on acoustic neuromas, which I’ll get into, but also I luckily became part of the split brain research Group at Dartmouth. And how I got that going was another surprise to me. When I first went there, I went to the neurosurgical people now I was in you know otolaryngology / audiology department at at Dartmouth. But I had an interest of course in the brain. And so my colleague says, Well, you should go to neurology Grand Rounds, you should go to neuro neurosurgery Grand Rounds. So I did. One of the problems was there, neurosurgery Grand Rounds are like at six o’clock in the morning. And in the in the winter, when it was 20. below zero was tough to get out. But I got out and I would go to those neurosurgery Grand Rounds. Well, when I first went there, I went there because I wanted to get referrals for ABR for acoustic tumor research and clinic. That was my main reason for going there. Because I wanted to impress the neurosurgical people that we had a nice tool for detecting acoustic neuromas. And of course, they along with our neuro otologist did the surgery. So that’s what I wanted to do. But as I got in there, everybody was kind of surprised. But I got to know everybody pretty well, the residents, the head of the department there and got to be kind of one of the group. Well, after about a year of that, or even less than than a year. Don Wilson, who was top notch neurosurgeon at that time, had decided to take up the idea of doing split brain surgery for the control of epilepsy, and people that had intractable epilepsy. And this had been done before out in California, by Joe Bogan and his group, but they had dropped the surgery because of side effects. And it just didn’t seem to be that reasonable. However, back in California, Michael Gazzaniga, who was an ex Dartmouth grad, had published some dramatic papers on these early split brain patients. Well, Gazzaniga left, Roger Sperry, who later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his work on split brain, left Sperry and went on his own at Cornell Medical School in New York. So he came back East. And when Dartmouth decided to start, again, to read look at these people with intractable epilepsy for control of one hemisphere, transferring the epileptic seizures to the other side in order to stop that they thought that split brain surgery would be ideal to do that. And Don Wilson decided with a new technique using more micro surgery, that he could do more precise surgical sectioning of the corpus callosum, and wanted to retry doing this procedure again. Well, when Gazzaniga heard about this, he contacted his old alma mater and said, I’d like to be part of that research. Because you need a research team, you can be doing this highly experimental procedure sectioning the brain without research. And everybody agreed. And they said, Okay, well, we’re going to kind of put Mike Gazzaniga in charge of the research. For the split brain patients, well, this was all going on. I kind of heard a little bit about it, but I really wasn’t, wasn’t involved at all with this. I was going on and going to my meetings and trying to get the clinic going and all that. Well, I as I understand it, and this is strictly hearsay, okay. But as I understand it, gives an ago came up and had a major meeting with Don Wilson and the people at Dartmouth, and his group of people down at Cornell. And Gazzaniga get went through the different aspects of people that they were going to try to recruit to be part of this split brain project. And of course, they could recruit practically anybody they wanted to because this was a big deal, and hadn’t been done only once before, twice before. And everybody was excited about it so they could have their pick of people. And of course, it khazana was top notch researcher himself. So I guess at this meeting, that was a major meeting, Gazzaniga was running through the people that he was going to recruit for this research. And he came to vision he came to somatosensory he came to me With the different sensory aspects of research that was to be going to be done, he came to auditory. And as I understand it again, this may be hearsay, he said, Well, I’d like so and so to come up and do the auditory work on these people. And Don Wilson supposedly stepped up and say, we already have an auditory person. He’s part of our group here that comes to our grand rounds. And it’s Frank Musiek. And of course Gazzaniga said, “Who the hell is Frank Musiek?” because nobody knew who I was. And, and Don Wilson went on to this tirade about how he was a dedicated person, and that that I was the one that was going to do the auditory and that was the end of the story. And of course, when the neurosurgeons say that they listen. And so in a couple of days, all of a sudden, I was contacted and said, Frank, you’re part of the split brain research team. And again, I was flabbergasted, said, jeez, oh, man, really. And so then we went on and started to do the split brain research. And, you know, we made some major findings there about the big left ear deficits. In dichotic. Listening, we confirm those, we showed how split brain people could not do pattern perception very well. But yet, were unaffected on a number of other kinds of procedures. So we made some some giant strides there in terms of the audiology of the corpus callosum and inter hemispheric interactions, that led

Bob Traynor 31:31
to the digits testing and some of those assessments that you’re certainly well recognized for.

Frank Musiek 31:37
Yeah, it was the reason we developed dichotic digits because of the fact that dichotic listening was one of the key procedures that showed deficits on these people big left your deficits because you couldn’t, couldn’t transfer the information in the right hemisphere, to the left hemisphere for for linguistic labeling. And then what showed up was scores like zero. You didn’t need a chi square to figure this out. I know when I ran the first foot brain subject, I just couldn’t believe it because I thought the earphone had been become disconnected or whatever, because they had perfectly normal audiogram is great speech recognition. But as soon as you went to dichotic, listening, the left ear scores were essentially zero or a chance, which was really quite amazing to us. And then we found they could hum the pattern, but they couldn’t tell us what it was. And then we learn more about how pattern perception which required interaction between the two hemispheres to decode the pattern for verbal report was also markedly affected. And so those were our two major findings, but they were major and really put us on the map. In terms of research. Yes. And another project

Bob Traynor 32:54
that really put you on the map was the acoustic neuroma research with Mike Glasscock. Now, how did that come about?

Frank Musiek 33:04
Yeah, you bring out an interesting point. And and probably another story because having spent a lot of money on the ABR unit. Dartmouth people wanted me to do something with it. And of course, one of the main things at that point in time is you know, very well Bob was that, you know, acoustic neuroma detection was a big deal. We had CAT scans and the beginning of an MRI but it was still it was still ABR was still a major, major factor. In terms of acoustic neuroma detection. The problem that I had was as good as Dartmouth was, it was a small Medical Center. And we were only seeing maybe 8-10 patients a year for acoustic neuroma, surgery and testing. And so I said, I have to figure out a way that I can see more patients than that. And so at that point in time, I realized that and Forrest Josie, who was Dr. Glascock’s audiologist down in Nashville. That group was was turning out papers right and left about the surgical aspects of acoustic neuromas. So at a meeting, I contacted Forrest Josie, who was very nice, very accomplished audiologists. And I said, Forrest, I said, you know, you guys are seeing a lot of acoustic neuroma patients down there, but you’re not really publishing a lot on the audiology on it. She said, Well, I’m not really a research audiologist and I went on and talked with her and I said, Do you think there’s any way I could become part of that team and actually be able to work with you in terms of seeing more of Dr. Glascock’s acoustic neuroma patients? And she said, I don’t know. But the thing that struck me was, I said well Forrest about how many acoustic neuromas does Mike do in a week, and she says, Well, usually about three, but sometimes as many as four, and I said, You mean a month? She said no, a week. And I said, This is unbelievable. And Mike was highly accomplished. And of course, trained by the House group, and had a sterling reputation for his great surgical skill. So he was attracting a lot of patients. And so I said, What can I do to maybe get in able to test some of these people? She says, you’d have to talk to Mike Glascock. So she made an appointment. I went in to see Mike who I hadn’t known I knew of him. But I didn’t I had never met him, went into his office, I sat down and he says, Well, he says, What do you want to do with my acoustic neuroma patients and I explained it in about 10 minutes, how that we could get a lot of publications that were a lot of ABR majors that we didn’t know a lot about yet that we could find out about and that it would lead to publications both for Dartmouth and for the otology group down there. In Nashville. Forrest, Josie, the audiologist is highly supportive. After I got through with my little spiel, no graphs, nothing like that. Just talking to my Glascock. He looked at me for about what seemed like in eternity, he he had these steely eyes and he looked right at me and studied me without saying a word, or a single like an eternity. And he finally said, Okay, let’s do it. And he got up and left. And then I connected with forest, Josie and forest and I started seeing these patients forrest did most of the testing, and I did most of the analysis in writing. And in our first paper we actually published on 61, acoustic neuroma patients and ABR findings. So that was another big, big breakthrough for us.

Bob Traynor 37:12
That was one of the classics of the articles that were out at that time describing how we should look for various parameters and various principles within the diagnosis of acoustic neuromas. Well, that project and a few others, developed into a huge publication record at Dartmouth. I think it was 112 publications, like four and a half publications per year. During the time you were there was a very substantial production, and a huge contribution to not only audiology, but other disciplines within the neural physiology neuroanatomy area. Much of these publications, I think led to the Montreal Neurological Institute, things that you were doing at that time.

Frank Musiek 38:10
Yeah, well, Bob, that was a big thing to me. And maybe to some people, it wouldn’t seem that way. But to me, it was, it was kind of a big deal. Because this is at the time when we were doing our split brain research. And the Montreal Neurological Institute is, as you may know, and other others know is one of the top neurological entities, both academically and clinically in the world, often ranked number one or two in the world for that particular kind of thing. And, and every year or every two years, they have a major symposium where they invite the top people, you know, in the world they are and of course everybody goes. And this year, they were they actually invited three Nobel Prize winners, they invited Roger Sperry, who I don’t think actually, he may not have gone there. I can’t recall, Hugo from Harvard and weasel from Harvard, who had just won the Nobel Prize for their work on vision and ablation of occipital lobe, and how it affected kittens and their development of the visual cortex. And so when I got an invitation and knew that those guys were going to be there, I was just flabbergasted and, and was very, very pleased to be able to be part of that group that actually went in for that symposium. And I often reflect back on that as really a real advantage in that I had an opportunity to do that. And some people would say, Well, so what what’s the big deal? Well, you know, to be on To do this with other Nobel Prize winners is always an amazing thing. And I was again, very lucky, very lucky.

Bob Traynor 40:08
There are very few of us, particularly in audiology that will ever share the podium with Nobel Prize winners, what a great contribution to the profession to have done that, as well as to be involved for you at that particular level. That had to be quite an exciting component of a career. At that point, I think you moved on to, to the University of Connecticut.

Frank Musiek 40:36
Yeah, and I left Dartmouth at right around 2000 and one of the reasons that I left was because we had lost our department head the people that I had worked with, for all those years had either retired or had stepped aside and the research that I had been doing along with a clinic, and that seemed to be more of a difficulty than it had been in the past. And because of that, I was really suffering from some burnout, I had been doing a lot of research, running the clinic, seeing patients, we had postdocs, numerous bulk postdocs come in that we helped us tremendously with the research, but nonetheless, was a major task. And so I got a note from and I had received many, many invitations to go other places. But didn’t, my kids were in school, I wanted to keep them there. And so by 2000, my kids were out of school and the University of Connecticut wrote me a letter and said, you know, we’d love to have you come down as our director of Auditory Research and full professor and all that kind of stuff. And it sounded pretty good to me and my wife, Sheila said, you know, I think we need a change of pace. And I said, you know, it’d be nice to teach, actually, graduate students in in audiology, and so I took the position at UConn, which I’m very glad I did. I think the timing was really good for me, Bob as, as it was a change of pace and allowed me to cultivate doctoral students at UConn, work with my old friend Campbell Rest who was a world renowned neuroanatomist, who I’d known for a number of years. And it turned out really, really well there.

Bob Traynor 42:40
And while there, that’s when you receive the Jerger career research in audiology award, offered by the American Academy of Audiology as well as the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s honors of the association. And this was in the areas of audiology and neuro audiology. And these are areas of expertise where many of us still have a bit of a mystery, but you have begun to solve some of that mystery for us significantly. You were a UConn for a number of years, until 2014, when you retired from from the UConn position.

Frank Musiek 43:38
Right, well, when I was at UConn, actually one of the interesting things was when I was at Dartmouth, I had hired Jennifer Shin, as one of the audiologist at at Dartmouth. And when I left Dartmouth to go to UConn, Jen Shin decided to go for her PhD at UConn. And so she went with me and I knew she was a top notch student. So we had already started to cultivate a Ph. D program there that became, you know, quite busy. I think we turned out eight or nine PhD students while I was there, and Jen was one of the first ones along with Pete Shifely, who actually was a and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this was a 50 year old PhD candidate in animal science, who came over to me and he had a background in in the Navy, and was a seal and he had done a lot of work with training animals, dogs, beluga whales, all kinds of things he had done a background in and was actually doing A PhD in animal science, but became interested in beluga whales and how they hear. And so he actually came over to the Speech and Hearing Center when I was at UConn. And he came in the dorm Pete’s a very imposing guy’s a great, great big guy. Very imposing, not wonderful person, nice person, but very imposing when you first see him. I happen to be in the hallway as he came in the door. And I was the first person he saw in his it, sir. He says, can you tell me where I can find this Frank Musiek guy? And I said, Well, who wants to know? And he said, Well, I do. He said, I want to know, I haven’t questions for him. And I said, Well, I’m Frank Musiek. And he shook my hand. And we got talking. And he said, I work up at the St. Lawrence Seaway. And he says, We have I’ve noticed up there in that my study of beluga whales, so when the major ships come in, with their motors running, that the beluga whales who are in schools start raising their they talk to each other, and they raise their voices quite dramatically. And when the ships go out, they keep talking, but their voices go down. And he says, That was a fascinating thing to me. And I wanted to know why that is. And I said, Gee, that’s the Lombard effect. And he said, what I said, it sounds like it’s a Lombard effect, that you raise your voice, when there’s competing noises. And that when he signed, that’s when he signed up to be one of my PhD students. And so, Jen Shin and Pete were my two first students, and we had several outstanding ones after that.

Bob Traynor 46:59
With all your activity and research, you were quite active in the American auditory society. And as a as a major in that group, and someone that that was an officer and very responsible for many of the programs and so on. But they always met in Arizona. Now, did that lead to your movement to the University of Arizona?

Frank Musiek 47:24
Right. And, actually, those things happened simultaneously. I think just before I left, UConn, was around to 14, actually retired as emeritus from from UConn there. And, of course, Wayne Staab and I were stalwarts on the AAS meetings for many years. And Wayne had started this whole thing that we know now as you know, audiology matters, audiology and technology matters. Hearing Health & Technology Matters.

Bob Traynor 48:03
Having one of the partners did that with Wade. You know, and and had watched his career for many years as well. It was it was really an interesting kind of a concept. And some of us, some of us would, they said, blog, we said, What’s that? You know, and we really learned was, that’s for sure. So sorry to interrupt you there, it was a good story. Yeah.

Frank Musiek 48:30
And so Wayne got me interested in that. And HHTM, as it came to be known in terms of just writing relatively what we call, you know, short five minute reads on different things related to hearing science and some of the more how shall we say unknown areas of audiology, and that’s how pathways kind of got connected to HHTM. And we continue to do that. We continue to write these monthly short articles on various aspects of Audiology. And so I got that started just before, just before I went to the University of Arizona. And I wasn’t really planning on it that much, but at one of the AAS meetings, as I was about to retire from UConn, I ran into Barbara Cone, and there’s a group of us standing outside the meeting rooms, as you know, we all do to compute you know how that goes. And, and so I was talking and someone was saying, Well, Frank, I hear you’re leaving a UConn retiring from UConn? I said, Yeah. And he said, Well, what are you going to do next? I said, Well, I don’t know. I’ve got some leads. I might do some part time work down at the University of Florida, which I did have. My mother in law lived down there and my wife she was interested in going down there. And I know that they They were interested in me coming there to do some teaching. And then I said, Well, I’d like to do some teaching someplace at least do I don’t want to retire entirely. Barbara Cone was standing next to me. And she said, Well, Frank, what about Arizona if you thought about coming to Arizona? And I said, we hadn’t really, but maybe we should? And she said, Well, if you do, come here, we have a job for you. And I kind of said, well, you know, I’d like to do some teaching, if that’s a possibility. And she said, Oh, that’s a possibility. Well, of course, you don’t think anything of those things. Because that happens all the time at these meetings. People say, Oh, yeah, come and join us. You know, we have a great time there. We can do this. And we can do that and all that. Well, about 10 days later, I got a letter from the department head saying, we hear that you might be interested in moving to Arizona. And if you do, we would really like to have you entertained. Coming to join our faculty, we’ll make a long story short. That worked out really well. It was kind of a little bit of easing up on my activities. But I think it fit well for them. And it said well for me so that I didn’t have to retire entirely, which I didn’t want to do. And I think it filled that kind of a void for them. And I’m still there retired, actually, last year. But still, I’m doing some some work under special provision this year at the University of Arizona. And it’s been an interesting time there. We’ve had known some really great doctoral students that came through the lab there. And we really had an interesting time. there because I had a doctoral student that came with me from UConn, Barrett, St. George, who, when we got there, wanted to do anatomy, work, neuroanatomy work. And at that point in time, I did not think it was going to be feasible for me to start a wet lab, brain dissection, part of that. But we were able to connect with Oasis, which is a major MRI online program, that Barrett and some other people in the in the lab were very well versed in. And it allowed us to actually do tremendous amount of MRI anatomy, which Barrett kind of headed up for us. And all the doctoral students had been involved in one way or the other. And so we were able to do quite a few publications on hardcore neuroanatomy of the auditory cortex, while at the University of Arizona using the Oasis program and looking at MRIs rather than, you know, cadaver brains, such as we did at our previous places. So that worked out pretty well. And and we have continued to do that kind of work. That I think all the students kind of appreciate the neuroanatomy. And we really delved into it, but it was really the work through Barrett that was able to do these programs, which are really very complex, in terms of looking at MRIs that I could have never done because I’m just not computer savvy, like Barrett was in terms of pulling this together, but it allowed us to do some very interesting work on auditory cortex and the Sylvian perisylvian areas of the anatomy using this MRI, these MRI techniques.

Bob Traynor 53:56
I recall from our discussions that you received the Royal Arch Gold Medal Award for research in central auditory processing, from the Royal arch masons in 2020. But I know there was a kind of an interesting process for you to obtain that award and get funding for your project.

Frank Musiek 54:18
Yeah, Bob, that’s That’s true. That was quite interesting, because, you know, we’re all so used to NIH protocols. Well for this, which was kind of a career type of research award that the royal arch people sponsored with an interest in central the way they did it was they put together a committee that selected 15 people from throughout the United States that they would consider for the award. They contacted them and did a telephone interview, which with each of them and then After that telephone interview they invited for to New York to make a presentation. And at that point in time, they were going to decide along with some other information you had to provide, who was going to get the award? Well, luckily, I made it to the top four. And so I had to go to New York to make a presentation. And what was interesting about the presentation, was the fact that they wanted us to come in and explain to the group of people that were there, which I this is about 15 people that were there. And some of them were scientists. Some of them were businessmen, but they certainly were not all audiologists, if you know what I’m saying. And they said, your task is to make us all understand what your research is. And the other thing is that we are not going to permit you to use any slides, you have to talk to us directly. And explain verbally, with no slides, what your research is about and why we should fund it. Well, that was a, that was a little bit of a shocker to me, because I hadn’t done anything without slides and years. And, but probably more to the other three people. Because I was able to win the award. And they funded me and really were a major, major help to a lot of our central auditory work that we done.

Bob Traynor 56:38
A talk explaining difficult concepts without slides is really not an easy task. And you want you’ve been involved in some international work as well. And my understanding is what what’s your work has been in in Europe and South America?

Frank Musiek 56:56
Yeah, I think there were three places where we’ve had some international input. One is in London, Doris ban mu, who was one of my I was on her doctoral committee. She was an MD PhD, you know, in England. Before you can be practice audiology, you have to have an MD and she had an MD and also got a PhD, you know, in auditory science, and has one of the few totally acclaimed neuro audiology curriculums in the world. And she’s she is one of the top notch people in neuro audiology in the world, if not the best right now. Doris is a fantastic researcher and clinician, I should say. And so we were lucky to have input in London to help establish some central auditory programs. They’re both clinically and academically. SanPaolo University sent as Dr. Soshot Eliana Soshot who was a postdoc with me at Dartmouth, and she, and I still as wells with Doris. We just had a paper published a month ago with the two of us and on backward masking, and its clinical possible clinical protocols. And so Eliana was has invited me down there many times. And, and we have worked together for many years. And then also, Dr. Skarsinsky, in Warsaw, Poland, who we’ve done a lot of work with, he’s invited us over there many times to explain about some of our work. And I’d like to believe that I’ve had some input to the development of one of their really strong programs and audiology over there in Warsaw. So those were the three places that I think have probably my most input in terms of unit international interaction, which has really been great. And again, luckily working with really great people.

Bob Traynor 59:09
International work is fascinating, and we all learn from each other, as well as we have an opportunity to contribute to the development of the profession, in other areas of the world where it didn’t exist previously. One place where we all sometimes fall short, is those that knew us when we were young. I mean, real young, like teenagers and so on. But I understand that you’ve made it all the way to the wall of achievement at Union City High School in Union City, Pennsylvania.

Frank Musiek 59:43
Yeah, that was a nice award and you know, everyone likes to be recognized by their high school that they went through and and certainly the wall achievement is something that they develop there over the past Oh, 20 or 30 years, I guess, and I luckily was was nominated for that, in the areas of medicine and education. Interestingly, most of my colleagues that I graduated with, when I went back to one of the reunions we had I don’t know when it was 25 years ago or so. Their their first question to me was, Frank, are you still playing football remembered me as being primarily a football player and and little else, although I was a good student, that was what a lot of them recognized me as. But over the years, some of them had realized that I’ve done a little bit more than that.

Bob Traynor 1:00:40
It’s been my pleasure to get to know you over the last few weeks as we put together the segment here for giants in audiology. On behalf of myself and your colleagues, I want to thank you for sharing your career with us a career that has taught us so much about so many things within our profession. Thanks so much for being with us today. We appreciate your expertise and all the contributions to the to audiology as a profession, and your enlightenment on an issue that I think you picked up, at least you’d mentioned this before, that you picked up at Case Western Reserve as a doctoral student, in that we hear with our brain, not necessarily with our ears.

Frank Musiek 1:01:30
Well, thanks very much, Bob. I appreciate that. And you’re right we do hear with our brains and not our ears. But this has been great. I really appreciate it. It’s been my pleasure. And I hope you have a good new year and I look forward to talking to you more sometimes. Again, thanks. Thanks a lot.

Bob Traynor 1:01:49
Be with us next time for Giants in Audiology, where we talk about a significant professional’s career through the field of audiology and how they got to prominence within the profession.

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About the Panel

Frank Musiek - Editor, Pathways, CAPD & NeuroaudiologyFrank Musiek, PhD, is a renowned hearing researcher, scholar, teacher and clinical audiologist. His research on electrophysiology and central auditory processing has led to the discovery and implementation of numerous tools that are widely used for assessment of the auditory brainstem and central auditory pathways. His research career has contributed in a substantial way to our fundamental understanding of the anatomy, physiology and neurophysiology of the human auditory system. In addition to his immense contributions to clinical science and practice, Dr. Musiek has demonstrated an untiring dedication to educating students, from undergraduates to postdoctoral research associates and medical students. Dr. Musiek has published over 140 refereed articles and presented more than 220 invited lectures and seminars and nearly 300 papers at national and international conferences, research symposia and other venues around the world. He has developed four clinical audiologic tests, three of which are mainstays of the clinical central auditory test battery. He has published nine books and authored no fewer than 35 book chapters. His keen research and insight into the areas of central auditory processing and dysfunction, anatomy and physiology of the auditory system and hearing assessment and diagnosis have earned him a national and international reputation as an authority on the human auditory system and hearing.

Bob Traynor - Co-Host, This Week in HearingRobert M. Traynor, Ed.D., is a hearing industry consultant, trainer, professor, conference speaker, practice manager and author.  He has decades of experience teaching courses and training clinicians within the field of audiology with specific emphasis in hearing and tinnitus rehabilitation. He serves as Adjunct Faculty in Audiology at the University of Florida, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado and The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.



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