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Translational Research III

From Bench to Bedside: Approaches for Objective Measures and Treatment of Hearing and Balance Dysfunction
Avril Genene Holt, PhD
Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI

Tinnitus affects more than 50 million Americans annually.  This condition remains the number one most compensated disability benefit for military Veterans.  The hissing and buzzing heard by tinnitus sufferers in the absence of an external sound source can be intermittent or chronic lasting from minutes to days.  For some tinnitus is permanent.  Loud persistent tinnitus is associated with anxiety and depression with suicide ideation. These symptoms result in more missed work days, isolation, and increased clinician visits.  People who work in noisy environments, older adults, musicians, military personnel Veterans, factory workers, etc… are at higher risk for tinnitus.  With advances of sound technology, recreational exposure to loud noise is on the rise, putting even more people at risk for tinnitus.  Symptoms of tinnitus are often addressed with therapy, noise canceling sound generators, and hearing aids.  However, there is currently no cure for noise induced tinnitus.  Impediments to discovering a cure range from a lack of objective measures of tinnitus, no consensus on a standard experimental model or defined underlying mechanisms, and therefore no broadly effective treatments.  Removal of each of these barriers is essential for application to the clinic and substantive progression towards a cure for tinnitus.  

Avril Genene Holt, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Visual, and Anatomical Sciences at Wayne State University and a Health Research Specialist at the John D. Dingell VAMC in Detroit, Michigan.  Dr. Holt’s research program is focused on identifying, assessing, and modulating neuronal excitability in order to reverse maladaptive neuroplasticity observed with hearing and vestibular dysfunction.  She has published numerous articles and co-edited a book Scientific Foundations of Audiology.  Merit awards from the VA, grants from the NIH, and DOD American Tinnitus Association and collaborations with colleagues have funded her research program focused on noise induced tinnitus and vestibular dysfunction.  Dr. Holt was selected to participate in leadership workshops hosted by the AAMC and placed on the Fulbright Specialist roster.  Her service has included chairperson and member of diversity related committees for the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) and the American Auditory Society.  Currently, Dr. Holt serves on the Council for ARO, is a member of the scientific advisory committee for the American Tinnitus Association, serves on grant review panels, and serves as co-director for two NIH R25 funded programs (Mentoring Institute of Neuroscience for Diversity Scholars and Center for Underrepresented Research in Addiction).