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doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000403513.82250.83
Departments: Over the Wire

Over the Wire reports the latest developments in the hearing healthcare profession, including the activities of state and national professional associations and other nonprofit organizations. Please submit all information to

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William F. Austin, Founder and CEO of Starkey and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, was among 18 Americans to receive a 2011 Jefferson Award, the nation's highest honor for public service.

Austin was honored with the Outstanding Service by an Entrepreneur award for his decades of work bringing hearing to those in need.

Figure. Bi

Figure. Bi

“With Albert Schweitzer as my boyhood role model, it has always been my mission to help improve the lives of others in a truly meaningful way,” said Austin. “The Starkey Hearing Foundation's mission is to bring the gift of hearing to those in need so that they may be able to realize their full potential. To that end, we do all that we can to help make a difference in a person's quality of life by opening them up to a new world of sound that allows them to feel more connected to their family, their community, and to the world at large.”

The 39th annual Jefferson Awards, dubbed the Noble Prize for public service, were presented in ceremonies over two days at a gala in Washington, DC. Other honorees included actress Marlo Thomas, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry M. Reinsdorf, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and former Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn.

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The Hearing Loss Association of America presented its top awards at its 26th annual convention in Washington, DC.

James F. Battey, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health, received the 2011Dr. James B. Snow Jr. Award in recognition of advancing scientific research on communication disorders which resulted in new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat those conditions.

Michael J. Copps, PhD, Comissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, also received the President's Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his work as Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Since joining the FCC in 2001, Copps has encouraged competition among businesses to provide greater access for people with disabilities. The association said under his leadership those with hearing loss have gained unprecedented access to multiple communications media that have affected all aspects of their daily lives.

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A team of researchers at Wayne State University was awarded $330,000 from the National Science Foundation to create a 3-D neural probe that could lead to development of an implantable device to suppress tinnitus.

The technology will enable the integration of micro-channels for neurotransmitter-based chemical stimulation and local delivery of various drugs for biocompatibility improvement. Researchers said the next generation 3-D neural probes could be used to stimulate neurons electrically and chemically with greater efficacy and to monitor neural activity from deeper regions of the brain.

“These important features will help us become the leader in the new round of worldwide races to develop the next generation neural probes,” said Yong Xu, PhD, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The successful development of the implantable device will be useful for treating a variety of neurological disorders, such as refractory paralysis, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, blindness, and tinnitus.”

Recent clinical studies have shown that stimulation of the auditory cortex through direct electrical stimulation has longer-lasting suppressive effects, said Jinsheng Zhang, PhD, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“Once we better understand the mechanisms underlying electrical and chemical stimulation-induced suppression, we will be fully focused on advancing the engineering fabrication to create a minimally or even noninvasive medical device for diagnosis and treatment.”

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The UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders received more than $200,000 from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to fund two programs to provide pediatric hearing aid services and speech and language treatment for children with cochlear implants.

The grant includes more than $100,000 to help pay for evaluations, post-surgical audiology services, and speech--language therapy sessions for children with cochlear implants. About $100,000 was allocated for pediatric hearing aid evaluations, hearing aids, and follow-up services.

The grants will be used to offset discounted service costs for children with limited resources. The center expects to provide services for about 400 children with cochlear implants and 500 children with hearing aids during the funding period. Callier was among 78 nonprofit organizations that the United Way funded under a new competitive grant process that focuses on improving education, income, and health in the Dallas area.

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Phonak will be hosting its fourth European conference, “A Sound Foundation through Early Amplification,” November 14-15 in Istanbul, Turkey.

A panel of 17 internationally recognized experts will present their latest research and clinical experiences during the two-day event, with Anu Sharma, PhD, Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, giving the keynote address. Sessions will cover pediatric identification and assessment, current developments in amplification, family support, and auditory neuropathy, optimal amplification, and outcome assessment.

“We intentionally chose Istanbul to encourage countries of the Middle East to participate in the event,” said Ora Buerkli, Vice President of Product Marketing. “Phonak wants to keep up the tradition to examine the challenges and solutions around improving outcomes for children with hearing loss around the world.” To register for the conference, visit



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The National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research will hold its 5th International Conference October 12-14 in Portland, OR. The conference, “Expanding our Horizons: Medical Conditions and Audiology,” will commence with a keynote address on the epidemiology of hearing loss and tinnitus from Karen Cruickshanks, PhD, Vice Chair of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Other presentations will cover hormones and hearing; management of hereditary hearing loss; auditory dysfunction in multiple sclerosis; mechanisms and management of autoimmune inner ear disease; hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction associated with drug abuse; effects of strokes on auditory processing; auditory dysfunction associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease; and auditory hallucinations and communication. For details, visit or contact

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