LOS ANGELES, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- House Ear Institute Board of Trustees announced today the nonprofit has changed its name to House Research Institute. The change to Research in the name more accurately reflects the institute's expanded research mission.
"Although our focus is still the ear, we are finding more and more that hearing dysfunction often goes beyond the ear," said James Boswell, chief executive officer of House Research Institute. "While we remain at the cutting-edge with regard to development of hearing prosthetics like the cochlear implant and the auditory brainstem implant, some of our most innovative science is in the areas of genetics, regeneration, prescription drug-induced hearing loss, neural tumors, and autism."
In the last several years, research has expanded beyond the institute's traditional study focus where hearing loss is the primary diagnosis. For example, medications to treat HIV/AIDS, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis and cancer can be ototoxic sometimes damaging the sensorineural hair cells in the inner ear resulting in permanent hearing loss or even deafness to the patient.
"The name change removes limitations that researchers often encounter when applying for grants and opens opportunities for development staff to approach an expanded donor base," said Daniel Graham, executive vice president of development at House Research Institute.
One example is the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation that recently renewed funding for a research project with significant implications for people who are HIV positive or have AIDS. The project seeks to identify a possible therapeutic treatment that could protect a patient's sensorineural hair cells from the ototoxic side effects of the antiretroviral medications.
Another example is the Bruce Ford Bundy and Anne Smith Bundy Foundation that is funding an institute research project to study a gene associated with autism that may play a role in causing deafness. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 110 children in the United States has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). When compared to the general population, a diagnosis of ASD doubles for children with hearing loss.
While these two projects are representative of how our research is expanding to related areas, the primary focus of the institute's research remains hearing and related disorders.
"A significant development in the research department at the institute is the creation of three centers to advance the institute's hearing and auditory research," said Neil Segil, Ph.D., executive vice president of research at House Research Institute. "The centers are dedicated to taking the basic science research and finding clinical treatments for patients who currently have no options or very limited treatment options."
The Koch Center for Hearing Restoration, The Center for Neural Tumor Research and The Center for Sensory Regeneration will all focus on those objectives.
Researchers in the Koch Center will develop new and improved methods of hearing restoration through the use of prosthetic hearing devices including the cochlear implant and the auditory brainstem implant (ABI). New research projects will focus on patients with single-sided deafness, tinnitus as well as non-NF2 pediatric patients.
The Center for Neural Tumor Research will have as its primary focus Neurofibromatosis Type-II (NF2), which causes benign tumors in the central nervous system. The discovery that mutations in the gene responsible for NF2 are associated with different kinds of cancers, dramatically expands the possible impact of research performed at the institute. The institute is working with the House Clinic to establish a biospecimen bank of NF2 tissue samples to provide vital resources to scientists around the world, and has initiated the first FDA-approved drug trial for the treatment of NF2.
Millions of people have hearing and balance deficits that are caused by the loss of the sensory hair cells in the inner ear. The Center for Sensory Regeneration plans an interdisciplinary approach to the challenges of hair cell regeneration that includes expansion into stem cell biology, epigenetics, bioinformatics, developmental biology, systems biology and regeneration neuroscience. Through HRI's long-standing affiliation with the University of Southern California, the Center will partner with the new Broad/CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine, as well as the Clinical Research Core at the House Research Institute, and the joint House Research Institute/USC Hearing and Communication Neuroscience Training Program.
For more information on the House Research Institute, please visit: http://www.houseresearchinstitute.org/.
About the House Research Institute
The House Research Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with hearing loss and related disorders through scientific research, patient care, and the sharing of knowledge. Institute scientists research the auditory system, at the level of function, as well as at the cellular, molecular and genetic levels. We also explore the neurological interactions between the auditory system and brain, and study ways to improve auditory implants, diagnostics, clinical treatments and intervention methods. We share our knowledge with the scientific and medical communities as well as the general public through our education and outreach programs. For more information about the House Research Institute, please call (800) 388-8612 or (213) 483-4431, E-mail [email protected] or visit www.houseresearchinstitute.org.
SOURCE House Research Institute