AHRF funds eight innovative hearing research studies in 2023

AHRF awards 2023 grants to eight investigators. From the left, top to bottom: Colin Johnson, Nurunisa Akyuz, Lendra Friesen, Parveen Bazard, Kamal Sen, Anoop Jagadeesh, Melissa Ghulam-Smith, and Jordan Varghese.

Elmhurst, Illinois – March 6, 2023 – The American Hearing Research Foundation (AHRF) announced today that it has awarded eight grants to investigators who are exploring hearing and balance disorders.  In total, AHRF awarded nearly $350,000 in grant monies in 2023. Headquartered in the Chicago western suburb of Elmhurst, AHRF has a 67-year history of supporting hearing research at U.S. institutions.

AHRF Board member and Research Chair Donna Whitlon, PhD, notes, “We’re funding highly technical studies – for instance, in biochemistry and genomics – that have a real-world purpose. What we learn from these studies will help improve quality of life for millions of people who have hearing loss – 48 million in the U.S. alone.  At the same time, it matters that we’re supporting investigators early in their careers – so we are helping to build the framework for future transformative research.”


Six investigators secure major funding

AHRF recognized six studies for their innovation and potential contributions to the hearing and balance field. Two of these studies were deemed exceptionally promising, and the investigators received extra funds to expand their work.

Birtman Grant – $75,000. AHRF awarded this prestigious award to University of Connecticut researcher Lendra Friesen, PhD. Friesen is developing a new way to map how nerve signals move from parts of the ear to the brain and vice versa – and how much information is carried along the way. By comparing this information with behavioral measures such as speech comprehension and emotion recognition – and comparing the responses of young participants (18-28 years) to older participants (65-85 years), she hopes to learn where breakdowns in auditory processing occur.

Richard G. Muench Chairman’s Grant – $65,000. Parveen Bazard, PhD, University of South Florida, received AHRF’s newest honorary award, named to honor long-time AHRF Chair and champion Richard Muench.  Barzard is studying a therapy for age-related hearing loss – for which no treatment currently exists. His pre-clinical study (that is, before it is tested on humans) will investigate the potential therapeutic roles of a natural occurring dietary amino acid for treating and preventing ARHL.

Discovery Grants – $50,000 each. AHRF awarded four Discovery Grants this year. One recipient will explore how different areas of the brain work together to help us understand speech in a crowded setting. Another investigator will study music perception, to assess changes that occur in the neural encoding of the different components of music due to hearing loss.  Two investigators will examine the role of different proteins that have been implicated in hearing loss.

Two physicians in training get research projects funded

Bernard & Lottie Drazin Resident Grants. In 2023, two otolaryngology residents received grants of $1,000 each. One will explore hearing loss related to traumatic brain injury, and the other will study sudden hearing loss outcomes. AHRF offers resident grants to encourage individuals who might pursue a career in hearing and balance research.

Complete grant list for 2023 

Click here to read about each researcher and his or her study.

Birtman Grant (up to $75,000). Lendra M. Friesen, PhD, CCC-A; University of Connecticut; Development of information-theoretic approach for the analysis of auditory evoked potentials: quantifying the effects of age, disease, and congenital conditions at the midbrain and cortex.

Richard G. Muench Chairman Grant (up to $65,000). Parveen Bazard, PhD: University of South Florida; Developing Novel Therapeutic Interventions for Age-related Hearing Loss

 AHRF Discovery Grants (up to $50,000)

  • Nurunisa Akyuz, PhD, Harvard Medical School; A Structural Basis for Calcium Regulation of TMC1 Gating
  • Anoop Jagadeesh, PhD, Northwestern University; Neural basis of music perception in individuals with hearing loss
  • Colin P. Johnson, PhD, Oregon State University; Characterization of the deafness-associated hair cell protein otoferlin
  • Kamal Sen, PhD, Boston University; Investigating Auditory Scene Analysis in Humans with Wearable fNIRS and EEG

Bernard & Lottie Drazin Memorial Grants for Otolaryngology Residents ($1,000)

  • Melissa Ghulam-Smith, MD, PhD, University of Miami; Vestibular functional and histological changes in a blast induced-mTBI rat model
  • Jordan Varghese, MD, Washington University in St. Louis; Transtympanic electrocochleography: Characterizing residual cochlear function in sudden sensorineural hearing loss to better predict outcomes

About AHRF

AHRF is a nonprofit organization that has been making new discoveries possible for more than 65 years by funding novel research to better understand and overcome hearing and balance disorders. Since 2010, the organization has funded 111 projects with just over $3 million in research grants.

For more information on AHRF, visit www.American-Hearing.org. Donations for research funding can be made online.

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American Hearing Research Foundation

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Elmhurst, IL - Illinois 60126

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