Southern Illinois University Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Brandon Cox has been awarded a three-year grant from the Department of Defense to further her research into repairing hearing loss.
Generally speaking, hearing loss occurs when certain cells in the inner ear die. Cox's research recently showed that these "hair cells" in the inner ears of newborn mice could repair themselves, leading to hope that study of that mechanism could help researchers understand how we might replicate the process in humans. Scientists had previously identified the same ability in frogs, birds and fish.
Cox's work is of interest to the military because of the high prevalence of ringing in the ears and hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss is also the third-most common health problem nationally.
Cox's $1.5 million project will focus on which genes and proteins contribute to hair cell regeneration, with a goal of developing treatment-based solutions for hearing loss that go beyond the current capabilities of hearing aids and cochlear implants.
The grant is Cox's third national grant for hearing research.