The 9 million people in the UK with significant hearing loss have a greater hope of improving their condition with the announcement of a major NIHR award for a Nottingham Hearing & Deafness Biomedical Research Unit. The unit, based at Ropewalk House, has been rewarded with £6.3 million funding to support leading edge research in hearing through to 2017.
The BRU aims to translate important discoveries from basic auditory science into novel treatments and patient management strategies. Understanding the consequences of hearing loss and tinnitus will ultimately result in patient benefit. Under a new directorship, the unit will create effective collaborations and develop the next generation of audiology researchers.
The MRC Institute of Hearing Research, also based in Nottingham, is a joint partner in the Unit. The five primary research areas for the BRU are Tinnitus etiology and management, Habilitation for hearing loss, Sensorineural plasticity and rehabilitation, Cochlear implantation, and Paediatric ENT/Audiology. These are underpinned by methodology-based research such as large-scale studies and advanced imaging. Patient involvement and technology-based tools are at the core of the five year translational strategy.
Peter Homa, Chief Executive of NUH, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this funding – it’s a significant endorsement of the strength of the research and the quality of expertise we share between Nottingham University Hospitals and the University of Nottingham.”
Brian Thomson, Director of Research and Innovation at NUH, said: “Hearing loss affects a substantial proportion of our population profoundly. The Biomedical Research Unit will provide an excellent platform for partnerships with the vibrant medical devices and charities sectors in Nottingham and nationally. The fruit of these collaborations will provide hearing loss sufferers with access to innovative technologies and networking opportunities.”
Maria Koufali, Deputy Director of Research and Innovation at NUH, added: “Nottingham is unique because it hosts the MRC Institute of Hearing, the Ear Foundation and the largest cochlear implant programme in the country. The BRU award will enable us to bring these partners together and work towards establishing Nottingham as a centre of international excellence in auditory research.”
Announcing the funding, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “This investment will see scientists in Nottingham contribute to the UK-wide development of exciting new science into tangible, effective treatments that can be used across the NHS. This record investment, part of our essential modernisation plans, will secure the NHS as a world leader in translational research, as well as helping to ensure we give patients the very best treatment possible.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “The National Institute for Health Research centres and units announced today have been selected because of the world class quality of their translational research. By focussing on translational research across a wide range of diseases, the centres and units will help pull new scientific discoveries into benefits for NHS patients. I believe they will make a significant impact on the health of the population.”