U of M leading hearing loss studies, but funding is in short supply

Updated: May 03, 2020 06:18 PM
Created: May 03, 2020 01:16 PM

As many as 50 million Americans are living with hearing loss, and some don’t even realize it. The month of May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders.


The University of Minnesota is world-renowned for its research on the human ear. Its Otopathology Lab has one of the world’s largest collection of temporal bones, allowing it to research multiple diseases that impact hearing and balance.

One of its leaders and pioneers in the industry, Dr. Michael Paparella, says despite so much important work that's been done and in progress, the industry is underfunded.

“This is a serious and very common problem in society that, in my opinion, is very under-looked,” Paparella told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

To help thanks to some positive pressure from colleagues and former students, he’s written a memoir about his multi-decade journey. It’s called "Just Another Immigrant’s Son," and all proceeds are going to fund the U of M’s research on this issue.

“In fact, our laboratory at the U of M has come up with [and studied] new diseases that have literally helped thousands of patients,” Paparella added.

While a lot of work has been done and a lot of work lies ahead, new challenges may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Sebahattin Cureoglu, the co-director of the Otopathology Lab says there is still much to learn about the disease’s effects on the ear.

“We have no idea what is happening in the inner ear and the nerve itself, so therefore we need to do a lot of research in humans,” Cureoglu said.

Both doctors say donations of your temporal bone is how the lab can continue this work. But during May, a focus should be on getting checked out by a doctor if you believe you are experiencing hearing loss.

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