The otolaryngology treatments of tomorrow are the research of today, but somebody has to pay for it.
Explore this issue:September 2011
That’s where the grant programs of the Triological Society come in. The society, which has awarded more than $2.5 million in grants since 1994, promotes research into the causes and treatments of ear, nose and throat diseases via two funding streams: the Career Development Award, which provides up to $40,000 for research career development support over a one or two-year period, and the Clinical Scientist Development Award, which is co-sponsored by the society and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and provides $80,000 per year for up to five years to surgeons already awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08/K23).
Both grants cater to young otolaryngology-head and neck surgeons who can use them as springboards. ENT Today talked to the nine physicians awarded last year’s grants to learn how they used their funding, and, perhaps more importantly, how it has helped their careers.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT AWARDS
Born with a penchant for engineering, Dr. Adunka has focused his research on developing technology that will allow intracochlear electrode implantation with little or no trauma, “so we can combine the natural hearing with the cochlear implant.” The end goal, he said, is to incorporate an “upgrade” into current cochlear implant technology that would allow otolaryngologists to improve electrode placement.
Dr. Adunka and his team began this research in 2006 in humans but reverted to the animal model soon after due to a lack of qualified participants. The project will collect animal data for a few years, “but in parallel we want to move back to a clinical setting to test the true value of this technology,” he said, adding that his team is working on developing a solution with all three manufacturers of cochlear implants (Cochlear Limited in Australia, MED-EL in Austria and Advanced Bionics in the U.S.). Dr. Adunka’s goal is to “modify” existing technology to better record, measure and adjust to residual acoustic hearing.
The Career Development Award revived a near-dead project, Dr. Adunka said candidly. He and a collaborator, who had previously been funded through an NIH grant, lost that backing partly because of the economic downturn of the past few years. “Getting the grant has really helped us to keep this research going,” he said.