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Invested in a Cure

Anonymous gift exceeding $20 million transformative for Mass. Eye and Ear, patients

It’s an exciting time in research on hearing loss, and — thanks to an anonymous donor —scientists and physicians at Mass. Eye and Ear, on the cusp of major breakthroughs, just received news that will undoubtedly propel their discoveries forward into new clinical therapies.

In a record-breaking philanthropic investment, Mass. Eye and Ear has received an anonymous gift of more than $20 million. This extraordinary gift—the largest in our hospital’s nearly 200-year history—will provide long-term sustained research support in the areas of hearing and balance, invest in our world-leading faculty and enable us to recruit the brightest minds in hearing science.

This gift will have a far-reaching impact, bringing hope and healing not only to patients at Mass. Eye and Ear, but also to those suffering from deafness and hearing impairments around the world.

Solving a pervasive problem

Hearing loss is a serious public health problem affecting more than one-third of the world’s population over age 65. In addition to the hardship of losing one of the body’s basic modes of perception, hearing loss can lead to increased stress, fatigue and feelings of isolation, seriously impacting a person’s social and professional life.

Common hearing impairments such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hyperacusis (painful hearing sensitivity) can also significantly diminish overall health and quality of life.

While currently available therapies for hearing loss, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, do offer relief to patients, they fall short of achieving our ultimate goal: restoring the body’s natural ability to hear. Mass. Eye and Ear, as the world’s leading hearing research and patient care enterprise, is uniquely positioned to deliver on this goal.

With our investigators on the precipice of breakthroughs in hearing research that have been years in the making, this exceptional gift could not be coming at a better time.

A proven track record of success

Since 1958, Mass. Eye and Ear’s Eaton-Peabody Laboratories (EPL), a multidisciplinary group of more than 25 investigators dedicated to the study of hearing and deafness, have led the field in basic and translational research aimed at uncovering the mechanisms underlying hearing and hearing loss.

Scientists in EPL were the first to discover that stem cells found in the inner ear could be converted into sensory cells needed for hearing, and they were also the first to restore hearing in mammals using this technique.

This track record of success continues today. Our scientists are closing in on new gene therapy approaches to curing inherited forms of deafness and balance impairment. We also identified, for the first time, a condition known as “hidden hearing loss” that has been linked to difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments and could potentially be prevented or reversed with improved diagnosis.

Albert Edge, Ph.D. (center), Director of the Tillotson Cell Biology Unit at Mass. Eye and Ear, led research that restored hearing to mammals for the first time in 2013.

A return on investment for patients

The value of restoring natural hearing to one person is incalculable. Bestowing this life-changing event on millions of patients worldwide and protecting future generations from deafness and hearing impairment is, in a word, priceless.

Given this gift’s unprecedented nature, the full extent of its significance has yet to be realized. But one thing is for sure—it has the potential to transform lives in a way that’s never before been possible.

7 thoughts on “Invested in a Cure”

  1. I read with great interest Mass Eye & Ear’s announcement in April, 2018 that Dr. Konstantina Stankovic’s was hoping to launch a Phase II Clinical Trial to determine the efficacy of the FDA approved drug milepristone as a treatment to stop the growth of vestibular schawannomas.

    I can find no information on the status of this hopeful treatment. Can you please update as to the status of the the clinical trial, and if successful, an estimate of time to have the drug FDA approved for use off label.

    Thank you.

  2. Gayla Zukevich Stulce

    December 2017 woke up to a bomb going off in my left ear! (sudden sensorineural hearing loss and extreme tinnitus) Do you take patients at the Lauer Research Center or do you have a recommendation of a Dr who has a special interest in patients with tinnitus at MAss Eye & Ear?

  3. Hello. A teenager is suffering from pain with what appears to be hyperacusis. Occasional tenitis. Have you discovered any cure or treatment? Hope you are all ok …many thanks.

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