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.
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.