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From Molecules to Society

The 2021 Interdisciplinary Team Excellence Enhancement Grant recognizes a group of researchers from across many disciplines and colleges to address the growing need for research to better understand the challenges facing hearing and vision loss within the aging population, and to develop effective, patient-centered treatments to better meet their needs.

Interdisciplinary Research on Hearing and Vision Loss in the Aging Population

Fact: for individuals over 75 in the United States, 50% have disabling hearing loss and 15% have severe vision loss.

Hearing and vision loss have major societal impacts beyond the loss of the sensation including depression, isolation, and loneliness, particularly among women. Currently available treatment and therapies have limitations that do not fully meet the needs of the affected individuals as they navigate through their communities. Historically, research flowed from bench to bedside with treatments being developed by basic researchers without understanding the needs and impacts on their patient populations.

The new research paradigm involves a circular system of information flowing from bench to bedside and back again to tailor research in order to meet the complete needs of patient communities. This teams includes representatives from multiple levels of research and understanding of experiences from the target population. Proposed interdisciplinary interactions will better inform researchers how their work can impact the work of other fields. In this way, researchers can ask more pertinent questions that won’t only be of interest to their own niche, but the hearing and vision loss interdisciplinary field as a whole. The grant is intended to foster new communications and provide initial funding to gather preliminary data and external funding that will yield results in future studies and influence the basic research on these disorders.

Meet the team working to solve what Dr. Montgomery calls a wicked problem:

Image of the Hearing and Vision Loss in the Aging Population: From Molecules to Society Team

RFP: Interdisciplinary Research Award 

Applications are due by 5:00 pm on Friday, October 29. 
Teams of at least two investigators from different departments can apply for up to $10,000 in funding for the purpose of bringing together researchers on this broad topic, funding preliminary data collection, and preparing extramural grant proposals.  The award may be used for research supplies, student stipend, travel, or participant compensation.  It may not be used for faculty salary or tuition.  The application requires a single-spaced project description (up to 3 pages), a budget, and team member CVs.

  • Jeremy Duncan, Biological Sciences

    Dr. Duncan is the lead member of the group.  He brings experience with bench research on hearing disorders and regenerative therapies.  He has an active grant from the National Institutes of Health titled "Determining the Molecular Landscape of Hair Cell Differentiation."

  • Cindy Linn, Biological Sciences

    Dr. Linn is experienced with bench research on visual disorders and regenerative therapies. She has two active grants at the time of this collaboration, "Evidence of BrdU positive neurons in adult mammalian retina after treatment with an alpha7 nAChR agonist" from the National Institutes of Health and "Neurogenesis and recovery of visual function after blast exposure" from the Department of Defense.  


  • Lisa Baker, Psychology

    Dr. L. Baker brings experience with psychological research on neurological disorders and treatments.  She has active contracts with industry. 


  • Jon Baker, Psychology

    Dr. J. Baker has experience with how disorders particularly affect the psychological wellbeing of the elderly.  He has experience contracting with local entities.


  • Robin Criter, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

    Dr. Criter is an experienced clinician and clinical researcher working with deaf and hard of hearing patients.  She advocates for research that is most beneficial to these individuals.  She has pending support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.


  • Janet Hahn, Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Services

    Dr. Hahn brings extensive experience working with the geriatric population and the unique needs of the aging population.  


  • Elyse Connors, Blindness and Low Vision Studies

    Dr. Connors has experience both through clinical efforts to rehabilitate the elderly with vision problems, but also training the future generation of visual therapists.  She has an active grant for "Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Personnel Preparation" from the U.S. Department of Education. 


  • Bill Liou, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Dr. Liou brings an engineering perspective to the group and experience working with fluid dynamics, which is a critical aspect of hearing. He has active funding from the National Science Foundation and CAVIDs Consortium.


Read more about the Interdisciplinary Team Excellence Enhancement Grant, which is funded by the Office of Research and Innovation, the Office of the President Meader Endowment, and the Office of the Provost.

Image of Super Resolution Confocal Microscope

Super Resolution Confocal Microscope

ITEEG funds will support the acquisition of an important instrument for hearing and vision related research.