I am delighted to announce that Bonnielin Swenor, MPH, PhD, has joined the Cochlear Center as our newest core faculty member. Bonnie is a long-time collaborator and we have depended on her expertise many times, partnering on research around dual-sensory impairment (vision and hearing) - its prevalence, whether and how DSI contributes to cognitive decline, and how it exacerbates frailty. Bonnie works closely with faculty member Jennifer Deal on the SENSE Matters study, examining cognitive testing among older adults with sensory impairments.
One constant in my work on understanding hearing loss in older adults is that nearly everyone I speak with has a personal story about how hearing loss has affected them – whether it’s their own hearing loss, a spouse who’s become hard of hearing, or an aging grandparent or other favorite adult who has withdrawn or seen their hearing restored with hearing aids. Beyond being a stellar researcher and thinker, Bonnie brings a unique perspective to the subject of disability research: her own personal experience with vision impairment informs her interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to improving the health of people with disabilities.
In her work with the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, where she is director, she and her team focus on improving health of people with disabilities by concentrating on aging, healthcare access, and reducing health inequities and increasing disability inclusion. She has even turned her research lens toward academia, investigating the ways that researchers with disabilities are awarded research dollars compared to their non-disabled peers.
You can read more about Bonnie’s work as director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center here, her role as an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute here, as an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health here, and as a core faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health here.
Really though, what most excites me about Bonnie joining the Center faculty is the knowledge and personal point of view that she’ll bring to our trainees’ experience with the Cochlear Center. As we train the next generation of researchers to study the impact that hearing loss and other sensory disabilities have on public health, Bonnie brings considerable expertise and insight into what it takes to design effective policies that address the sticky and stubborn issues of disability access and health inequities.
Frank Lin, MD, PhD
Director, Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health