Each year at the Cochlear Center we produce an annual report that summarizes our successes in research, training and policy work. In the midst of the day to day of life it can be hard to see the bigger picture. But it is very, very satisfying to look at a year in its entirety and notice patterns, celebrate forgotten successes (last spring seems so far away!) and get perspective on the value of our work. Looking back with a sense of accomplishment can be a powerful motivator for the work ahead.
Looking back with a sense of accomplishment can be a powerful motivator for the work ahead.
Highlights from 2019 include:
- Mentoring 19 trainees conducting research at the Center.
- Hosting the East Asian Fellows Program in Aging, Hearing, and Public Health, with 31 fellows across East Asia (accepted from over 109 applicants) coming to Baltimore for a week of in-depth, didactic training and mentoring.
- Collaborating with investigators to potentially incorporate hearing testing into the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA, n=16000) and the Longitudinal Aging Study in India.
- Completing enrollment for two NIH-funded clinical trials (Baltimore HEARS study (N = 151) and ACHIEVE study (N=977)); both are potentially landmark studies that will influence our understanding of the impact of hearing loss treatment and how hearing care can be delivered.
- Making inroads on policy changes that will reform Medicare.
As 2020 grinds on, it’s clear our next annual report is likely to point to some different successes than we’ve focused on so far. While we’ve weathered the disruption of COVID 19 (and are likely to face more as this global pandemic recedes and recurs) I’m excited – but not surprised – by the creativity and flexibility I’ve seen in the faculty and staff. Perhaps the thing I’m most energized by is the online formats we’re exploring that will enable us to expand our training and mentoring programs internationally and here in the US. By removing the time and cost burdens of travel, we could expand the scale of these programs and offer access to an even larger number of participants.
As well, violence this year has laid bare the tremendous racial and socio-economic disparities in our country and spurred a necessary national conversation about race. Racism is a public health issue, and societal and institutional racism have affected the health and well-being of generations of black and indigenous people, and other people of color. I am prouder than ever that the Cochlear Center’s research and policy work examines solutions to the real and persistent racial and socio-economic disparities in hearing healthcare.
That is the work ahead. For now, it is gratifying to see last year’s efforts summarized, and I invite you to take a moment to look back with us in our newly published 2019 annual report.