The 2022-2023 academic year marked the fifth anniversary of the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, and it has truly been a banner year. Cochlear Center Director Frank R Lin, MD PhD

We saw results from our large research and policy initiatives, with publication of the ACHIEVE and HEARS randomized controlled studies and the FDA's long-awaited release of guidelines for over-the-counter hearing aids, an effort five years in the making.

Our first public health campaign, aimed at establishing the Hearing Number, or four-frequency pure tone average, as a universal, neutral metric to understand and talk about hearing, got off the ground with a new website. It picked up momentum through a partnership with the Consumer Technology Association to develop a new standard, released this August, that will guide consumer technology companies in using and implementing the Hearing Number in their products.

Most importantly to our mission, our training programs continue to be sought after, we attract trainees with impressive drive and ambition, and our programming makes the best of the lessons of the last three years with a balance of on-line and in-person learning.

Finally, as part of our post-pandemic return to in-person work this year we moved into a new office suite that gives us the space to be in the office at the same time, in time to expand our trainee cohort and welcome two new faculty members.

Read on for an overview of the achievements of an extraordinary year, and thank you for your continued support. 

Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD
Director, Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health

Research Highlights

ACHIEVE and HEARS Studies Published

The Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders StudyFrank Lin and Joe Coresh behind a podium ahead of presenting ACHIEVE study results

Designed to determine if treating hearing loss in older adults could reduce the loss of thinking and memory abilities that can precede dementia, ACHIEVE found that in older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline, hearing intervention slowed down loss of thinking and memory abilities by 48% over 3 years.  ACHIEVE study's main study findings were published in the Lancet. Findings about other health outcomes including mental health and well-being, physical function, and health care use will be published over time.



The Hearing health Equity through Accessible Research and Solutions StudyCarrie Nieman and a HEARS community health worker review materials

HEARS tested a way to bridge the gap in who gets access to hearing care by training community health workers to connect older adults with low-cost hearing technology.  The HEARS program works: the team found that participants’ hearing and communication improved significantly – all with a 2-hour program delivered entirely by community health workers using over-the-counter, low-cost hearing technology.  Results of this randomized clinical trial were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  HEARS lead Carrie Nieman, MD, MPH, plans to test the model in other geographies and demographics, and is seeking partners and funders to help take the HEARS program nationally and internationally.

These major studies have implications for clinical practice and for federal policy around improving Medicare's hearing care coverage. 

Learn more: 

Driving Public Awareness

The Know Your Hearing Number™ CampaignHearing Number logo

The Cochlear Center's first public health campaign aims to establish the Hearing Number, or four-frequency pure tone average, as a universal, neutral metric to understand and talk about hearing. This phased campaign launched at the convergence of larger public policy conversations about hearing loss and hearing care, an aging society with increasing hearing loss, and a new market for over-the-counter hearing aids.

This year we focused on engaging consumer technology companies on standards for how to use the Hearing Number in their products, outputs, user interfaces, and messaging. The Consumer Technology Association’s Technology and Standards team convened a work group in 2022 to define a voluntary technology standard for the Hearing Number that was formally approved in August 2023. This standard, entitled Four Frequency Pure Tone Average Testing Methodology and Hearing Wellness Reporting Metric for Consumer-Facing Hearing Solutions (CTA-2118), is now available and can be downloaded free of charge through the CTA Store. Consumer technology companies will follow this standard as a guide when using and implementing the Hearing Number in their products. This will ensure a level of consistency when consumer technology companies use the Hearing Number in their products to educate and inform consumers about their hearing. 

With this important tool in place, we widened the campaign's initial focus from hearing loss to broadly addressing hearing across the lifespan, and now turn our attention to engaging advocacy (AARP, HLAA, others) and industry partners in a consumer-focused PR/social media effort to empower consumers to understand their hearing.

Learn more about the Hearing Number campaign and review our Partner Guide at  

Training & Learning

Training Event Highlights

The Fellows Program in Aging, Hearing, and Public Health

In 2023, the international Fellows Program in Aging, Hearing, and Public Health continued into a fourth region of the world. The Fellows Program is designed to provide an overview of public health concepts, methods, and strategies to assist clinicians and researchers in different regions of the world who are pursuing public health research and projects focused on addressing hearing loss in older adults.  Each year’s program targets a specific world region and is held in partnership with a host institution. The program offers a blended classroom pedagogy of virtual learning modules leading up to in-person discussions facilitated by Cochlear Center faculty. 

In 2022 the Cochlear Center partnered with Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, drawing thirty-five fellows to Bangkok to network with clinicians from Johns Hopkins and from around Asia in the field of hearing and aging. 

In 2023, the Center partnered with the Instituto Nacional de Geriatría in Mexico and welcomed forty-three participants, drawn mainly from around Mexico City but also hailing from Chile, Southern California, and Toronto, to INGER in Mexico City. 

Cochlear Center Hearing and Aging Mentoring Program

Co-directed by core faculty Jennifer Deal and Nicholas Reed, CHAMP brings together students early in their doctoral training from audiologic, medicine, and public health programs for an intensive multidisciplinary program. The program includes didactic lectures, seminars, and journal clubs with Cochlear Center faculty, and students work in cross-disciplinary teams under the mentorship of faculty to produce a final research project.

2022 CHAMPs Emily Burg and Emily Ishak, advisees of Jennifer Deal, wrote “Estimating the Contribution of Objectively Measured Hearing Loss on Dementia” during the CHAMPs program and presented their poster at the 2022 Annual Scientific and Technology Conference of the American Auditory Society in Scottsdale, Arizona.

2023 CHAMPs came from Macquarie University in Australia, Stanford Health Care Ear Institute and the University of Michigan, and included an ACHIEVE study clinical audiologist from University of Minnesota. Working in pairs and using ARIC study data, in five days they wrote two scientific papers that explored hearing loss associations with dementia and hospitalizations. Abstracts will be submitted to conferences like AAS.

Seminar Speaker Series

We continued our annual Seminar Speaker Series, hosting six speakers this academic year who shared expertise on a variety of topics around hearing, aging, and public health including sensory loss and brain health, accessibility issues and developments in consumer technology, aging and AI, occupational health research, and affordable medical technology. 

Learn more about each of these programs. 

Cochlear Center Trainees

The Cochlear Center’s ongoing and expanded training opportunities remain sought-after: since the Center began in 2018, we have trained 31 students, and mentored five cohorts of exceptional trainees. The 17 trainees in the 2022-2023 cohort were graduate students, audiologists, physicians, and medical students drawn from around the world who work with Cochlear Center mentors on research that illuminates the connections between sensory loss and healthy aging.

This year, Cochlear Center trainees published 18 research papers, with 13 in review. They gave 15 podium presentations, 35 poster presentation, 1 symposium talk, and produced 1 animated documentary. 

Trainee HighlightsKening Jiang headshot

Doctoral student Kening Jiang won first place for Applied Research in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School’s Delta Omega Poster Competition for her paper, "Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk and Longitudinal Trajectory of Functional Hearing Loss over 8 years of Follow-up."  Jiang's research letter, "Hearing Loss and Fatigue in Middle-Aged and Older Adults," was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and covered by Maggie O'Neill for Health. 


Headshot Oscar LIMedical student Oscar Li created an animated documentary exploring hearing loss through the experiences of two older adults for his Scholarly Concentration project at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Li's film, "What Did You Say?," was selected for the Columbia Film Festival, the Palm Springs Animation Film Festival, and the Couch Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Documentary North America 5:-01-20:00 Category. Watch "What Did You Say?" on YouTube


Headshot Joseph Shen

Medical student Joseph Shen won second place for Applied Research in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School’s Delta Omega Poster Competition for his paper, "Hearing loss and prevalence of depression in older adults in the United States."


Trainee Jon Suen AuD in Bouchet Society regaliz

Doctoral candidate Jonathan J. Suen, AuD served as a guest editor and advisory board member at the American Journal of Public Health and as an editorial board member with ASHA Perspectives Journal. He received a Team Science Award from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical & Translational Research, and was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2023. 


Headshot Ethan WangUndergraduate Ethan Wang received the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award, which supports Johns Hopkins undergraduate students engaged in independent research, and scholarly and creative projects. With the PURA grant, Wang is working with mentor Jennifer Deal to investigate the association between dual sensory loss and cognition among older adults in India from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India. 


New Spaces

Clarice Myers assembles a sound booth
Assistant Faculty Audiologist Clarice Myers assembles a sound booth in the Cochlear Center's new office suite. 

The Cochlear Center moved into a new space 

During the pandemic the Cochlear Center outgrew its space, which had been co-located with the Center on Aging Health. The opportunity became available to spread out in a lower-level space in the same building, and now the Cochlear Center occupies a generous suite that includes offices for faculty and staff, open spaces for meetings and casual gatherings, desk space for each trainee, and even a sound booth.

Being back in person in a hybrid work model has sparked our creativity, deepened our collaboration, and strengthened our connections to this work.

The Center's digital space also got an update: the Cochlear Center website was rebooted with a fresh design and more flexibility to showcase our work. 

New Faces

Two new faculty members joined the Cochlear Center 

Pablo Martinez Amezcua, MD, PhD, MHS is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology. Martinez Amezcua is interested in how mid-life cardiovascular risk factors contribute to health at older ages, including physical function, cognitive health, and sensory loss.Pablo Martinez Amezcua

Alison R. Huang, PhD, MPH, is a senior research associate in Department of Epidemiology, and studies the impact of sensory loss on cognitive and mental health in older adults, with a specific interest in sensory loss, social isolation, lonelinessAlison Huang