Annual Report 2023-2024

Annual Report


Six years ago, the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health began with the broad mission of training a generation of clinicians and researchers to study the impact of hearing loss on older adults and public health, create and test hearing interventions, and inform national and global policy on hearing.

Frank R Lin, director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health

This Annual Report captures highlights of our work during the 2023-2024 academic year, including:  

  • Main findings of the ACHIEVE study, our largest clinical trial, were published this academic year in the Lancet, with results that have implications for clinical practice and for global perspectives and policies around hearing care. 
  • We continue to be sought out by decision makers for expert advice on hearing care and funding policy. 
  • Our public health campaign, aimed at establishing the Hearing Number as a universal, neutral metric to understand and talk about hearing, continues apace, with an industry standard now guiding its use in consumer technologies and a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School-branded smartphone app in the pipeline. 
  • Cochlear Center trainees' impressive drive continues to move the field forward: since our start, we’ve mentored 36 trainees, many of whom have gone on to research careers studying aging and hearing loss. 
  • Our training programs have matured into sought-after opportunities and our international fellows training program continued into a fourth region of the world with a fifth region planned in 2024.

Thank you for your interest and support. I hope to see you at upcoming conferences and events and look forward to sharing future news.

Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD

Director, Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health


Advancing Evidence  

ACHIEVE Study Main Findings Published in Lancet, Presented Around the World

The ACHIEVE (Aging and Cognitive Hecover of The Lancet with quote "Based on evidence form the ACHIEVE study, hearing loss might be a particularly important global public health target for dementia prevention efforts"alth Evaluation in Elders) study, is a large-scale randomized controlled trial, led by principal investigators Frank Lin, MD, PhD, and Josef Coresh, MD, PhD, and sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. Main findings, published in the Lancet in July 2023, showed 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. 

These results have implications for clinical practice and for global perspectives and policies around hearing care. The ACHIEVE study also looks at the effects of treating hearing loss on other health outcomes, including mental health and well-being, physical function, and health care use. Those results will be published over time. In the meantime, ACHIEVE investigators continue to follow all study participants beyond three years to look at longer term effects of hearing intervention on cognition and other outcomes.



Highlights of the ACHIEVE study

Informing Policy

Hearing care policy is outdated with respect to our current understanding of the importance of hearing to health and functioning of older adults, technology advances, and the role of services versus devices in hearing care.  Cochlear Center faculty serve as go-to resources for decision makers regarding hearing care and funding policy and engage influential national and international advisory bodies to address hearing loss:

Reed is Health Aging Policy Fellow

Core faculty Nicholas Reed, AuD, PhD was accepted as a Health Aging Policy Fellow for 2023-2024 through the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship program. Fellows complete an intensive 8-week training course on the structure of the United States government, methods of policy making and implementation, and practical skills in navigating the policy process. Nicholas Reed, AuD, PhD

Following didactic training, Reed will serve at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (principal advisory group to the United States Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services) developing guidance and evaluating federal policies on aging and disability including the role of hearing loss in the National Alzheimer's Project Act and hearing care coverage in Medicare.

Nieman and WHO World Hearing Forum

Core faculty Carrie Nieman, MD, MPH, pictured with Shelly Chada, MBBS, MD, PhD, Technical lead for Ear and Hearing Care at WHO, represented the Cochlear Center at the WHO World Hearing Forum members and stakeholders meeting held in Geneva in November 2023. The Forum is a global advocacy alliance set up to implement recommendations from the 2017 WHA70.13 resolution on Prevention of deafness and hearing loss and the 2021 World report on hearing, both of which emphasize the importance of integrating ear and hearing care into national health plans and public health initiatives. Core Faculty Carrie Nieman with Shelly Chada, MBBS, MD, PhD, Technical lead for Ear and Hearing Care at WHO

Members of the World Hearing Forum and other stakeholders met to discuss the barriers to and strategies for changing people’s perceptions related to hearing loss. Forum members also updated stakeholders on the work of the WHO Programme for ear and hearing care, including efforts to advance community-delivered hearing care. Nieman's team, along with collaborators in South Africa and India, are currently conducting feasibility studies of fitting hearing aids in low resource settings in partnership with community health workers. 

Public Awareness

Know Your Hearing Number

A major gap in discussing hearing is the lack of a consistent, conversational metric around hearing health. The Cochlear Center’s “Know Your Hearing Number” public health campaign aims to establish the four-frequency pure tone average as an anchor point for describing hearing, much in the way that visual acuity, blood glucose, total cholesterol, and blood pressure are commonly-used metrics familiar to both clinicians and the lay public.

The campaign continues to gather momentum: we collaborated with the Consumer Technology Association’s Technology and Standards team to define a voluntary   standard for the Hearing Number. Entitled Four Frequency Pure Tone Average Testing Methodology and Hearing Wellness Reporting Metric for Consumer-Facing Hearing Solutions (ANSI/CTA-2118), the standard was approved by the American National Standards Institute in 2023, and can be downloaded free of charge via the CTA Store

Our next step is to enable consumers to have direct access to their Hearing Number. We have engaged a development company to build a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School-branded smartphone app that will allow consumers to learn their Hearing Number on both the iOS and Android platforms.  A social media and public relations campaign to launch the app is planned for late 2024. To scale our reach, we are also engaging with potential funders for a national public health campaign that will drive consumer awareness of the importance of hearing as an important aspect of health across the lifetime. 

We are also focused on reaching clinicians with information about the Hearing Number.  To that end, Cochlear Center Director Frank Lin authored a clinical practice piece for the New England Journal of Medicine, published in April 2024, that will serve as the basis for the portion of the media campaign focused on health care providers.  

Training & Learning

Cochlear Center Trainees

The Cochlear Center’s sixth training cohort included 13 trainees who are 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. Since the Center began, including this current cohort, we have trained 36 students.

This academic year, Cochlear Center trainees published 17 research papers, with 8 in review, and one book chapter. They gave 8 podium presentations, and 21 poster presentations. 

From seminars and Journal Clubs to presenting their work at conferences, at Research Day and as works in progress, we thank our trainees for their tremendous hard work, and highlight select accomplishments:

Sahar Assi  Postdoctoral Research Fellow Sahar Assi, MD matched to the ENT Residency Program at Johns Hopkins University.

Kening Jiang  PhD candidate Kening Jiang, MHS was a recipient of the 2023 Health Sciences Person-in-Training Award by the Gerontological Society of America for her paper "Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk and Longitudinal Trajectory of Functional Hearing Loss over 8 years of Follow-up." 

Elizabeth Kolberg, AuD, MS  Elizabeth Kolberg, AuD, MS concluded her postdoctoral fellowship. 

Francesca Marino, PhD  Francesca Marino, PhD finished her doctorate.  

Joseph Shen, MPH  Medical student Joseph Shen, MPH was selected by JHU Delta Omega Honor Society for 3rd place in Applied Research for his poster "Multisensory Loss and Depression in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Neurocognitive Study (ARIC-NCS).”

Jason Smith, MS  PhD candidate Jason Smith, MS was a recipient of the American Auditory Society Population Hearing Healthcare conference 2024 travel award. 

Jonathan J. Suen, AuD, PhD  Jonathan J. Suen, AuD, PhD finished his doctorate and joined Cochlear Center faculty to continue his work with Carrie Nieman on the HEARS study. Suen was recipient of the American Auditory Society Population Hearing Healthcare conference 2024 travel award.

Ethan Wang, BA  Ethan Wang, BA graduated from Johns Hopkins University, was a top-ten finalist for the Gerontological Society of America 2023 SRPP Outstanding Poster Award, and received a $33,400 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship from Rotary International to pursue an MSc in Population Health at University College London. 

Junlan Xu, ScM  Junlan Xu, ScM graduated from the Bloomberg School of Public Health with a Master of Science degree.

Angie Yang, MHS  Angie Yang, MHS graduated from the Bloomberg School with Master of Health Science degree and received the Cochlear Center Epidemiology Scholarship for Sensory Loss in Aging. 

Programs and Events


The Cochlear Center hosted six monthly seminars this academic year,  featuring speakers with wide expertise in a variety of topics around sensory function, aging, and public health. 

2023-2024 Seminar Speakers included Frank Lin, MD, PhD and Josef Coresh, MD, PhD; Michelle Arnold, AuD, PhD; Jinkook Lee, PhD; Brent Edwards, PhD; Heather Whitson, MD, MHS; and Danielle Powell, AuD, PhD

Summer Fellows Program

In 2023, the Cochlear Center partnered with the Instituto Nacional de Geriatría to hold the annual Fellows Program in Aging, Hearing, and Public Health in Mexico City July 31- August 2.  

a group of more than researchers at INGER in Mexico City in July 2023
2023 Summer Fellows at INGER in Mexico City

Thirty-five participants completed the required on-demand training program created by Cochlear Center core faculty, before convening in person to network with fellow clinicians and with researchers from Johns Hopkins and INGER. 

The 2024 Fellows Program will be hosted by National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) from July 24 – July 26 in Taipei, Taiwan. Participants will convene at NYCU in Taiwan to network with clinicians from Johns Hopkins and from around eastern/southeastern Asia in the field of hearing and aging and will join lectures and discussions with select Cochlear Center and NYCU faculty. 

Summer CHAMP

Led by core faculty Jennifer Deal, PhD and Nicholas Reed, Summer Cochlear Center Hearing and Aging Mentoring Program brings together students early in their doctoral training from audiologic, medicine, and public health programs for an intensive multidisciplinary program. 

Nasya Tan, MPH
Nasya Tan, MPH, presented her CHAMP paper at AAS

The 2023 Summer CHAMP welcomed four participants to Baltimore for a week of in-person collaboration and learning. 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.  

CHAMP 2023 alumna and PhD candidate Nasya Tan, MPH (pictured), advised by Deal, was invited to give the student presentation, a 45-minute podium talk with questions, at the Population Hearing Healthcare conference at the 2024 Annual Scientific and Technology Conference of the American Auditory Society in February.  Tan presented “Hearing Loss and Hospitalization: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study”, which she authored as part of the Cochlear Center’s 2023 CHAMP training program.

Cochlear Center Research Day

Cochlear Center Research Day 2024 included presentations from Center faculty and collaborators focused on aspects of the ACHIEVE study, and poster presentations by Center trainees. Research Day 2024 culminated with a keynote address from guest speaker Iracema Leroi, MD, Professor in Geriatric Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and the Global Brain Health Institute, who presented "Hearing and Vision Rehabilitation in Dementia: Additional Findings from the SENSE-Cog Program."

Cochlear Center Research Day 2024 Speakers (L-R): Iracema Leroi, MD, Victoria Sanchez, AuD, PhD, Theresa Chisolm, PhD, , James Russell Pike, MBA, Alison Huang, PhD, MPH
Cochlear Center Research Day 2024 Speakers (L-R):
Iracema Leroi, MD, Victoria Sanchez, AuD, PhD, Theresa Chisolm, PhD, James Russell Pike, MBA, and Alison Huang, PhD, MPH


More About Our Training & Learning Opportunities