Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why does the Center focus on hearing loss in older adults rather than pediatric hearing loss or hearing loss prevention?
We are fortunate that several decades of work by eminent clinicians, scientists and advocates have led to substantial public health progress in occupational noise exposure regulations, universal newborn hearing screening and other such initiatives focused on hearing loss prevention and pediatric hearing loss. These efforts are ongoing and established in the U.S. and in many other areas of the world. What remains missing, however, is public health research and policy work focused on the millions of older adults who already have hearing loss in order to understand the impact this hearing loss can have on health and to create viable solutions to mitigate these effects. These latter areas are what the Center is focused on.
2. Why is the Center named after a company?
Cochlear Ltd. is an Australian company that exclusively develops cochlear implants and other implantable hearing technologies. Cochlear and the Center share the belief that hearing and effective communication are fundamental to human health and functioning, but that hearing loss, particularly among older adults, remains poorly addressed in society. Cochlear’s $10 million gift to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to help create this Center reflects this shared vision. This funding provides support for the core Center infrastructure and for Center faculty and trainees, but is only a fraction of the overall funding that supports the mission areas of this Center, the vast majority of which (more than $20 million), comes from NIH funding and other philanthropic gifts.
3. Could having a company help support the Center potentially lead to scientific bias?
Recognizing the potential for conflicts of interest (either real or perceived) to affect scientific integrity is critically important. To minimize potential conflicts of interest, this Center does not have any programmatic areas of research related to implantable hearing technologies (e.g., cochlear implants and other technologies that are produced by Cochlear). The vast majority of the world’s population with hearing loss (~95%) have mild to moderate forms of hearing loss for which cochlear implants are not clinically indicated. These individuals are the focus of the Center’s mission.
4. How can I help support the Center?
While funding from NIH grants comprises the bulk of the Center’s funding, philanthropic gifts are critical to furthering Center mission areas and supporting trainees. These lines of support in the past have allowed Center faculty to make rapid progress in national initiatives on hearing loss, including recent passage of federal legislation for over-the-counter hearing aids, conducting projects to implement hearing programs for communities in need, etc. For more information on how the you can contribute please visit our funding page.