:: York Research Expert To Lead Hunt For New Treatments (from York Press) ::

York Research Expert To Lead Hunt For New Treatments

Saturday, April 28, 2007
By Haydn Lewis

A TOP University of York scientist has joined forces with a leading charity to help find a cure for deafness.

Deafness Research UK has appointed Professor Quentin Summerfield to be its new chief research adviser and help the charity in its mission to find a cure for hearing loss, the second most common disability in the UK, which affects more than nine million people.

Professor Summerfield will become the charity’s new chief research adviser.

Formerly deputy director of the Medical Research Council’s Institute for Hearing Research, in Nottingham, Professor Summerfield led the national evaluation of the benefits of cochlear implants, so-called “bionic ears” for profoundly deaf people, which led to the revolutionary devices becoming available on the NHS.

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Deafness Research UK, said: “Identifying the most exciting and promising research into deafness is vital if we are going to develop better treatments, cures, or therapies for the UK’s nine million deaf or hard of hearing people.

“We’re delighted that Professor Summerfield has agreed to become our new chief research adviser and help towards this important goal.”

The charity’s chief research adviser plays a vital role in ensuring that Deafness Research UK supports the best and most promising research into finding a cure for deafness. Professor Summerfield joins the charity as it puts into practice a new strategy which aims to secure the sustainability of hearing research in the UK – supporting young scientists early in their careers to improve the number of people within the field and prevent losses to related branches of research.

Prof Summerfield is the Anniversary Professor of Psychology at the university.

He said: “Hearing research is entering a very exciting period -never before have there been so many promising lines of research which could lead to new therapies, treatments, or even cures that will transform the lives of millions of sufferers.

“I’m looking forward to working with Deafness Research UK to help ensure a flourishing future for hearing research in the UK.”

Implants change lives of children

Prof Summerfield is currently carrying out research to help parents of deaf children and their doctors work out whether they could benefit from having two implants instead of one.

Throughout the world, about 50,000 children are able to hear thanks to cochlear implants.

All but a handful of these children use a single implant, but providing children with two implants could have many benefits. Two-eared listening improves the ability to locate sources of sound and to track their movements. These advantages should help children to know where to look to see who is talking at home and at school, and to know where to move to avoid hazards.

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