This proposal extends for a period of five years an interdisciplinary doctoral program begun in 1992 that prepares scientists for innovative research careers in the Speech and Hearing Sciences. Training is intended to enhance markedly the leadership potential of Speech and Hearing researchers within both academia and industry. The basic premise of the program is that today's speech and hearing scientists must be fluent in a variety of physical, biological, clinical and cognitive science disciplines to achieve the multidisciplinary advances that drive innovation. The keystone of the program is a quantitative approach to understanding these four aspects of speech and hearing. The program draws upon the combined expertise of the faculties of Boston area institutions, including the Harvard Medical School and its teaching hospitals, MIT and Boston University. To date, over 140 students have entered the pre-doctoral training program, including some with independent support. These trainees have diverse undergraduate backgrounds in the physical, engineering, biological or cognitive sciences, including some with traditional speech and hearing backgrounds. Training combines coursework and research for the first 3 years after which it concentrates on thesis research, with the Ph.D. degree expected after 4 to 6 years. The coursework and research training combines a broad exposure to the many scientific disciplines relevant to speech and hearing together with a deep understanding of the student's chosen specialty. An intensive clinical exposure is the third major part of the didactic training program. Special attention is given to issues of integrity and responsible conduct of research. Virtually all of our 79 graduates are pursuing careers in health related research, and two- thirds have primary activities in the speech and hearing sciences. Many have faculty positions in basic science, engineering, and clinical departments and are successfully competing for research grants. Some are combining research careers with clinical practice in otology, audiology or speech-language pathology. Some are taking leadership roles in industries related to speech and hearing or in the broader biotechnology field where they are developing assistive devices and treatments for communication disorders. We will continue vigorous efforts to attract highly qualified students, especially from under-represented minorities.
This innovative interdisciplinary doctoral program trains researchers in Speech and Hearing by combining broad exposure to relevant basic science and engineering disciplines, with rigorous expertise in at least one research area, and intense exposure to clinical practice. The program's graduates are taking on leadership roles in academia and industry where they work at the forefront of scientific discovery and develop novel assistive devices and remediation strategies for those affected by disorders of hearing, voice, speech, language and balance. Some are combining research careers with clinical practice in otology, audiology or speech- language pathology.
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