Attracting clinicians to career paths in clinical and/or translational research has been an objective of Washington University in St. Louis (WU) since it partnered with the Central Institute for the Deaf to establish one of the first graduate training programs in audiology in 1947, offering a clinical master's and a PhD research degree in audiology. Since then more than 660 individuals have earned audiology degrees and all of them completed a research project. The acquisition of the research, clinical, and educational programs formerly operated by CID to WU and their placement into the Department of Otolaryngology has further strengthened our hearing research, clinical practice, and academic programs. The clinical doctoral program in audiology (AuD) is offered through the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS) and creates an expanded opportunity to enhance research training for future audiologists through its close affiliation with one of the nation's largest research-based otolaryngology departments, and its new home in a highly-ranked medical school that emphasizes training of clinician scientists.
The specific aim of the renewal is to continue to offer expanded opportunities to attract audiology students to careers in research. Intensive, full time 3 month research experiences will be offered to selected students who demonstrate the talent, interest, and capability to work and learn in specialized research environments. Five cohorts of 6 trainees will complete a research project under the supervision of one of more than two dozen funded scientists in laboratories conducting research that spans the scope of practice of clinical audiology: vestibular function and balance assessment, evaluation and treatment of age-related and noise-induced hearing loss, sensory cell regeneration and development, cochlear implants in children and adults, language acquisition and speech perception in children with hearing impairment, hearing aids, tinnitus, diseases of the middle and inner ear, aural rehabilitation, and the basic sciences underlying these practice areas. All trainees will be required to present their projects formally at one national meeting (e.g., American Auditory Society), publish them in an open access digital repository, and encouraged to publish them in a peer reviewed journal. [These research experiences will help secure the scientific foundation of the profession, provide mentorship opportunities for funded faculty engaged in research projects, instill a research mindset into all Washington University T-35 trainees, and attract candidates to research careers.]
This application for continued funding seeks 5 additional years of support to continue offering short-term, full-time, mentored research training experiences for qualified predoctoral audiology students who may be attracted to research careers as clinician-scientists in audiology. During the initial 5-year grant award, 28 trainees, including 17 from our AuD program and 11 from external programs, successfully completed summer rotations under the mentorship of 10 research faculty members in the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences at Washington University. Continued funding of this important program will allow us to enroll another 30 trainees (6 per summer) under the mentorship of the more than 28 faculty members in our program, with goals that include attracting students to research careers in audiology, providing research support for mentors, and securing and promoting the important scientific foundations of the profession.
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