Boston, Mass. — Massachusetts Eye and Ear has appointed Daniel B. Polley, Ph.D., leading neuroscientist and hearing researcher, as the first Director of the Lauer Tinnitus Research Center. In this role, Dr. Polley will direct the Center’s efforts to advance research to better understand and treat tinnitus (or “ringing in the ears”), a condition affecting more than 50 million Americans and for which there are currently no widely effective treatments.
An Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and Amelia Peabody Scientist at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Polley is also the Associate Director of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, the largest research center on hearing and deafness in the world. His research focuses on understanding plasticity in auditory processing centers in the brain after hearing loss. A leading expert in the function of the auditory cortex, Dr. Polley uses powerful imaging technologies and electrophysiological methods in both animal models and human subjects to assess abnormalities in neural activity patterns that may generate tinnitus perception. His research examines the basic neural mechanisms that cause tinnitus, but also focuses on how the plasticity of the brain might be engaged to reduce or eliminate the perception of phantom sounds.
“Dr. Polley is an expert in auditory brain plasticity who has made important contributions toward tackling the clinical problem of tinnitus,” said D. Bradley Welling, M.D., Ph.D., the Walter Augustus LeCompte Chair of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Otolaryngology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Mass General. “I have no doubt that he and the team will lead the Lauer Center to achieve long-awaited breakthroughs to bring relief to patients with this frustrating condition.”
Through the generosity of Helene and Tom Lauer, Mass. Eye and Ear launched the Lauer Tinnitus Research Center in 2015 to bring experts and resources together to address the clinical problem of tinnitus. In addition to the work of understanding the brain’s role in tinnitus conducted in Dr. Polley’s laboratory, investigators in the Center are working to better understand the role of inner ear damage in the development of tinnitus, while also innovating testing strategies and imaging of the inner ear.
“The Lauer Center features an extraordinary team of neurotologists, hair cell biologists, audiologists and auditory neuroscientists. Together, we have an opportunity to make real progress understanding this debilitating and enigmatic disorder, but it will take a lot of hard work and close collaboration,” said Dr. Polley. “At the Lauer Center, we want to do more than catalog the physiological signatures of tinnitus; our goal is to contribute to the discovery of more effective therapeutic strategies. By leveraging the power of modern biomedical research methodologies and rigorous clinical scientific standards, we hope we can help move the field forward.”
Media Relations, Mass. Eye and Ear
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Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2016–2017 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in the Northeast for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.