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Spotlight on NEOMED’s Research Focus Area: Hearing Research

Merri Rosen, Ph.D., became just the second director of the Hearing Research Focus Area (RFA) in 2019, when she took over the leadership role from Jeffrey Wenstrup, Ph.D., who had served as director since the creation of the group in 2005. The group studies the neuroscience underlying auditory perception, and dysfunction related to hearing loss and tinnitus.

Dr. Rosen has spent that time looking to the future, while aligning the direction of the Hearing RFA with the NEOMED Strategic Plan.

One key focus is creating transformational leaders through multiple development opportunities. The group holds a weekly journal club, which Dr. Rosen describes as one of the most important things they do as an RFA. The meeting is an opportunity for trainees (graduate students and post-doctoral researchers) to hone their skills, as they are required to present their research, articles in the field, or ideas for grants. There are also opportunities for students considering research, which are available for undergraduates at The University of Akron and Kent State, as well as for NEOMED students.

Dr. Rosen also remarked on the friendly culture of the group.

“This group is very supportive of one another,” said Dr. Rosen. “We punch above our weight and compete successfully with researchers at major research institutions – all of us have grant funding from the National Institutes of Health.”

The group has expanded greatly since its inception, with nearly everyone coming from far away to work at NEOMED.

This spirit is also present outside of the group, as they regularly collaborate with other RFAs at NEOMED, as well as the Brain Health Research Institute at Kent State.

The Hearing RFA met for a retreat in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in May to discuss the direction of current research, challenges for each laboratory, research projects of trainees – and to have fun bonding on a sunny spring day in a beautiful setting.

The Hearing RFA is also looking ahead to a milestone – its 20th anniversary, coming up in 2025. The group is currently considering ways to mark the anniversary, as there will be plenty to celebrate.