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December 8, 2004

OHSU gets $1 million grant for research on hearing

From: BizJournals - Portland, OR - Dec 8, 2004

Two Oregon Health & Science University professors have received a $1 million, three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to create novel ways to better understand the basic mechanisms of hearing.

The researchers will seek to develop an optical instrument capable of imaging the hearing organ within the cochlea in animal models.

Alfred Nuttall, director of OHSU's Oregon Hearing Research Center and professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery and biomedical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine, will collaborate on the project with Steven Jacques, a professor of biomedical engineering based at OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering and dermatology on the Marquam Hill Campus.

OHSU cited the interdisciplinary collaboration as an example of the direction medical research is headed, and one of the central reasons for the July 2001 merger between OHSU and OGI.

The instrument Nuttall and Jacques aim to create will use the principles of optical interferometry called optical coherence tomography to visualize the membranes and cell structures of the cochlea, and measure the movements of the cochlear structures in response to sound. The data will contribute to scientists' understanding of the micromechanical motion of the organ of corti (the hearing organ) and how it receives sound.

"This grant is a new twist on previous work in the field of optical coherence tomography to image blood flow in superficial vessels," Jacques said. "We are measuring movement of the cochlear membrane rather than movement of red blood cells, which presents new engineering challenges that our grant addresses."

© 2004 American City Business Journals Inc.