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May 3, 2007

CU Researcher Wins Grant To Study How Children With Implanted Hearing Devices Respond To Sound, Language

From: CU Boulder News & Events - Boulder,CO,USA - May 3, 2007

A University of Colorado at Boulder researcher has won a $50,000 federal seed grant for work that could one day lead to the development of clinically useful and less invasive ways of studying the brain activity of children who wear implanted hearing devices.

Such research could help doctors and researchers gain a greater understanding of how children acquire hearing and language skills.

Phillip M. Gilley, a postdoctoral researcher in CU-Boulder's speech, language and hearing sciences department, and Arizona State University collaborator Michael F. Dorman, are working on one of 16 projects selected by the National Academy of Sciences. The academy recently announced the winners of its highly competitive Keck Futures Initiative grants, which support interdisciplinary research on "smart" prosthetics such as cochlear hearing implants.

Gilley and Dorman will use three brain-imaging techniques to study how children with implanted hearing devices respond to sound.

Most of Gilley's research focuses on patients who use cochlear implants, small electronic devices that can provide a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

A cochlear device features an external portion that sits behind a patient's ear and a second one that doctors surgically implant under the skin. The device contains a microphone, speech processor and transmitter that convert sounds into electric impulses, which it then sends to the auditory nerve.

Other recipients of Keck Futures Initiative grants are based at some of the nation's top universities and their research could result in better prosthetic adhesives for people who have lost limbs, smart prosthetics that could deliver infection-fighting antibiotics to patients, and bladder-control solutions for those who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

According to the NAS, most federal funding programs typically do not provide grants in areas that are considered risky or unusual, but these grants "aim to fill a critical gap for research on bold new ideas."

The seed grant will enable Gilley and Dorman to purchase equipment, recruit research assistants and acquire preliminary data as part of efforts to compete for larger awards from other public and private sources.

The Keck Futures Initiative was established in 2003 with a $40 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to enhance collaboration among researchers, universities, funding agencies and the general public.

For more information about the CU-Boulder Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, visit To learn more about the National Academy of Sciences, go to

Contact: Phillip Gilley, (303) 492-5096
(214) 642-0175 (mobile)
Gail Ramsberger, (303) 492-3043
Deborah Méndez-Wilson, (303) 492-3117

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