By David Fabry This article is a part of the March/April 2018, Volume 30, Number 2, Audiology Today issue. Audiology Today: We are here with Kathleen Arnos, PhD, who is chair of the upcoming Academy Research Conference (ARC) 2018 on genetics and hearing loss, which is being held on April 18, 2018, the first day of the AAA 2018 Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Arnos, thanks for taking the time to chat today; please tell us a little bit about why you choose this topic. Kathleen Arnos: Sure. Well, I was involved since the inception of the idea for the conference itself, so that means I had a lot of input on the topics and speakers, which was nice. We had a small subcommittee that discussed this over a period of several weeks. I think that we had a really great opportunity to put together an agenda of speakers that addresses a comprehensive range of topics related to genetics that will hopefully be of interest to both clinicians and researchers. It’s such an incredible time in human genetics in terms of diagnostics and new technologies, and the impact on clinical practice is just amazing. This has already started to impact the diagnosis and potential treatment of hearing loss and will have even more of an impact in the next few years. It’s changing so fast. Completely agree with you! As a person who has worked with clinical studies with adults who have hearing loss, we often go to great lengths to characterize hearing loss, gender, age, and other attributes, but often spend little time exploring a person’s genetic history, because until recently, inexpensive tools have not been available to clinicians or patients. We talk about the fact that two persons with same audiogram can have very different experiences with amplification, and yet we don’t consider that their genetic history could provide additional clues as to why there are such large differences across individuals. There are a lot of data sitting right in front of us that could help explain these differences in the lab, and also importantly, in the clinic. Exactly, I think that this two-pronged approach of using the traditional tools that we’ve always had in the audiology field (e.g., the clinical diagnostic evaluation tools) can be supplemented by the addition of the “bare-bone” genetics information, such as a person’s family history of hearing loss and how it’s inherited, and include what we call their phenotype (what other characteristics may be associated with the hearing loss). Now we have added something new—you might call it “genomic” information with a better picture of a person’s genetic makeup that can have a tremendous effect on identification, prognosis, and treatment. That approach is getting better and better, and we tried to put together a slate of speakers that would reflect all of that, including information about the genomics approach to everything from newborn hearing screening to adult-onset hearing loss and presbycusis. We wanted to cover a broad range of topics and consider how these new technologies in genetics will impact clinical treatment. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!