Academy Launches Music and Hearing Research Grant and Consensus Document

Academy Launches Music and Hearing Research Grant and Consensus Document

January 29, 2020 In the News

In April 2020, the American Academy of Audiology launches its newest grant program to support research relative to the prevention and treatment of hearing loss in musicians. The Music and Hearing Research Grant program will support research studies to add to the body of knowledge that will shape best practices in this area of audiology practice. The grant program is sponsored by the American Academy of Audiology Foundation through the generous contribution of Michael Santucci, AuD.

Applications and Review Process

Similar to the Academy’s Research in Hearing and Balance Grant Program, the Music and Hearing Grant Program will be administered by the Research Initiatives Committee. The request for applications (RFA) will go out in April with a submission deadline of June 30. Submissions may focus on topics related to music and hearing, and a list of suggested topics will accompany the RFA.

All audiologists who are members of the Academy are eligible to apply for a grant of up to $10,000. Members of the Academy’s former Musicians Task Force will offer expert review of the grant applications, and the Research Initiatives Committee will use this feedback to inform the selection of one or more projects in the first cycle of the annual grant program.

Check back in April for more details on the application process. 

Expert Support

A unique feature of the grant program will be the availability of Dr. Michael Santucci and others to provide consultation to funded projects. Dr. Santucci is committed to ensuring that the grant program is supporting research that will expand the evidence and literature base to promote best practices. He and other seasoned music researchers offer experience and lessons learned to inform the new research. This consultative component of the program is consistent with other efforts by the Academy to connect audiology researchers with one another, as seen in the Audiology Research Conference (ARC) and the new event at AAA 2020, the Grant Review—Speed Dating session, hosted by Dr. Nick Reed.

Ryan McCreery, PhD, chair of the Research Initiatives Committee, commends Dr. Santucci for his vision of the significant evidence gap in musician research and his willingness to support research efforts.

The Academy is fortunate to have Dr. Michael Santucci championing this important area of research. His willingness to share his expertise in this area is invaluable to shaping the success of the grant program and the research it funds. His commitment to offering guidance to investigators—not just giving money—will guarantee that the funded research adds substantially to our understanding of the interactions between music and hearing.

Dr. Santucci has dedicated his career to protecting the hearing of musicians through his own research and development work and promoting best practices in audiology. He is president of Sensaphonics, Inc, a company that manufacturers hearing protection/in-ear monitors for musicians. In the audiology community and beyond, he is highly regarded for his work in hearing conservation. In addition to receiving many awards for this work, he also serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization.

Consensus Guidance

The new grant program coincides with the release of the clinical consensus document Audiological Services for Musicians and Music Industry Personnel. Developed by an Academy task force under the leadership of Dr. Santucci, this document offers recommendations and strategies for best practices in preventing hearing loss in musicians and others who work in the music industry. The task force represents individuals with expertise in preventing music-induced hearing disorders (MIHD) who developed recommendations based on scientific evidence, when available, and consensus practice.

These recommendations are on strategies for hearing loss protection and hearing protection devices. Although the task force recognizes that exposure to music by others such as concert goers or music venue workers can contribute to hearing loss, the Audiological Services for Musicians and Music Industry Personnel document focuses solely on strategies to address music exposures for musicians and people in the music industry. 

In addition to offering useful recommendations for how to prevent and treat hearing loss in musicians and music industry personnel, the clinical consensus document identifies gaps in evidence that could provide the foundation of a research agenda to inform further best practices. Deficit areas of knowledge include the following:

  • How much the damage risk criteria established for occupational noise limits are appropriate to apply to music;
  • Auditory risks of music over-exposure related to music-induced hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis, and other perceptual disorders;
  • Interrelatedness of genetics, cardiovascular disease, diet, efferent reflex strength, middle ear reflexes, or ear canal resonance with MIHD commonly reported in musicians;
  • Education and training to increase acceptance and use of HPDs;
  • Relationships between high-fidelity sound attenuation products and sound quality ratings using these devices;
  • Effective and efficient training and monitoring strategies to assure that in-ear devices are set at safe listening levels to preventing hearing loss;
  • Phenomena involving lasting cochlear synaptopathy after sound exposures that result in TTS, with permanent synaptic pathology remaining despite the recovery of threshold sensitivity;
  • Tinnitus and hyperacusis symptoms beyond the audiogram to define the risk of damage to both music consumers and performing artists; and
  • Potential positive effects of musical training on the brain as well as the exposures at which risks begin to outweigh benefits.

Dr. Michael Santucci will present aspects of the clinical consensus document as a Learning Lab at AAA 2020 in New Orleans. His presentation, Musician and In-Ear Monitors: An Opportunity to Demonstrate Your Doctoring Skills, will be available on Wednesday, April 1, 8:30-12:00 pm.

Visit, review the online planner of education and events, and select this Learning Lab at registration.


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