UCL News


New research to explore causes of tinnitus

17 November 2008


British Tinnitus Association logo ucl.ac.uk/ear/" target="_self">UCL Ear Institute
  • British Tinnitus Association
  • Dr Roland Schaette has taken up the new post of Senior Research Associate into tinnitus at the UCL Ear Institute, funded by a £230,000 grant from the British Tinnitus Association (BTA).

    The grant will fund Dr Schaette's position for three years, during which time he will work with a small team of researchers to explore the potential causes of tinnitus at a number of stages of the auditory pathway. The goal of the work is to develop strategies to diagnose the condition early; to identify susceptible individuals and ultimately to find a way to abolish the causes of tinnitus.

    At least ten per cent of the UK adult population has tinnitus - the condition of noises 'in the ears' and/or 'in the head' with no external source.

    Dr Schaette aims to find a comprehensive theory for the development of tinnitus by developing an understanding of how hearing loss can lead to tinnitus, and finding out how to reverse the changes that initially cause the condition. In this research Schaette will work in close collaboration with a number of experts at the UCL Ear Institute.

    Dr Schaette said: "My goal is to understand how hearing loss through damage to the inner ear can lead to tinnitus. When the auditory system tries to compensate for hearing loss, tinnitus can arise as a side effect. Ultimately we will try to directly revert the changes to alleviate tinnitus and hopefully find new treatments for the condition."

    David McAlpine, Professor of Auditory Neuroscience and Director of the UCL Ear Institute said: "The BTA's commitment to funding a research fellowship marks a significant step in the search for a cure for tinnitus. Here at the Ear Institute, we believe that the most fruitful approach to finding a cure lies in understanding how the healthy auditory system works and how it is perturbed by tinnitus. In partnership with the BTA, the Ear Institute will be able to develop a programme of research that brings a wide range of scientific disciplines to bear on the investigation of tinnitus."

    To find out more about tinnitus research, follow the links at the top of this article.

    Image: New Senior Research Associate Dr Roland Schaette (left) with BTA Chairman  Roy Bratby at the UCL Ear Institute