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careers. My hope is that trainees funded by the NIDCD will subsequently submit successful career development applications and continue a trajectory to productive and fulfilling research careers. As an otolaryngologist surgeon-scientist, I am committed to training the next generation of otolaryngologist researchers (available at who can leverage their unique clin- ical experience and research skills to address important questions in human disease and disorders.
The NIDCD supports a variety of grant mechanisms that are tailored to support different stages of professional career development. Support for investigators who have received their terminal education degrees within the past 10 years (early-stage investigators; ESIs) is reflective of our commitment to early career development. The insti- tute has a long history of supporting ESIs through special programs, including the Early Career Research Award (ECR R21), and an expedited review of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship applications. Our training programs are designed to support the next generation of scientists and other professionals who will address tomorrow’s expanding health care needs. I encourage you to peruse our extensive research training and career development opportunities at the NIDCD website (avail- able at
Commitment of the NIDCD to a Diverse Biomedical Workforce
The NIDCD has diligently worked to increase the diversity of the research pipeline across our mission areas. When scientists and trainees from different back- grounds work together, their unique perspectives and experiences stimulate creativity and innovation, yielding higher quality research than less diverse teams (available at Importantly, diverse research teams are more likely to ensure that members of underserved populations will support and participate in research and that the research we invest in addresses questions that are meaningful to these communities. Increasing scientists’ understanding of disparate groups benefits us all and is at the core of the NIH mission: to uncover new knowl- edge that will lead to better health for everyone. Deafness and other communication disorders, after all, cross all cultural, racial, and gender boundaries. Despite these efforts, however, the proportion of investigators receiv- ing funding in our mission areas who are members of underrepresented minority groups remains small.
To affirm the NIDCD’s commitment to inclusive excel- lence and our resolve to both embrace and enable the contributions of a diverse scientific workforce, I initi- ated several steps to ensure that our commitment has an impact. Together with our scientific advisory council and other stakeholders, the NIDCD is exploring how we can most effectively engage underrepresented minority scientists throughout their careers and support train- ing, mentoring, and leadership development programs to ensure a robust and diverse workforce. Furthermore, we are looking at how best to increase participation of underrepresented minority populations in research stud- ies in our mission areas.
Supporting Research Toward Affordable, Accessible Hearing Health Care and Improving Global Hearing Health Approximately 15% of US adults report some degree of
hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss is a significant public health issue. Higher total health care costs, a higher risk of dementia and cognitive decline, falls, depression, and a lower quality of life have been associated with untreated hearing loss in older adults (Deal et al., 2019). As the lead federal agency supporting research to prevent, detect, and treat hearing loss, the NIDCD supports initiatives to improve access to affordable hearing health care (available at One example is NIDCD’s contribu- tions to and major support for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine consensus study,
“Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability” (2016). Cosponsored by the NIH through the NIDCD and the National Institute on
Aging, as well as four other federal agencies and a non- profit patient advocacy group, the study concluded that the diverse needs of adults with hearing loss were not being met. As a result, one of the independent panel’s 12 recom- mendations for improving adult hearing health care was for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create and regulate a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing devices for adults with mild-to-moderate hear- ing loss. These products are expected to come to market soon, pending release by the FDA of the final regulations for guidelines and quality standards. Additionally, a small- business research grant from the NIDCD led to the first self-fitting hearing aid approved by the FDA in 2018. The NIDCD remains committed to improving the landscape of adult hearing health care and encourages continued research to fill remaining gaps.
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