Keynote Panel Discussion

    Deafness and Hearing: What will the Future Look Like?

    A distinguished panel involved in areas of deafness that directly impact listening and spoken language and the future will participate in a 90-minute panel presentation and discussion. Informed by their daily work as leaders, researchers, policy makers, and service providers, panel participants represent a bright future of innovation with implications from molecules to systems and cells to society. The audience, at the forefront of making miracles happen every day, will participate in question and answer periods with the presenters, and final thoughts will be provided near the conclusion of the session.


    Learner Outcomes:

    The learner will re-imagine the impact of hearing loss on the inner ear due to gene therapy and other biological therapies.

    The learner will discern the difference between myths and opportunities regarding artificial intelligence and its future role in improving hearing.

    The learner will detail the hearing research areas of current focus at the National Institute of Health on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and the implications of current work on the future of deafness and hearing loss.

    The learner will appreciate changed expectations secondary to the changing needs of clients and their families as they progress into the future.

    The learner will comprehend how changing and adjustment of current service delivery models as well as new policy spur the empowerment and resilience of individuals and families served.

    The learner will recognize how the merging of hearing aid and cochlear implant technologies as well as preservation of acoustic hearing will impact binaural hearing function.



    Howard Francis, M.D., M.B.A.

    Professor and Chair, Duke University

    Dr. Francis is Professor of Otolaryngology and Chair at Duke University Medical Center, where he is also a practicing ear surgeon. His research addresses best practices in the delivery of hearing health care. He serves on the board of directors of the AG Bell Association.





    Debra L. Tucci, M.D., M.S., M.B.A.

    Director and Co-Chair, NIDCD, National Institutes of Health

    Dr. Tucci is Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health, since September 2019. Current work as co-chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Hearing Loss allows her to pursue her passion for impacting hearing loss disability worldwide.




    Michael McKenna, M.D.

    Chief Medical Officer/Co-Founder, Akous

    Dr. McKenna is the Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Akouos. A world-renowned neurotologist, he has expertise in translational inner ear drug delivery research. He held the Joseph B. Nadol, Jr., Chair, was director of otology and neruotology MEEI, and was a professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. McKenna’s laboratory has shaped the understanding of the molecular pathophysiology of otosclerosis.



    René H. Gifford, Ph.D.

    Professor and Director, Vanderbilt University

    Dr. Gifford is a Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences and Director of the Cochlear Implant Research Laboratory and Cochlear Implant Clinical Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her cochlear implant research has been NIH funded for nearly 20 years, and she has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles.



    Kevin Franck, Ph.D.

    Senior Vice President, Frequency Therapeutics

    Dr. Franck has held a variety of clinical and corporate roles in the hearing healthcare space. Currently, he works at Frequency Therapeutics where he is Senior Vice President. Dr. Franck is a licensed audiologist, and is the Board Chair of the Hearing Loss Association of America.



    Anita Grover, Ph.D.

    Chief Executive Officer, Auditory Verbal UK

    Chief Executive of the charity Auditory Verbal UK. Anita is an experienced coach and consultant on cascading leadership in the UK health sector and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.






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