James Hudspeth, M.D., Ph.D., has made it his life’s work to study and understand hearing at a molecular level. His primary area of focus is the development and operation of the hair cells that serve as the inner ear’s sensory receptors. These hair cells do not naturally regenerate, and their disappearance underlies hearing decline and loss.
Discovering a way to regenerate these hair cells—and thus restore hearing in those who are experiencing hearing loss—is the ultimate goal of Dr. Hudspeth’s work.
“Fundamentally, the motivation for what we do is that there are 30 million people in the United States who have significant hearing problems. That’s 10% of us, and we all know someone in that category,” said Hudspeth. “Worldwide, it is estimated that 450 million people have hearing problems, and that’s probably a low estimate. So it’s an enormous issue.”