Nearly one in five people worldwide is affected by hearing loss, the World Health Organization reports. Unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy an estimated $980 billion.

In the United States, hearing loss crosses all age groups and demographics, according to Debara Tucci, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD) at the National Institutes of Health. Yet access to hearing health care is limited, sometimes by the patients themselves, Tucci said in an interview with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Hearing is often not part of the primary care regimen, and people resist hearing aids due to cost, social stigmas, and concerns about poor performance.

“We are now beginning to think about large-scale public health consequences of hearing loss,” Tucci said. “We know that adults with untreated hearing loss are more likely to be hospitalized, to experience falls, and to struggle with anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline.”

Tucci will explore the importance of addressing hearing loss in a public lecture, “Living Your Best Life: How Hearing Well Contributes to Healthy Living and Healthy Aging,” at 5:30 p.m. April 14. Her talk is part of the 12th season of the Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture Series, hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. Refreshments will be available at a 5 p.m. reception.

The in-person presentation is free and open to the public at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke. Masks are encouraged. 

“Dr. Tucci is a recognized pioneer in the study of hearing loss, the development of treatments, and advocacy to address the large-scale public health consequences of hearing loss,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology. “She is leading the discussion of hearing loss as a global public health issue that not only impacts the quality of life of the individual, but also demands the attention of the whole community. We’re fortunate to be able to hear from such a key figure in that conversation.”

Tucci co-founded Duke University’s Hearing Center and directed the university’s cochlear implant program prior to moving to the NIDOCD in 2019. She has served as president of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, the American Otological Society, and the American Neurotology Society. She co-chaired the Lancet Commission on Global Hearing Loss.

In 2012, Tucci received the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery’s Distinguished Award and its Jerome C. Goldstein, M.D., Public Service Award in 2017. The American Neurotology Society awarded Tucci its Presidential Citation in 2014.

Tucci earned a bachelor’s degree in audiology and speech pathology from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in audiology from the University of Michigan, and a medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She also earned a Master of Business Administration from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

Please attend this lecture in person, or watch via live webcast on the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute website. Refreshments available at 5 p.m.; lecture begins at 5:30 p.m.

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