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November 14, 2011

SIU Med School Receives Federal Grant to Study Hearing Loss in Cancer Patients

A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a three-year federal grant to study hearing loss in cancer patients.  The grant is from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, a division of the National Institutes of Health.  The total budget for the grant is $436,500.

Vickram Ramkumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and a member of the research team at Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, is the principal investigator for the project.  He is studying ways to prevent hearing loss, which is a common side effect in patients being treated with the anticancer drug cisplatin.  

This research is testing the use of anti-inflammatory agents prior to cancer treatment as a way to prevent hearing loss in animal models.  The results of the study will help increase the understanding of hearing loss and may lead to the development of new drugs for treating this condition in cancer patients.

Ramkumar’s research, which totals $1.5 million, has been funded for 17 years by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and National Organization of Hearing Research.  His previous research has been focused on the role of adenosine receptors in cardiovascular and auditory systems and in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Ramkumar joined the SlU faculty in 1992.  He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore (1986) and his bachelor’s degree from Anderson College in Anderson, Ind. (1978).