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Research that resonates: Bauer & Brozoski retiring

August 26, 2019

Carol Bauer, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, and Tom Brozoski, PhD, research professor in Otolaryngology, have retired from their respective positions at SIU School of Medicine.

The husband and wife duo came to SIU School of Medicine from Iowa in 1995 with a deep knowledge of tinnitus research and ideas of how to study potential treatments for this phantom ringing in the ears. The couple was a welcome addition to SIU’s Auditory Research Group, already renowned for innovative studies on the neurophysiology of hearing.

Brozoski used his expertise as a neuroscientist and neurophysiologist to create an animal model of tinnitus that allows detailed examination of the brains of rats and chinchillas as they process sound. Auditory research labs around the world now use his model to map the cascading signal routes within the brain. Dr. Bauer, a researcher and clinician with a background in surgery, psychology and neuroscience, capped her career as chair of the Division of Otolaryngology, shepherding the division to become a full academic department this year. Dr. Bauer also completed her service this year as president of the American Otological Society, founded in 1868, the second oldest medical professional society in North America.

Dr. Bauer had firsthand knowledge of dealing with tinnitus, and a significant part of her clinical practice focused on taking care of patients with the impairment. “It allows me to speak from the heart when I’m talking to people who have the same problem,” she said. “You can’t underestimate the importance of hearing a patient’s history and how they are affected by tinnitus, to direct your research.”

In addition to the tinnitus program, Dr. Bauer established the cochlear implant program at SIU Medicine, one of two in central Illinois. Surgically implanting cochlear micro prosthetics, she has restored hearing to hundreds of deaf patients, from infants to octogenarians.

The hearing research program of Drs. Bauer and Brozoski has led to an improved understanding of tinnitus pathophysiology and has pointed toward several potential therapeutics, resulting in three investigator-initiated tinnitus clinical trials at SIU. Their research has been funded by private foundations, such as the Tinnitus Research Consortium, pharmaceutical companies, such as Amgen, Inc., and government agencies including the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. More than $4 million in extramural funding over the years has not only supported their research but also the participation of medical students and numerous student interns from surrounding area colleges and universities in the field of auditory neuroscience.