American Tinnitus Association elects Wayne State researcher as new chair
DETROIT – The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) has elected Jinsheng Zhang, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as the new chair of its board of directors. With decades of experience in tinnitus research and work with the ATA, Zhang aims to assist with proactive recruitment of scientists to the field of tinnitus and engage more researchers in ATA grant opportunities that will spur progress toward more effective treatments and cures.
Tinnitus is a common auditory condition that affects millions of people in the United States and can present as a variety of sounds — including ringing, buzzing or clicking — that can be heard only by the person with the condition. Whereas some habituate quickly to the sound, others find it difficult to ignore, which can lead to insomnia, increased anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. Evidence-based interventions are available to alleviate the negative effects of tinnitus, but access to care remains an obstacle, as does consistent care within the health care industry.
“I’ve been affiliated with the ATA for nearly two decades, as a seed grant recipient early in my career, chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee in more recent years and board member,” said Zhang. “I believe in the work of the ATA and want to lead the way toward more significant investment in cutting-edge research and attracting new talent to the field.”
It is often difficult to retain researchers in the field of tinnitus research because of limited funding and the challenge of understanding the underlying mechanisms of a condition with no objective measure, which can be caused by numerous factors such as hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, stress and noise exposure. Zhang emphasized that the ATA seed grant he received in 2005 was pivotal in his decision to stay in the field.
Zhang currently leads an $8.6 million Department of Defense-funded multicenter clinical trial to develop a pharmaceutical treatment for tinnitus, which is the leading disability among veterans. Along with his department chair role, he also serves as research director in the Department of Otolaryngology in Wayne State’s School of Medicine and as director of laboratories for tinnitus and auditory neuroscience research.
“We’re thrilled to have Dr. Zhang as our new board chair as of July 1, at a time when the ATA has sufficient funds for research grant investment. Thanks to individual donors and the generosity of Texas Roadhouse — which has hosted two extraordinary fundraisers for the ATA in honor of their late founder, Kent Taylor, who struggled with severe tinnitus the last year of his life — we’re able to review grants throughout the year, not just once a year,” said David Hadley, current chair of the board of directors.
The ATA’s Innovative Grants Program fills a critical need for researchers pursuing novel investigations that require funds to test a theory and, if successful, produce data that can be used to apply for funding from larger institutions. The ATA funding model enables individuals to contribute directly to research and encourages researchers to explore the boundaries of what is currently known.
The ATA Board of Directors guides the organization in its mission and efforts to meet the needs of the public, including educating physicians on how tinnitus can be managed, helping patients find qualified health care providers, and providing seed funding for research that could lead to breakthroughs.
The ATA operates the Tinnitus Advisors Program call line, a free, one-time 15-minute consultation intended to help callers understand management strategies, direct them to appropriate health care providers and answer questions. The ATA does not provide medical guidance, and always recommends that people be properly evaluated by their physician when tinnitus develops or changes, since that can indicate an underlying medical issue, which, when addressed, may result in the elimination or reduction of the sound. To speak with an ATA advisor, call 1-800-634-8978, ext. 3. If tinnitus symptoms are causing severe distress, call 911 or the 988 crisis hotline for immediate help.
About the American Tinnitus Association
The core purpose of the American Tinnitus Association is to promote relief and to prevent and find cures for tinnitus, as evidenced by its core values of compassion, credibility, and responsibility. The leading cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud sound that damages an individual's auditory system; the second leading cause is head or neck trauma. Tinnitus also is the leading service-connected disability for U.S. veterans. The ATA is funded by individual donors and a handful of companies to fulfill its critical mission. Please donate and/or consider becoming a member so the ATA can continue to improve the quality of life for those living with tinnitus and to educate the public on prevention of the condition. To learn more, visit ATA.org.
About Wayne State University
Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit research.wayne.edu.
Director, Research Communications