Genetics and Hearing

by Helen Maunsell

In the recent program about DNA and genetics, residents heard about traits that are inherited, many leading to disabilities in later generations. With loss of hearing being a major concern in the senior community, the Center for Lifelong Learning has arranged for a presentation by scientist Helen Maunsell entitled Hearing and Genetics. The program is scheduled by Friday, March 16th at 2:00 PM in the Maryland room in Clubhouse 1. While the program is free, to assure adequate seating,residents are asked to register with E&R.

Helen Maunsell, is a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, where she works in a lab studying genes that contribute to hearing development. Her passion stems from the potential to use what we understand of how things develop normally to innovate novel therapies for disease. Living in Canada sharpened Helen’s interest in health disparities, opening her eyes to what being a doctor in the United States will mean if women, minorities, and poor people continue to fall through gaps in our privatized health care system. This concern underlies her involvement in community outreach today, promoting public hearing health awareness.

Most inequities in hearing health care become apparent later in life, given the natural tendency for hearing loss to worsen with age. Through this talk Helen will convey the messages of hearing biology, noise-induced hearing loss, and hearing protection. She hopes to give seniors in her community (Montgomery County) a chance to understand the physical and mental toll of untreated hearing loss, to learn how hearing research is contributing to technology like hearing aids and cochlear implants, and to discuss affordable treatment alternatives