Medical College of Wisconsin researcher to study ear infections
The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The study will investigate ear infections and explore potential new treatments.
Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, professor of otolaryngology and communication sciences, dean of the medical school and executive vice president of the Medical College, otolaryngologist at Children’s Hospital, and researcher at the Research Institute, principal investigator for the grant.
Infections of the middle ear are the most frequent diagnosis in pediatric patients in the U.S., affecting more than 90% of all children by age five. They are also the most common cause of hearing loss in young children, which can lead to speech, language, educational and other developmental delays. Treatment in the United States consumes more than 30 million clinical visits each year and more than $5 billion in health care expenditures.
This study will investigate mucins, which are fluids that build up behind the eardrums in some children following ear infections and cause hearing loss. Using clinical specimens, animal models and cellular models, molecular techniques will be used to better understand how mucins form in children with chronic ear infections.
Dr. Kerschner is collaborating with the Center for Genomic Sciences in Pittsburgh, Pa., on this project. Additional collaborators in Dr. Kerschner’s laboratory at MCW include Wenzhou Hong, PhD, DVM, assistant professor of otolaryngology; Pippa Simpson, PhD, professor and director of quantitative health sciences; Robert Chun, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology; Michael McCormick, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology; Kristina Keppel, MSN, APNP, DNP in pediatric otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital; P.J. Khampang, research associate; and Christy Erbe, lab manager.
This research will advance knowledge of this disease toward the long-term goal of developing new therapies to treat ear infections and prevent them from causing hearing loss and other serious complications.