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Otology Division Clinical Studies and Trials

Vestibular function and spatial navigation

Primary Investigator: Dr. Yuri Agrawal

Patients with loss of vestibular (inner ear balance) function sometimes report symptoms of spatial disorientation, and loss of spatial memory and navigation. In this study, we are using a virtual reality testing system to assess spatial navigation ability in patients with reduced vestibular function in 1 or both ears. For further information visit the study website.

Balance Function in Alzheimer’s Disease 

Primary Investigator: Dr. Yuri Agrawal

Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) are at increased risk of falls. In this study, we are investigating the impact of inner ear balance (vestibular function) on falls in patients with AD. We are recruiting patients age 60 and over with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and we are measuring their vestibular function at different intervals and tracking falls over a 2-year follow-up period. As part of the study, we also track hearing function, vision, and other balance measures, and we make all of these reports available to participants. For further information visit the study website.

Clinical trial of vestibular therapy in Alzheimer’s Disease

Primary Investigator: Dr. Yuri Agrawal

In addition to our observational study described above, we are also taking an early look at the potential benefit of vestibular therapy in reducing falls in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. We are recruiting patients with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease who will receive either vestibular therapy or standard care (this will be determined at random), and we will determine the potential benefit of vestibular therapy in reducing falls in AD. All patients will be offered vestibular therapy at the end of the trial if they choose. Falls can be a very negative outcome in patients with AD, and we are looking for ways to prevent falls from occurring in AD. For further information visit the study website or (Trial # NCT03799991).

CGRP as a Biomarker for Vestibular Migraine

Primary Investigator: Dr. John Carey

Vestibular Migraine (VM) is a migraine variant in which patients experience both symptoms of migraine and vestibular dysfunction. Though diagnostic criteria for this disorder was established in 2012, diagnosis still remains a challenge due to symptom overlap with other disease, psychiatric comorbidities and aggravations, and multiple temporal patterns. Furthermore, there are no established pathognomonic clinical signs or laboratory testing to verify diagnosis. To elucidate the pathogenesis of VM, Dr. Carey’s laboratory seeks to determine if calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) can be utilized as a sensitive biomarker for VM in saliva, plasma, and nasal secretions using proteomic techniques.

Developing a Patient-Reported Outcome Scale for Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome

Primary Investigator: Dr. John Carey

Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SCDS) is a rare syndrome characterized by autophony, pulsatile tinnitus, hearing bodily sounds, and sound as well as pressure-induced vertigo. Management of this syndrome has been demonstrated to subjectively improve symptoms however there are no available tools to study outcomes in a rigorous manner. Dr. Carey’s laboratory seeks to validate a SCDS-specific patient-reported outcome scale that comprehensively assesses disease severity and study changes in severity with various treatment options.

Application of genome editing to autosomal dominant hereditary heating loss (DFNA)

Primary Investigator: Dr. Wade Chien

Nonsyndromic autosomal dominant sensorineural hearing loss (DFNA) is a rare form of hereditary hearing loss. Typically, hearing loss presents during childhood or even adulthood. Recently, it has been shown that genome editing can be applied to a mouse model of DFNA to delay the progression of its hearing loss. The genome editing technology has the potential of correcting the underlying genetic mutations in affected cell types. In this study, we plan to assess the efficacy of genome editing on skin cells obtained from DFNA patients. These patients and their family members will also be followed longitudinally to better characterize the natural history of DFNA. Eligible participants must be 13 years and older.

Vestibular implant trial 

Primary Investigator: Dr. Charles Della Santina 

This research is being done to evaluate the safety and ability of a new implanted device to help people who have lost most or all vestibular sensation (inner ear balance function). This device, the Multichannel Vestibular Implant, is like a cochlear implant except that it is designed to sense motion rather than sound and to stimulate a different part of the inner ear. Eligible participants must be 22 to 90 years old with severe loss of inner ear balance sensation in both ears and good hearing in at least one ear. For further information, visit the study website or (Trial # NCT02725463).

Single-sided deafness and cochlear implantation

Primary Investigator: Dr. Daniel Sun

Cochlear implantation is a new, FDA-approved treatment for those suffering from severe hearing loss in one ear only. Compared to traditional methods using hearing aids, cochlear implants confer advantages in the quality and directionality aspects of hearing. We are currently gathering information regarding patients who have severe hearing loss or deafness in one ear and their experience with cochlear implants to help improve the treatment of hearing loss. ( registration NCT05052944)

Pain, safety, and image quality of magnetic resonance imaging with cochlear implants: a prospective trial

Primary Investigator: Dr. Daniel Sun

In this study, cochlear implant recipients who are undergoing routine MRI for any clinical indication are asked to complete a questionnaire at the time of their scan. The questionnaire is designed to assess pain and discomfort, if any, during the MRI related to the cochlear implant. This study is sponsored by cochlear implant manufacturer Advanced Bionics LLC but is open to recipients of any cochlear implant.

MRI of the inner ear

Primary Investigator: Dr. Bryan Ward

Dr. Ward is supported by the NIH and the Hearing Health Foundation to develop MRI of the inner ear. He is conducting several clinical research studies investigating better ways to see the inner ear using MRI. Dr. Ward is recruiting healthy adults and patients with Meniere's disease for MRI studies.

If you or a family member or friend are interested in participating in any of these clinical trials, please contact our Clinical Trials Coordinator Ashley Cevallos at