European School on Interdisciplinary Tinnitus: a framework for the future

Tinnitus research

European School on Interdisciplinary
© Mario Schmitt

12 universities across 10 European countries; 34 academic, clinical and industrial partners; 17 supervisors and 15 PhD students with the help of €3.8 million EU funding are looking to change the tinnitus landscape over the next four years.

A new European School on Interdisciplinary Tinnitus research programme (ESIT) has been launched which will endeavour to: advance new treatment solutions for tinnitus; improve existing treatment paradigms; develop innovative research methods; perform genetic studies; collect epidemiological data to create new knowledge about prevalence and risk factors and establish a pan-European data resource.

Fifteen students completed the recruitment and selection process for their respective European universities and have started on their PhD journey. A meeting in Warsaw in November was their first opportunity to meet their peers, supervisors and other professionals involved in a European Union-funded tinnitus research programme called ESIT. The European School for Interdisciplinary Tinnitus Research (ESIT) has been made possible through Horizon 2020 funding which, amongst other work streams, will fund their three-year PhD studies and train these fifteen young scientists to work in the field of tinnitus.

The week spent together in Poland was an essential experience for the students as they got to know each other, learnt about the ESIT programme, talked about the future training curriculum and enjoyed some introductory expert lectures from tinnitus professionals from across Europe.

The next task for the students is a clinical internship where, for one week, they will experience the activities of a tinnitus clinic in a European country. This realworld experience will be hugely beneficial as they start their research in the tinnitus world. Their supervisors and course leaders firmly believe that this awareness of the challenges faced by people with tinnitus and clinicians is a prerequisite for impactful research.

An Innovative Training Network (ITN)

For years, professionals involved in the tinnitus field have been calling for more funding and research to improve the situation of millions of European tinnitus patients. And now, thanks to persistence, hard work and lobbying, three Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) have been funded, in the past year, for a total of e10.3 million from Horizon 2020. The three networks will train more than 40 PhD candidates in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Poland. The funding will support a great deal of research into tinnitus.

One of the ITNs is the European School for Interdisciplinary Tinnitus Research (ESIT). The grant agreement for this programme was signed just before Easter 2017, the job announcements of the 15 PhD positions were immediately posted and the official announcement about the project was released in May 2017. €3.8 million will ensure the professionals involved in the ESIT programme can gather data on a systematic interdisciplinary basis, to research new treatment methods and train young scientists to work in the field.

Coordinated by the tinnitus centre at the Regensburg University Hospital in Germany, the ESIT programme is due to run for four years. Alongside the 15 PhD students, there is a multidisciplinary consortium of clinical practitioners, academic researchers, commercial partners, patient organisations and public health experts working together to train, research, disseminate information and ultimately build that evidence-base. This close cooperation across twelve universities from ten EU member states and 34 other academic and non-academic partners makes this programme unique.

Dr Winifred Schlee, ESIT Coordinator, explains, “The ESIT makes it possible for the first time ever to create a common foundation and a universally agreed framework for the future in what has so far been a badly fragmented research landscape. Tinnitus research requires a close co-operation of all disciplines, in order to find innovative individual solutions for a highly diverse disorder profile. I am delighted that with the support of the EU and an excellent array of partner institutions we have made a significant step towards realising our goals.”

Read more on the ESIT training programme on Audio Infos UK.

Victoria Adshead, Audio Infos UK