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Erith and Thamesmead MP lends support to new charity scheme

PUBLISHED: 18:00 28 May 2014

Picture: PA/John Stilwell

Picture: PA/John Stilwell

PA Archive/Press Association Images

An MP will be supporting a new charity scheme aiming to help innovative scientists in their quest to find a cure for hearing loss.

The number of people affected by hearing loss is expected to rise by 50 per cent in the next 20 years. Picture: PA/Sean DempseyThe number of people affected by hearing loss is expected to rise by 50 per cent in the next 20 years. Picture: PA/Sean Dempsey

Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, is lending her support to The Pauline Ashley New Investigator scheme which was launched at the House of Commons on May 14.

The scheme, established by charity Action on Hearing Loss, awards project grants of up to £30,000 to help researchers establish careers in hearing research by working towards new treatments, devices and cures.

Ms Pearce said: “Hearing loss is a major public health issue which affects one in six people across the UK. It’s a hidden condition that impacts everyday communication, causing difficulties for people to interact with their family and friends and, if ignored, mismanaged or untreated, can lead to social isolation and even depression.

“There is a real need for more research into treatments and cures for hearing loss and, thanks to Action on Hearing Loss, new scientists will now have the opportunity to get stuck into an exciting and often neglected field of research to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The number of people across the country who are affected by hearing loss, which is currently 10 million, is expected to rise by 50 per cent in the next twenty years, placing hearing loss in the UK’s top 10 illnesses above cataracts and diabetes.

Ralph Home, Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Over the last few years great advances have been made to understand the causes of hearing loss, but there is still a lot more work to do. Our goal is to increase the number of scientists working in hearing research and to help prevent talented people from leaving the field because of a lack of funding: only £1.34 a year is spent on research for every person affected by hearing loss compared to £14.21 for vision loss, £21.31 for diabetes and £49.71 for cardiovascular diseases.”

The grant scheme is named after Lady Pauline Ashley, who co-founded Deafness Research UK with her husband Lord Jack Ashley.

Last year Deafness Research UK merged with Action on Hearing Loss.

Eight scientists have successfully applied for project funding so far, including researchers from Kings College London, University of Oxford, Medical Research Council Harwell and University College London.

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