Investigators and partners

The project has a number of partnerships which are cruicial to approaching the research questions multi-disciplinarily, and has also set up a steering body to provide input to the project form a number of different perspectives. The hope is that the number of both primary and secondary partners will continue to grow in order to allow the causes and effects of sub-clinical hearing loss to be better understood and better managed.

Principal Investigator

The research programme is lead and co-ordinated by Principal Investigator Professor Chris Plack. Professor Plack is Ellis Llwyd Jones Professor of Audiology at the University of Manchester. The group for this project consists of researchers from a diverse range of backgrounds and their combined expertise ensures that the multi-disciplinary goals of the project are achievable.


The project also involves co-investigators:

  • Professor Kevin Munro
    Ewing Professor of Audiology and head of the Audiology and Deafness Research Group within the School of Psychological Sciences, within the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester
  • Dr Karolina Kluk-de Kort
    Senior Lecturer in Audiology, from the School of Psychological Sciences, within the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester
  • Dr Agnès Legér
    Lecturer in Audiology, from the School of Psychological Sciences, within the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester
  • Dr Garreth Prendergast
    Dr Prendergast joined the project as a Post-doctoral Research Associate.
  • Professor Deb Hall
    Director of the NIHR Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, Professor Hall has extensive knowledge and experience in using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying a range of auditory percepts. Professor Hall is also an expert on tinnitus. In conjunction with fMRI physicist Dr Susan Francis (also a co-investigator), Prof Hall will be leading the part of the project in which fMRI is used to investigating the neuronal changes in humans associated with noise exposure.
  • Dr Mike Heinz
    An associate professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and of Biomedical Engineering and based at Purdue University; Dr Heinz will conduct parallel research using an animal model in the Auditory Neurophysiology and Modeling Laboratory in Purdue. Similar electrophysiological and behavioural tests will be used in the animal studies to those in the human studies to determine the underlying physiological bases of hidden hearing loss.

Project partners

  • Professor Charles Liberman,
    Based at the Harvard Medical School, is a world-renowned expert on auditory physiology and has published important work demonstrating the existence of hidden hearing loss in the animal model. Professor Liberman will provide the histological components of the work undertaken by Dr Mike Heinz.
  • Professor William Shofner
    Dr Shofner is an expert in animal psychophysics at Indiana University. Currently much of our understanding of hidden hearing loss comes from experiments conducted in mice and chinchilla. Professor Shofner will advise on the behavioural tests used on animals.
  • Dr Marcelo Rivolta
    A Professor of Sensory Stem Cell Biology at the University of Sheffield. Professor Rivolta will provide guidance and advice on how the project can closely align its aims and its methods with complimentary work in the field of animal studies. Professor Rivolta has expertise in stem-cell treatments and his knowledge will be invaluable in shaping future investigative studies and applications.
  • Clare Foreshaw
    Clare is a representative of the Health and Safety Executive and will help interpret the findings of the study from an occupational health perspective. Once the extent and nature of hidden hearing loss is characterised it will be necessary to conduct investigative studies which are suitable for informing safe hearing levels in workplaces and ensuring practical outcomes are attainable from the project.
  • Dr Ralph Holme
    Dr Holme is Head of Biomedical Research for Action on Hearing Loss, the largest UK charity for hearing loss and deafness. Action on Hearing Loss will be an invaluable source of advice, and support for the dissemination of information from the study, both within the scientific community and to the community of individuals affected by hearing loss.