Ringing In The Ears Could Become A Thing Of The Past For Seven Million People, Thanks To Northumberland Freemasons

14th March 2022

A cure for tinnitus, or ringing in the ears may have moved one step closer, thanks to a £75,000 grant from Northumberland Freemasons.

The grant will fund a Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) studentship which aims to develop and nurture young researchers who wish to develop a career in auditory neuroscience. The studentship has been awarded to Kate Yukhnovich, who is based at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Dr William Sedley.

Tinnitus is experienced by one in eight, or approximately seven million adults in the UK. Whilst most people are able to manage the condition, for some it can have a severe effect on their daily life, causing stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Most cases of tinnitus are linked to hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear, for instance through ageing or exposure to loud noise.

Kate started studying psychology at the University of Sheffield in 2015, and later completed a PhD in neuroscience at Newcastle University. There is currently no cure for tinnitus, so she decided to specialise her research as this had the potential to improve the treatment of the condition and the lives of millions of people.

The study will use a brain imaging method called electroencephalography (EEG) to compare the changes in brain activity of people with and without tinnitus while they listen to a series of sounds. Through her findings, she will aim to develop a test to tell whether a person has tinnitus or not.

Developing an objective test is important to improve understanding of tinnitus, which in turn will help to speed up the development of treatments

The grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Kate Yukhnovich said “It’s astonishing that more work isn’t done in this area, considering more than seven million adults in the UK are living with tinnitus. I’m really keen to develop a clearer understanding of the condition and help people who are affected.”

Dr Greg Smith from Northumberland Freemasons, said “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help RNID with this hugely important research. Some people describe tinnitus as a constant hiss or screech, which can cause great distress over a long period. It’s desperately important that we continue to research this condition and find a solution. This partnership offers us more hope that tinnitus might one day be silenced.”

Ralph Holme, Director of Research and Insight at RNID, said “We’re very grateful to Northumberland Freemasons for this generous grant. Hearing loss and tinnitus research is significantly underfunded, which is why grants like this are so important to help us achieve breakthroughs. Less than one per cent of the total public and charity investment in medical research was spent on hearing research in 2018 – just 83p spent per person affected. We look forward to seeing the results of Kate’s research.”

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