Sharon Kujawa, PhD, has been promoted to Professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and named the Sheldon and Dorothea Buckler Chair in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Mass Eye and Ear.
Endowed by Sheldon and Dorothea Buckler, the Chair is awarded to a senior faculty member who embodies the same passion and commitment to innovation as Mr. Buckler, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Mass Eye and Ear from 1996 to 2002. Mr. Buckler is a strong advocate for bench-to-bedside research in medicine and spent four decades creating breakthrough film technology for the Polaroid Corporation.
Dr. Kujawa, Senior Scientist of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, is a world-renowned auditory neuroscientist. She earned her PhD in speech and hearing sciences from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the HMS faculty in 2001, she completed a clinical fellowship in Audiology at the University of Arizona and research fellowships in auditory pharmacology and neurophysiology at the Kresge Hearing Research Lab at Louisiana State University and the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at Mass Eye and Ear.
Dr. Kujawa’s research has primarily focused on how cochlear function is compromised by noise and aging, and how these processes can be manipulated pharmacologically to reveal underlying mechanisms for prevention or treatment. In 2009, she and M. Charles Liberman, PhD, uncovered a new type of inner ear damage called cochlear synaptopathy, or “hidden hearing loss.” Before their groundbreaking discovery, scientists had attributed sensorineural hearing loss to the loss of hair cells in the inner ear. However, Dr. Kujawa’s work helped reveal that the synapses connecting hair cells to nerve fibers are damaged long before hair cells.
“Dr Kujawa’s groundbreaking work on cochlear synaptopathy and hidden hearing loss represents one of the single most important discoveries in hearing research in the last several decades,” said Chief of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Mark A. Varvares, MD, FACS. “Her discovery has helped unlock the mechanism of a common form of hearing loss and has stimulated research on how to cure the condition.”