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Hearing for all! Hearing4all Cluster of Excellence is launched

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Grand launch with Johanna Wanka, Minister of Science and Culture.


Oldenburg. The "Hearing4all" Cluster of Excellence was launched with an international conference and grand opening at the University of Oldenburg on Thursday 4th November. With their joint application to form a Cluster of Excellence the hearing researchers at the University of Oldenburg, Hannover Medical School (MHH) and the Leibniz University of Hanover scored full marks with the Excellence Initiative initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The University of Oldenburg will be leading the hearing consortium and the project will be subsidised with 28 million euros over five years. The guests at the grand opening were welcomed by University President Prof. Dr. Babette Simon and included Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Minister of Science and Culture for Lower Saxony, as well as Dr. Dieter Bitter-Suermann, President of Hannover Medical School, and Prof. Dr. Erich Barke, President of the University of Hanover.

"The success of the Cluster of Excellence is a tribute to the years of outstanding work by the scientists at our universities. Many people benefit from this highly applicable leading research in the field of hearing, as does Lower Saxony as centre of hearing research of international renown," stated Johanna Wanka, Minister of Science, at the grand launch.

The Presidents of the participating universities unanimously agree that concentrated scientific competence and high-profile partners are the hallmarks of the Hearing4all Cluster of Excellence. They will continue to work together to achieve their goal of "Hearing for all" with innovative research.

A two-day international symposium will be held to mark the launch of the Cluster of Excellence. It will be devoted to the future of hearing research. The Cluster of Excellence aims to improve the overall communication situation for patients, an ambitious goal. Achieving this requires an individualised hearing diagnostics and customised care with personal hearing aids – whether at work, in traffic or at home. To this end, innovative manufacturing concepts for hearing aids and implants will be developed along with "assistive" technology for everyone – meaning a hearing aid in every smartphone, TV or car radio. Research focuses on improving speech comprehension in ambient noise.

From the start, the Cluster of Excellence has met with huge international interest. "Lower Saxony hearing research already has a very strong international reputation. I look forward to new ideas for research coming from the Hearing4all Cluster of Excellence," emphasized conference attendee Prof. Dr. Dr. Christoph Schreiner of the University of California, San Francisco.

The new Cluster of Excellence is headed up by Oldenburg physicist and medical doctor Prof. Dr. Dr. Birger Kollmeier (Spokesperson), and otolaryngologist Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr. Thomas Lenarz (Deputy Spokesperson) of the Department of Otolaryngology at Hannover Medical School. In addition to the three universities, participants include the Jade University of Applied Sciences, the HörTech Competence Centre, the Fraunhofer Project Group for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology, the Hearing Centres of Hanover and Oldenburg, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. and the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst. The Auditory Valley research network combines and focuses the expertise of the Lower Saxony hearing institutes. Working together with leading enterprises in the industry, they hope to develop innovative solutions for better hearing.