Maryland Initiative Advances Cochlear Implant Research, Services

Three leading Maryland educational and medical institutions combined forces to launch a new national center that will advance hearing and health possibilities for patients, practitioners, researchers, and clinicians—the Maryland Cochlear Implant Center of Excellence (MCICE).

MCICE serves the Maryland and broader national communities by:

  • providing patients with unparalleled clinical services in the area of cochlear implants (CI), thus improving their health and opportunities for engagement and communication;
  • providing students with unique opportunities to learn about both the science of cochlear implants and how to provide clinical services to implant candidates;
  • providing the nation with new research findings that enhance our understanding of how best to improve human hearing.

“We are poised to become a premier institution for educational training, clinical services, and basic and translational biomedical research on cochlear implants,” said UMD Associate Professor Matthew Goupell, who co-directs MCICE.

MCICE combines the research and educational strengths at the University of Maryland, College Park with the surgical and clinical expertise from the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Medicine to create a cohesive entity composed of educational, clinical, and research components.

“MCICE combines Baltimore’s strengths in CI surgeries, clinical services, and genetics research with College Park’s strengths in student training and audiology research,” said Professor Rochelle Newman, chair of UMD’s Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences and a co-director of the center. “This will allow us to explore new ways to maximize hearing outcomes by individualizing clinical services. It also allows us to provide some amazing interprofessional training opportunities between future audiologists, speech pathologists, and otolaryngologists.”

MCICE will serve the residents of Maryland and the surrounding region by providing a much more comprehensive array of cochlear implant-related health services. These include not only cochlear-implant surgeries and audiological clinical services, but also speech-language rehabilitative services.  

Patients and practitioners alike will benefit from MCICE’s research and services.

“MCICE presents the opportunity to allow patients with hearing loss to benefit from cutting-edge genetic analysis and rehabilitative strategies for hearing restoration,” said Associate Professor Ronna Hertzano of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

A Unique Learning Opportunity

For UMD students, MCICE represents a program that will uniquely prepare them for the professional world, and for continued engagement in academia. Most training programs in cochlear implants focus on either the clinical or research aspects. This center provides students the opportunity to become invested in both—the goal of MCICE is to train researchers that can think like clinicians, and clinicians that can think like researchers.

 “The opportunity to develop intensive speech-language therapy and related counseling intervention as integral components of a cohesive continuum of care across the lifespan for individuals with cochlear implants is an exciting one,” said Colleen Worthington, a clinical professor and the director of Clinical Education in Speech-Language Pathology at UMD. “MCICE will serve as a model of how interprofessional practice and education can function as an effective force-multiplier in order to benefit CI users in their everyday life.”

MCICE will also allow students to move through various stages of their academic career with increased efficiency and fluidity.

“There are very few graduate programs in audiology or speech-language pathology that offer specialty training in cochlear implants from the moment the student walks through the door,” said UMD Associate Clinical Professor and Director of Clinical Audiology Nicole Nguyen. “Students typically receive this training through outside placements during the second or third year of training. MCICE allows for training that incorporates research, clinical practicum, and academic didactic starting in the first semester which cultivates extensive knowledge of these technologies and the patients’ needs."

MCICE: A Signature MPOWER Project

In October, MCICE was selected as one of five new programs from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) designated as signature projects of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, a collaboration between the state of Maryland’s two most powerful public research institutions. The launch of these projects mark the one year anniversary of MPowering the State.

MCICE was selected, in part, because of its emphasis on collaboration.

“We are excited about leveraging the strengths of our two campuses to provide the best hearing health for the State of Maryland and beyond,” said Associate Professor of Otorhinolaryngology David Eisenman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The ability to participate in translational research projects allows our implant users to benefit not just themselves, but others as well.”

Future Plans Include CI Summer Camp

The MCICE team is starting to integrate across speech and hearing with plans for a 2-week, intensive summer camp for preschoolers with CIs that will launch in the summer of 2018, where students in speech-language pathology and audiology will work together to provide children with enhanced language and emergent literacy skills.

Learn more at www.mcice.umd.edu.

Parent, patient and practitioner