HHF: Emerging Research Grant (ERG)

Hearing Health Foundation

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Deadline: Feb 26, 2021

Grant amount: Up to US $50,000

Fields of work: Hearing Disorders & Audiology

Applicant type: Postdoctoral Researcher, Research Scientist, Faculty

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

Degree requirements: Applicants must be within 7 years of receiving their PhD

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About this funder:



Emerging Research Grants Program

Through the Emerging Research Grants (ERG) program, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) provides seed money to hearing and balance researchers who focus on researching underfunded areas of otology. Grantees advance scientific knowledge in the following under-researched areas: Hearing Loss in Children, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Hyperacusis, Tinnitus, Ménière’s disease, Usher syndrome, making cancer drugs less ototoxic, and the links between hearing loss and diabetes, heart and kidney disease.

ERG awards are one year in length and are renewable for a second year and governed by the Council of Scientific Trustees (CST). The CST is comprised of senior researchers and physicians from across the nation who review each application for scientific merit and relevance. The work of ERG alumni has led to dramatic innovations in hearing and balance science, with most going on to obtain grant awards from The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others. Our review process is so thorough that, on average, the NIH has matched $91 for every dollar HHF has invested in ERG researchers. For in-depth profiles on our ERG-funded investigators, see our Meet the Researcher series. 

Research Topics

Applications must only be submitted in one of the stated research topic areas below. Applications outside of these areas will not be considered.

Age Related Hearing Loss

  • Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of age-related hearing loss
  • Role and management of comorbidities especially relevant to older populations
  • Auditory processing, particularly in loud or reverberant environments
  • Genetic factors in the development and/or treatment of age-related hearing loss
  • Devices or medications specifically for older populations

General Hearing Health

  • Physiology of hearing and balance
  • Epidemiology of auditory and vestibular disorders
  • Human otopathology
  • Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hearing loss and balance disturbance
  • Human genetics and mouse models of peripheral and central auditory/balance dysfunction
  • Innovation in cellular and molecular therapies
  • Auditory and vestibular implants, and hearing aids

Central Auditory Processing Disorder

  • Normal and abnormal auditory processing
  • Creating testable models of auditory processing disorders
  • Etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of CAPD
  • Genetics of CAPD
  • Development of screening tools and diagnostic tests for CAPD including behavioral, physiologic and neuroimaging
  • Language, music, learning and communication issues related to CAPD

Hearing Loss In Children

  • Etiology of childhood hearing loss (e.g., genetic, infectious, traumatic)
  • Assessment and diagnosis of childhood hearing loss
  • Auditory neuropathy
  • Behavioral, cognitive, developmental, and psychosocial consequences of childhood hearing loss
  • Impact of early intervention
  • Education of the hearing impaired child
  • Cochlear implants and Auditory Brainstem Implants in children


  • Mechanisms of hyperacusis
  • Development of animal models
  • Genetics of hyperacusis
  • Etiology, diagnosis and treatment ofhyperacusis
  • Brain imaging, biomarkers, electrophysiology of hyperacusis
  • Distinctions between hyperacusis and tinnitus
  • Interaction between auditory nerve and trigeminal nerve information

Meniere’s Disease

  • Mechanisms of endolymphatic hydrops including mechanisms of cochlear fluid regulation
  • Genetics of Meniere’s disease
  • Animal modelsof Meniere’s disease
  • Imaging of hydrops
  • Etiology, diagnosis and treatment of Meniere’s disease
  • Vestibular function and dysfunction


  • Peripheral and central mechanisms
  • Role of ion channels, ototoxicity, genetics
  • Subjective and objective assessment
  • Etiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention
  • Imaging of tinnitus

Usher Syndrome

  • Etiology, diagnosis and treatment of Usher Syndrome
  • Genetics of Usher syndrome
  • Role of identified genes in hearing and vision
  • Creation of mouse models of Usher syndrome
  • Development of molecular and cellular therapies

Overview of Policies and Objectives

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) awards grants once a year for the project period of October 1 – September 30. A grant represents a mutual joining of interests on the part of HHF, the Grantee, and the Grantee Institution in the pursuit of a common objective, furthering hearing and balance science. HHF Emerging Research Grants are intended primarily for promising researchers who are in the early stages of their careers and focusing on hearing loss, hearing restoration and hearing and balance related conditions. Senior investigators are also eligible for grants in specific hearing and balance topics.

The primary purpose of this Award is to enable the Principal Investigator (PI) to become established and/or produce quality research that will allow the PI to successfully compete for NIH grants or grants from other sources.

Applications will be considered for research on specified research topic areas of the auditory and vestibular systems to be listed in the Request for Applications; both fundamental and clinical research proposals are welcome. HHF grants up to $50,000 per year for each research project for an initial period of one (1) year, renewable for one (1) additional year.

The Council of Scientific Trustees (CST) of HHF, in conjunction with the Scientific Review Committee (SRC), will consider the subject of the research, the quality of its design, including the data collection and evaluation components, its potential to significantly advance basic knowledge or clinical application, the available facilities and personnel at the institution in which the research will be carried out, and the qualifications of the Principal Investigator (and any co-investigators as appropriate). In accepting a research grant, the Grantee Institution and the Grantee are responsible for using grant funds only for those purposes set forth in the application and approved in the HHF award letter.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Geographical: Grants are limited to institutions within the United States of America.
  • Non-tax-exempt organizations: Domestic non-profit, tax-exempt institutions must be recognized by the US Government as an IRS 501-c-3 organization.
    • Grants are made solely to tax-exempt organizations to support research directed at those institutions by investigators who are on their staff or are otherwise formally attached to them. 
  • Funding: HHF grants are meant to support research endeavors carried out by investigators who are beginning to work in the field of hearing and balance generally or in a new sub-field thereof.
  • Eligibility for all:
    • Applicants should demonstrate experience and strong research training as well as sufficient institutional support (facilities and time as well as mentorship, if applicable) to carry out the proposed work.
    • Applicants must hold an M.D., Ph.D., Au.D. or equivalent degree.
    • The applicant must hold an appointment at a non-profit educational, governmental or research institution within the U.S. Appointments may include faculty, postdoctoral fellow, or clinical/research fellow. Otolaryngology residents are eligible to apply.
      • Other medical residents and graduate students are not eligible to apply.
    • The proposed research must address one of the hearing and balance topics advertised in the ERG Request for Applications.
      • In the application, the applicant must provide justification for the relevance of the proposed research to the designated ERG topic area.
    • PIs in early stages of independent research careers are especially encouraged to apply
  • Eligibility for General Hearing Health Applicants (Limited to early career researchers):
    • Principal Investigators should be in the early stages of independent research careers (within 7 years of completing their terminal degree). 
    • If the applicant is a postdoctoral fellow, it is expected that he or she be at the senior level (e.g., 3 or more years of postdoctoral training).
    • Further, the applicant must demonstrate in the application that he or she is on a pathway to professional independence in his or her academic career.
      • Specifically, the applicant should indicate how the proposed aims will help with his or her transition toward independence from the mentor, including how the proposed research is distinct from the mentor's research program.
    • Applicants may not concurrently receive support for the proposed project of more than $75,000 per annum in direct costs from any other combined source(s) during the Project period.
      • Funding of pending awards during the HHF Project Period may necessitate the return of the balance of the HHF award.
  • Grant funds may only be used for the direct costs of carrying out approved projects, such as:
    • salaries of technical and supporting personnel;
    • limited alteration and renovation of existing facilities;
    • purchase of equipment (cost of equipment should be equal to/greater than $5,000; any capital equipment necessary to the proposed experiment(s) costing less than $5,000 needs to be justified);
    • supplies including drugs and services; and
    • other specifically authorized expenses as may be essential to carrying out the project.


    • Eligibility for General Hearing Health Applicants and Early Stage Researchers:
      • PIs in early stages of independent research careers will receive top priority for funding.  


    • Grant funds may not be used for the following:
      • salary of Principal Investigator, co-investigator or individuals with a doctoral degree;
      • equipment under $5,000 (i.e., office equipment such as laptops, printers, etc.)
      • living expenses;
      • reprints;
      • overhead costs exceeding 10% of project costs; or
      • public information, education programs or training costs (including tuition).
    • Applicants cannot be a current or prior PI on a major independent research award (e.g., R00, R03, R21, R01, VA Merit, DoD, or equivalent). Prior appointment on fellowship/training grants, or prior service as a PI on a mentored career development award, is allowable.
    • Individuals employed or otherwise conducting research at institutions outside of the United States are not eligible to apply.
      • Applications for research continuation or bridge funding should not be submitted.
    • ERG Awards are not made to for-profit concerns.  


    This page was last reviewed December 11, 2020 and last updated December 11, 2020