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Vignesh R.A.

Hearing Loss

Student researcher investigates hearing loss mystery

The mystery of why a certain kind of antibiotic used in life-threatening situations often results in permanent hearing loss is the subject of a research project being conducted by a Creighton University graduate student researcher.

Vignesh R.A., a doctoral student from south India, specializes in cell culture, developmental biology, molecular biology techniques, microbiology techniques and bioengineering, and has won 14 research paper presentation competitions.

His current project involves antibiotics known as aminoglycosides.

“My research focuses on how aminoglycosides enter the blood system,” he says. “Aminoglycosides are given in life-threatening situations, especially when they are administered to babies who have sepsis, and elderly people.

If we can uncover the mechanism by which these aminoglycosides enter the … bloodstream, then we can save their hearing.
— Vignesh R.A.

“But they are known to cause hearing loss and balance problems. A child who is just born and suffering from a disease that requires aminoglycosides can completely lose his hearing and develop balance problems. This isolates him or her from society.

“If we can uncover the mechanism by which these aminoglycosides enter the inner ear, the inner cochlear, or the bloodstream, then we can save their hearing and give them a good life so that they can bond with the community and be a part of society, and no child will be left alone.”

The reputation of the Creighton School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences as home to the best biomedical scientists in the Midwest region, along with Midwest affordability, drew him to Omaha, R.A. says.

“The hearing research is very good at Creighton, and the faculty is very good and understands the students,” he says. “They don’t coddle the students, but they guide them, the exact guidance that they need in their life.

“I feel this is one of the best places to do a PhD, and if you are in the Midwest, you can save a lot, and that was a key point.”