Debara L. Tucci, M.D., M.S., M.B.A., became the director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), on September 3, 2019. As NIDCD director, Dr. Tucci supports research and education on noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), a permanent and preventable form of hearing loss. She is committed to increasing awareness about the causes and prevention of NIHL through It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.®, the NIDCD public education campaign that targets preteens, parents, and teachers.
“Teaching young people healthy hearing habits early on is critical to helping them preserve their hearing throughout life,” says Dr. Tucci, a pioneer in understanding the causes and impact of hearing loss and in developing ways to restore hearing.
Dr. Tucci joins Noisy Planet and the NIDCD after being on the faculty of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, for more than 25 years, where she co-founded the Duke Hearing Center and directed the medical center’s cochlear implant program. She has served on numerous national advisory and review committees, including the National Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council (2013-17) and the NIDCD Board of Scientific Counselors (2017-2019).
One in eight people in the United States aged 12 years or older (13 percent, or about 30 million people) has measurable hearing loss in both ears. Prolonged or repeated exposure to noise at or above 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA) puts you and your child at risk for hearing loss.
“Our understanding of how loud noises affect our hearing is continuing to evolve, and our estimates on the prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss are likely very conservative,” says Dr. Tucci. “Researchers are also exploring how to fix or replace the delicate structures in the ear that are damaged by noise. For now, however, once our hearing is damaged by loud sounds, the hearing loss is permanent.”
“The important message is that we can help our children—and ourselves—avoid hearing loss caused by noise,” adds Dr. Tucci.
To protect their hearing, encourage your kids to:
- Lower the volume.
- Move away from the noise.
- Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
Learn more about Dr. Tucci and her vision for the NIDCD.