Rehabilitation Research & Development Service (RR&D)

Quick Links

  • Health Programs
  • Protect your health
  • Learn more: A-Z Health
Veterans Crisis Line Badge

Audiology researcher wins Magnuson Award

     Stephen A. Fausti, PhD, received the Magnuson Award, VA's highest award for rehabilitation investigators, in March 2004 at the national meeting of the American Academy of Audiology in Salt Lake City.

     Fausti directs the VA's National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the Portland VA Medical Center and is a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Oregon Health and Science University. He has gained international recognition for his pioneering research and clinical expertise in assessing high-frequency auditory sensitivity and using high-frequency testing for early identification of hearing loss caused by ototoxicity.

Photo of Steven A. Fausti
Stehpen A. Fausti, PhD

   Fausti began his VA research career in the 1970s. At the time, animal models had shown that toxic effects on the ears-such as from certain drugs-typically appeared first in the basal region of the cochlea, where higher-frequency sounds are processed. Fausti realized that to detect the earliest stages of hearing loss in patients receiving ototoxic drugs, hearing sensitivity should be monitored at the higher frequencies. These frequencies are not critical for speech recognition, so early detection of problems and a subsequent change in drug regimen could prevent serious functional losses for veterans.

     Fausti engineered special audiometers to accomplish this and published the first papers describing the reliability of high-frequency thresholds and their use in early detection of ototoxicity. His work led to national guidelines for early identification and monitoring of ototoxicity. Since many patients being treated with ototoxic drugs are unable to respond to behavioral auditory tests, Fausti developed ways to obtain electrophysiological measures of high-frequency hearing in these patients, independent of their ability to respond actively.

     Fausti's work has also improved the understanding and evaluation of tinnitus. The Programmable Auditory Laboratory (PAL) 3000-based on Fausti's original design-will soon be evaluated at several VA medical centers as an automated protocol for measuring tinnitus. Other technology developed by Fausti is now being engineered for compatibility with portable pocket-PC platforms to enhance clinicians' ability to provide early identification and monitoring of ototoxicity.