Research and innovation
Audiovestibular medicine is in an ideal position to benefit from the expansion of the academic training framework. Audiovestibular physicians are likely to have a leading role in coordinating specialist hearing and balance services, mostly at the tertiary level, and lead the way in implementing new technologies in diagnostics and therapeutics in the field (for example EMBalance).
There is considerable scope for research in all aspects of audiovestibular medicine and research is emphasised throughout specialty registrar training and subsequent consultant clinical practice. In the larger centres there are more opportunities for formal research projects. A few trainees in audiovestibular medicine will undertake a period in training dedicated to research while completing a higher degree, eg MD or PhD and a relatively high and increasing proportion of AVM physicians hold higher degrees (eg MD/PhD). There is a close relationship between a consultant’s research topic and their development of subspecialty expertise. Some of the specialty fields include auditory processing disorders, balance in older adults, migraine associated vertigo and autoimmune inner ear disorders.
Research into audiovestibular disorders is an important priority for patients (eg the 100,000 Genomes Project and UCL’s evidENT research hub) and patient charities commission a significant amount of research in the UK (eg Action on Hearing Loss, Ménières Society and British Tinnitus Association). By catering to the clinical needs of people with complex audiovestibular conditions within multidisciplinary and academic structures, AVM is in a unique position to deliver applied clinical research that translates basic science findings and novel technological developments into clinical practice for patient benefit.