Dr. Nuttall appointed first OHSU Jack Vernon Endowed Professor of Hearing Research

Dr. NuttallSeptember 18, 2013

Alfred Nuttall, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery and vice chair for research, has been appointed the first OHSU Jack Vernon Endowed Professorship in Hearing Research, effective July 1.

The endowed professorship is named for the late Jack Vernon, Ph.D., professor emeritus of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery.

Adding to a lead gift from the Crane Creek Family Fund of the OCF, the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Vernon generously showed their support for this endowed fund with contributions exceeding well over $1 million.

Dr. Nuttall, director of the OHSU Oregon Hearing Research Center, joined OHSU in 1996. He is also professor emeritus of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan.

Significant discoveries from the Nuttall Lab include:

  • Proof that spontaneous otoacoustic emissions come from vibration of the basilar membrane
  • Loud sound causes ischemic and hypoxic in the cochlea
  • The organ of Corti produces power in response to sound
  • A technology to measure human cochlear blood flow
  • A technology enabling the study of inner ear tissue vibration at high resolution

The appointment recognizes Dr. Nuttall as a faculty member who has achieved exceptional distinction in the field. “Dr. Nuttall has served as OHRC director for many years and helped grow the center to one of international prominence,” said Jeanette Mladenovic, M.D., MBA, MACP, OHSU provost.

Funds from this endowment will not only advance Dr. Nuttall’s work in hearing function, hearing loss and cochlear physiology but also offer additional resources to the OHRC research enterprise, including support for a variety of critical activities, salary support or other priorities.

“Having personally known Jack Vernon as a respected colleague and friend, I am deeply honored by this professorship,” said Dr. Nuttall. “The support will enable my work in the study of inner ear function and prevention of hearing loss due to loud sound and age.”

vernon250-1A full-time OHSU faculty member from 1967 to 1997, Dr. Vernon was a visionary leader in hearing research and translational science and helped lay the groundwork for OHSU’s Oregon Hearing Research Center (OHRC) to evolve into one of top such centers in the world.

The Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery writes: “Dr. Vernon dedicated his life to solving the real problems of hearing. As a founding member of OHSU’s Kresge Hearing Research Laboratory, he always believed the key was to combine the insights of basic research with compassionate patient care in one place. Under his leadership, the Kresge laboratory evolved into the Oregon Hearing Research Center. The OHRC has blossomed into an internationally renowned laboratory that is today poised to become the world’s leading center for hearing research, the treatment of hearing disorders and the prevention of hearing loss.” Dr. Vernon died Nov. 11, 2010.

Faculty and Endowed Professorships

As called for in OHSU’s Vision 2020 Strategic Plan and reinforced in the School of Medicine Research Roadmap, OHSU will partner to make Oregon a leader in health and science innovation to improve the health and well-being of Oregon and beyond. Key to achieving this goal is recruiting, supporting and retaining a faculty that will collaborate to drive excellence and innovation across OHSU.

A foundational element of OHSU’s commitment to our faculty is to broaden and diversify funding sources through expanded and novel partnerships. OHSU’s partnership with the OHSU Foundation includes a specific charge to diversify and deepen faculty support.

Endowed professorships are one such philanthropic tool. Currently, OHSU has 84 endowed professorships. Faculty members holding these positions cross all missions.

Endowed professorships allow world-class physicians and scientists to pursue promising work at OHSU that will hasten the pace of discovery and ultimately benefit patients across Oregon and far beyond. Income from professorship endowments typically provides salary support, start-up funds and other resources to enable the holder’s maximum potential and productivity.

Pictured: (top) Alfred Nuttall, Ph.D., (bottom) Jack Vernon, Ph.D.