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European School for Interdisciplinary Tinnitus Research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ESIT (European School for Interdisciplinary Tinnitus Research)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2021-06-30

What is the problem/issue being addressed?
Tinnitus is the subjective perception of sounds in the ear without an objectively existing source of noise. While acute tinnitus sometimes disappears without treatment, chronic tinnitus can stay for a whole life. For many sufferers, the annoying ringing in the ear or ears leads to a significant long-term reduction in their quality of life. Tinnitus is a very heterogeneous condition with respect to a large variety of patient characteristics. The symptoms vary greatly, and for this reason, at present there is no single cure. Also, it has been difficult by now to compare research studies and clinical trials with tinnitus patients. Hence direct comparison and meta-analysis of findings is difficult or impossible.

Why is it important for society?
According to epidemiological data, chronic tinnitus affects around 42 million people in Europe alone.
Meanwhile, the number of patients is rising steadily, and could double by 2050 if current trends continue. Tinnitus is a phenomenon that has not attracted many researchers though it can be a severe medical problem for patients. There is an urgent need to encourage research on tinnitus, and to promote interdisciplinary work developing new concepts.

What are the overall objectives?
The primary goal of ESIT is to educate and build up a new generation of tinnitus experts that are sensitive to the current challenges in tinnitus research, have a broad knowledge base and have first-hand experience of the possibilities for inter-sectoral complementarity. A total number of 15 Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) will receive formal education as well as hands-on training on tinnitus research and patient care. The researcher projects of the ESRs cover the following research goals:
• Goal 1: Understand meaningful individual differences in tinnitus by integrating knowledge and experience from all relevant clinical and scientific disciplines, and combine it with insights into patient and industry perspectives.
• Goal 2: Develop novel personalized treatment solutions that respect each patient profile and integrate it with state-of-the art technological innovations.
• Goal 3: Promote comparability of scientific and clinical results across all major relevant disciplines at an international level.
ESIT Training Events:
• 4 ESIT Training Schools completed: 1st training school in Warsawa, Poland (20.-24.11.2017) 2nd training school in Nottingham, UK (10.-14.9.2018) 3rd training school in Milano, Italy (25.-29.3.2019) 4th training school in Regensburg, Germany (16.-20.09.2019)
• 4 ESIT Satellite Events: Satellite Event to the 2018 Tinnitus Research Initiative (TRI) Conference, Regensburg, Germany (12.-16.3.2018) Satellite Event to the annual conference of the British Tinnitus Association (BTA), Birmingham, UK (14.-15.5.2019) Satellite Event to the 2019 TRI Conference, Taipei, Taiwan (14.-19.5.2019) Satellite Event to the 2020 TRI Conference, Vancouver, Canada (20.-24.05.2020)
• The ESIT "R" Statistics Training Workshop in Sitges, Spain (22.-30.10.2019)
It is important to note that all these international and interdisciplinary training events have also been attended by other external PhD students and post-doctoral researchers working on tinnitus in other research consortia or individually.

So far, 18 international and interdisciplinary open-access publications were produced by ESIT, the majority of them in Gold Open Access. All publications can be found here:

Outreach activities to the general public:
ESIT uses multiple channels for reaching out to the public.
Other outreach activities: Press releases, public events, articles and videos are listed here:
Importantly, a video about the ESIT project reached over 20.000 viewers:

Awards and career development:
Several ESIT students already won international awards for their research work.
Two ESIT supervisors, Marzena Mielczarek and Christopher Cederroth, won teacher awards from their institutions.
Several ESIT supervisors have been promoted during the course of ESIT, moving on to even more responsible and influential positions in research.
It is expected that ESIT graduates will have excellent career opportunities within the tinnitus field, wider academia, and the private, industrial, or public sector.
The ESIT training programme is designed to maximize the benefit of the ESRs for a future career in the field of tinnitus:
1. The inter-disciplinary nature of the research and training programme will equip ESRs for sustainable careers in a range of professions across multiple sectors: academia, academic-related (e.g. publishing), healthcare, medical device and pharmaceuticals, and charities. Here, ESRs will be able to demonstrate the broad knowledge base required to effectively address the challenges of personalised, effective tinnitus care.
2. ESIT will provide highly-skilled personnel with a solid scientific knowledge base and broad non-academic sector relevance through cross-sector knowledge transfer and transferable competencies.
3. ESIT will reduce the barriers to academic-business mobility by providing enriching experiences in the private sector.
4. The transferable skills programme of ESIT prepares ESRs for senior positions and enables them to adapt and thrive in a variety of employment settings.
5. The ESIT students will be familiarized with the internationally comparable and harmonized protocols for patient assessment that will become a standard across Europe.
6. Active collaboration between the public and private sectors, which is inherent in this project, will promote a coherent understanding of the commercial as well as the scientific evidence-based and regulatory requirements for effective tinnitus care.

In general terms, with the research activities performed in ESIT, we aim to significantly improve European health and wellbeing and the European tinnitus market:
ESIT will improve our understanding of the underlying causes and risk factors for developing tinnitus, develop more effective treatments and improve treatment decisions to deliver therapy that is best-suited for each patient, taking up the principles of the important, cutting-edge area of personalised medicine. Research results will be rapidly disseminated to key stakeholders across the public, clinical professionals and industry through joined efforts of academic and non-academic partners within ESIT.

Overall, the new generation of tinnitus researchers will, by means of ESIT, receive internationally competitive, all-round training and education, which by far exceeds what is available in individual institutions so far. The ESIT network will foster the development of new innovations for the treatment of tinnitus. To ensure the timely transfer from the innovative ideas into relevant products, ESIT especially promotes entrepreneurship among the trainees by a dedicated training module and hands-on advice by successful companies in the field.
Picture of the ESIT Consortium
ESIT ESRs and other participants of 4th ESIT Training School, Regensburg