With a grant of DKK 36.5 million from the Oticon Foundation, DTU Hearing Systems Group can now found a new research centre with special focus on cross-disciplinary basic research in the audiological disciplines. In more popular terms, the different disciplines will meet to research the so-called 'cocktail party problem', or the noisy situations where people with a hearing impairment are especially challenged.
The official name of the research centre is the Oticon Centre of Excellence for Hearing and Speech Sciences, colloquially just the Oticon Centre of Excellence. The Centre will be headed by Professor Torsten Dau, who is also head of the Centre for Applied Hearing Research (CAHR), which the Oticon Foundation has over the years subsidised by a total of DKK 20 million. As opposed to the Oticon Centre of Excellence, CAHR focuses on so-called applied research, leading to the development of practical solutions for diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Going forward, the two projects will run parallel under the leadership of Torsten Dau.
What is special about the Oticon Centre of Excellence is that the research carried out here will be supplemented with untraditional disciplines such as cognitive science, communication, medical image editing and mathematical modelling.
"The ambition to develop a more interdisciplinary approach – and in doing so to work on projects from different angles at the same time – is very exciting, both from a research and from an educational point of view," says Professor Torsten Dau. "We expect to reach ground-breaking discoveries in understanding how speech and music are processed and perceived by the brain."
Chairman of the Oticon Foundation, Mr Niels Boserup, is excited about the project: "I consider it a great privilege for the Oticon Foundation to be able to support basic research in the area that is closest to our hearts, namely audiology. We already have great experience with the work that is being carried out at the Centre for Applied Hearing Research, so I am convinced that also the Oticon Centre of Excellence under the leadership of Torsten Dau will be of vital importance to the development of research in audiology."
The Oticon Foundation is the only external contributor and the Foundation's grant of DKK 36.5 million will cover research expenditure for the next five years. The Centre will employ a considerable number of scientists, visiting professors, postdocs and PhD students, who will work together on a number of carefully selected basic research projects in the field of audiology. In addition to internal cooperative partners based at DTU, external competencies from educational institutions such as Université Paris Descartes in France, University of California, Berkeley, in the USA and Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, in Denmark will be involved to a great extent.