Dr. Palmer’s Project Wins Wiegand Entrepreneurial Research Award

yellow paper cut out ribbon on light blue background

Catherine Palmer, Director of Audiology for UPMC and Professor in the Departments of Communication Science and Disorders and Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh, is the winner of this year’s Wiegand Entrepreneurial Research Award for her project, LiDIA: Listening, iDentification and Instant Amplification.

LiDIA is a device Dr. Palmer’s team developed to address the main limitations of current state-of-the-art hearing screening and amplification techniques that can be implemented in real time in health care settings to improve patient/provider communication.

“Instead of using an expensive set of calibrated headphones, the screening takes place with a set of inexpensive headphones that can be left on the user for immediate amplification purposes,” Dr. Palmer explained in a May Scoop article. “Unlike existing hearing screening devices, the screening may take place even in noisy environments, and the procedure is simple enough to be carried out with minimal training burden. Finally, instead of requiring separate pieces of equipment for screening and amplification, the device can be transformed into an amplifier with the flip of a switch and with a dial for volume control, providing effective communication during health care interactions.”

The final version of LiDIA will be in the team’s hands in early November. This limited run will be used to make final changes. Once this is completed, the Wiegand Entrepreneurial Research Award will be used to create devices that can be deployed to targeted health care settings to collect user reactions to LiDIA in the real world prior to moving into the commercial space. This will include inpatient, outpatient, home health, and senior living spaces.

The team was awarded the full requested amount. “This funding is essential in the process of moving LiDIA to market,” Dr. Palmer said.

The award was created by Eye & Ear Foundation Board member Bruce Wiegand and his wife Barbara to help advance research within the Departments of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology that shows promising chances of commercialization.