Lucy Anderson is an Action on Hearing Loss funded researcher at the UCL Ear Institute. Previously the recipient of one of our Pauline Ashley New Investigator Grants, she is now working on a to understand the different ways in which noise and age affect our hearing .
After obtaining a degree in Physiology from the University of Glasgow, Lucy went on to obtain her PhD at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research in Nottingham with Professor Alan Palmer. It was here that she learned neuroanatomical and neurophysiological recording techniques, and her interest in a particular part of the brain called the auditory thalamus was nurtured.
Since her PhD, Lucy has carried out post-doctoral research at the University of Salamanca in Spain, and is now at the UCL Ear Institute. There, she records nerve activity throughout the auditory brain to investigate different aspects of the auditory system in health and disease, and has introduced scientists and students to the world of auditory thalamic research.
What does Action on Hearing Loss funding mean to you?
As an ‘early career’ scientist, by far the biggest research problem I face is the fierce competition for grant funding. Funding calls for untenured scientists [those without permanent contracts] are few and far between, and tenured appointments require evidence of ability to secure grant funding. This chicken and egg situation has led to a number of excellent auditory researchers leaving the field.
The Pauline Ashley New Investigator Grant was a great opportunity to break this vicious cycle and to pursue my independence – while asking research questions close to my heart. Not only this, but as my current research builds upon my previous work, the grant highlights the continuity between my previous research papers and confirms my contribution to previous research projects.
In short, this award is helping me to establish myself as a truly independent scientist, while offering me the opportunity to break new ground in research into hearing loss in older people.
What do you want your research to achieve?
To understand the problems underlying hearing loss, we have to understand how the auditory system works under normal conditions. My previous research has helped to establish these foundations; now I’m really excited to be building on this. I will determine whether, as we age, cells within a particular brain area lose their sensitivity to detect when a sound ends. If this is the case, such a specific deficit would not be detected by standard clinical hearing tests. If my hypothesis is correct, my research could lead directly to the development of new tests for hearing function. This would enable us to diagnose hearing problems in their earliest stages, to maximise preventative care.