An international scientific inauguration meeting was held on September 16 and 17, 2019 at the Collège de France to mark the creation of the Hearing Institute, an Institut Pasteur center dedicated to auditory neuroscience research. Organized by Professor Christine Petit, a scientist emeritus at the Institut Pasteur, holder of the Genetics and Cell Physiology Chair at the Collège de France, and founding Director of the Hearing Institute, this international scientific meeting provided an opportunity to mark the opening of this outstanding research center and to promote cutting-edge research to benefit individuals with hearing loss. The Hearing Institute will be officially inaugurated in early 2020.
The Hearing Institute is a new Institut Pasteur center that was officially established during an international scientific inauguration meeting held on September 16 and 17, 2019 at the Collège de France. Professor Christine Petit introduced the high-level scientific meeting and praised the strengths of the new Hearing Institute, the center for basic interdisciplinary research of which she is the founding director. Thomas Römer, Director of the Collège de France, spoke of “the importance of hearing for communication", insisting that hearing was a vital sensory function for humans. The Institut Pasteur President Stewart Cole clarified the role of the new center: "the Hearing Institute complements and extends the scientific legacy of Louis Pasteur, namely to push back the frontiers of knowledge while providing tangible responses to public health challenges." Citing World Health Organization (WHO) figures, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Inserm, Gilles Bloch, emphasized: "Hearing disorders represent a worldwide public health issue of which Inserm is keenly aware". Lastly, the Fondation Pour l’Audition Chairman Jean-Pierre Meyers spoke in his own name and on behalf of his wife Françoise Bettencourt Meyers. He stressed the importance of financial support for the project and described the pride and emotion he felt at finding himself alongside the researchers and Christine Petit. It is important to recall that the Hearing Institute was launched on the initiative and with the support of the Fondation Pour l’Audition, a foundation set up by Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Jean-Pierre Meyers and the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller.
Promoting auditory neuroscience research
The international meeting on September 16-17, 2019 provided the ideal opportunity to promote auditory neuroscience research and the importance of developing innovative diagnostic and curative tools for treating individuals with hearing loss. "I am fully confident that this meeting will give rise to much lively debate, fruitful discussions and new concepts in the science of hearing", promised Stewart Cole at the opening of the two-day event. Scientists from international research institutions such as Harvard University, the Rockefeller University and the Institut Pasteur spoke on various topics related to hearing and on the challenges for the scientific community, leading to focused discussions on basic research and potential therapeutic applications.
May-Britt Moser, a Norwegian neurophysiologist and laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014 (shared with Edvard I. Moser), notably presented her discoveries about grid cells – cells that form an internal positioning system in the brain.
Hearing impairment, a major public health issue
With more than 6 million people with hearing loss in France and almost 500 million worldwide, there is an urgent need to improve quality of life and care for people with hearing loss throughout their entire lives. The pioneering project to create a Hearing Institute – a joint Institut Pasteur-Inserm research unit with teams consisting of scientist staff from the Institut Pasteur, Inserm and the CNRS – will facilitate research and innovation in the area of hearing impairment and pave the way for novel diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for people suffering with hearing disorders.
A scientific inauguration meeting
The meeting on September 16-17 marked the opening of the Hearing Institute, a new interdisciplinary Institut Pasteur center for basic and medical research whose aim is to promote an integrated approach to auditory neuroscience and to develop innovative diagnostic tools and curative treatments for hearing disabilities.