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Duke Surgeon to Direct NIH Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders

Debara Tucci will lead the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Published May 2, 2019 | Updated May 6, 2019

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DURHAM, N.C. -- National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has selected Debara L. Tucci, M.D., to lead the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) as its new director.

Tucci currently is professor of surgery and director of the cochlear implant program in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. She is expected to join NIH on Sept. 3, 2019.

“Dr. Tucci’s rich experience melds basic and clinical research in communication disorders with an impressive clinical and surgical practice in otology and neurotology,” Collins said.  “This experience, combined with her leadership roles for numerous scientific and professional organizations, as well as serving previously as an advisor at NIH, makes her ideally suited to lead the NIDCD into the future.”

In her new role, Tucci will oversee NIDCD’s annual budget of approximately $459 million and lead the institute’s research and training programs in hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech and language. Discoveries in these areas potentially impacts the lives of the tens of millions of people with deafness and other communication disorders. 

Tucci has been on the faculty of the Duke University School of Medicine since 1993, where she co-founded the Duke Hearing Center. She has received continuous NIH funding since beginning her academic career.  

Her primary research interests focus on addressing barriers to hearing health care for older adults, starting with the primary care setting, and establishing a network of academic and community-based research sites to conduct clinical research in hearing and balance disorders.  

“Dr. Tucci has been a visionary leader at Duke,” said Mary E. Klotman, M.D., dean of the Duke University School of Medicine. “As co-founder of the Duke Hearing Center and director of Duke’s Cochlear Implant Program, she is recognized as a pioneer in her work to understand the causes and impact of hearing impairment and loss and develop treatments to restore hearing. She will be an outstanding director of the NIDCD, and I congratulate her on this exciting new phase of her career.

Tucci currently leads NIDCD grants to train and mentor the next generation of clinician investigators in otolaryngology and communication sciences. While at the NIH, she will continue her work to address hearing loss as a global public health problem in her role as co-chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Hearing Loss.

Tucci is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). She has served on the AAO-HNS Research Advisory Board, Board of Directors, Executive Committee and numerous subcommittees. She has served as president of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, the American Otological Society and the American Neurotology Society, and is active in numerous other professional societies.

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