Central Institute for the Deaf, WUSTL form affiliation

An alliance that began as a trusted handshake in 1931 has become a formal affiliation. After decades of working together, Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) — one of the leading education and research centers for hearing disorders in the world — has entered into a historic agreement with the University.

Richard A. Chole, M.D., Ph.D., shows research assistant Ruth Gill a piece of embedded ear tissue.
Richard A. Chole, M.D., Ph.D., shows research assistant Ruth Gill a piece of embedded ear tissue.

Under the terms of the agreement, the School of Medicine has assumed ownership and governance of a portion of CID’s programs, including its hearing research, adult clinical care and advanced-degree programs, and will continue to advance the institute’s mission to help people with hearing loss.

The CID School and Outreach Center will continue as independent programs.

“This new level of partnership with CID reaffirms Washington University’s commitment to biomedical research in hearing, clinical care for those with hearing impairment and graduate-level education of future specialists in audiology, deaf education and speech and hearing sciences,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said.

The transferred programs have become part of the Department of Otolaryngology, under the direction of Richard A. Chole, M.D., Ph.D., the Lindburg Professor and chair of the department.

The University’s otolaryngology departments ranks No. 4 in National Institutes of Health funding to such departments nationwide. The addition of eight CID scientists will make it the largest otolaryngology research program in the country.

The internationally acclaimed CID School for the deaf, including its Joanne Parrish Knight Family Center and the CID Outreach Center, will remain financially independent entities.

The school specializes in teaching deaf children from birth to age 12 to listen, talk and achieve literacy. The outreach center offers mainstreaming assistance, continuing-education workshops and other community services.

The new agreement between CID and the University involves an exchange and lease-back of real estate valued at $32 million, with CID and University programs both utilizing the CID campus facilities at 4560 Clayton Ave. in the Medical Center. Under the agreement, CID will sell the majority of its real estate assets to the University at fair market value and the University will assume CID’s bond indebtedness.

CID will then lease-back the school portion of the campus. The CID residence hall will be transferred to the University at the end of the 2003-04 school year.

The Department of Otolarygology will assume and continue the research programs in the Harold W. Siebens Hearing Research Center, which houses the Fay and Carl Simons Center for Biology of Hearing and Deafness and the Center for Childhood Deafness and Adult Aural Rehabilitation.

The Spencer T. Olin Hearing Clinic for adults, formerly CID Hearing Central, will also remain on the Medical Campus but as a new part of the Department of Otolaryngology’s Division of Adult Audiology, which also operates locations in the Center for Advanced Medicine and at 605 Old Ballas Road. These three clinical centers will continue to provide complete audiological testing and hearing-aid fittings.

The University will also manage the academic programs providing graduate degrees in audiology, deaf education and speech and hearing sciences through the newly established Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences within the School of Medicine.

According to the agreement, these transferred and expanded research, clinical and graduate degree programs now operated by the University in affiliation with CID will be called Central Institute for the Deaf at Washington University School of Medicine.

“The affiliation will strengthen both institutions and create an international powerhouse in the field of hearing and deafness,” said Larry J. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “CID’s renowned reputation will strengthen the medical school as a whole.”

CID Executive Director Robert Clark said, “The alliance enables CID to expand its work and mission in an exponential way, taking advantage of the clout and reputation of one of the nation’s finest medical research programs.

“Meanwhile, the CID school and outreach programs will focus and expand on what we do best: continuing to set the standard of excellence for helping hearing-impaired children and their families and continuing to serve as an important resource for professionals throughout the world.”

Clark noted that CID was confronting several financial challenges, which precipitated this change.

“Although we were able to raise more than $30 million through our successful capital campaign, our operating budget was suffering,” he said.

“The high cost of scientific research, the declining value of our endowment in the stock market and upward pressures on labor and operating costs all combined to create a financial situation that threatened CID’s very survival. This alliance creates a win-win situation for both CID and the University and ensures the continuation of our mission.”

CID was founded primarily as a school for the deaf and a teacher-training center in 1914 and for decades, beginning in the 1930s, played an important role in the development of audiology as a science and profession. Today, it is a recognized world leader in oral education, applied and biological research and professional education.

CID’s audiology program has been consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 by U.S. News & World Report. In recent years, CID scientists have been awarded 15 grants from the National Institutes of Health and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. CID-developed evaluations and curricula are also used to help hearing-impaired children worldwide.

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