April 8, 2019

U-M team triumphs in STAT Madness science competition

By Kara Gavin

They may not shoot three-pointers, and only a few of them are over six feet tall, but a team of U-M scientists still took home the title in a March Madness-style competition Sunday.

Their cheering section included not only Michigan fans but also people around the world who have a hearing condition known as tinnitus.

The team, led by Susan Shore, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, molecular and integrative physiology, and biomedical engineering, rose to the top of STAT Madness, a bracket of 64 university-based scientific teams compiled by the STAT news organization, owned by the Boston Globe.

In repeated rounds of online public voting, their research garnered the most votes. They won their final matchup, against a team from the University of Utah, by 30 percentage points.

Their prize? A story about their research in STAT and the satisfaction of knowing they helped bring attention not only to their work but to the role of universities in basic and translational biomedical research.

Shore’s interdisciplinary team includes faculty, students and staff from the departments of Otolaryngology, Physiology and Biomedical Engineering. Together, they have studied the root causes of the phantom noises heard by millions of people with tinnitus.

Based on that work, they’ve developed a device that showed promise in early clinical testing, and they’re now conducting a controlled clinical trial to measure its effects further. Each STAT Madness entry is based on a landmark paper to represent the team’s work. Shore and her colleagues published their findings in Science Translational Research.

The team received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Mi-TRAC funding program managed by the Medical School’s Fast Forward Medical Innovation initiative and the Office of Technology Transfer.

Read about the winning U-M team's research>>