Hearing and balance problems are typically the result of benign conditions. However, they can also be signs of serious, life-threatening disease. Accurately distinguishing between life-threatening diseases and benign conditions must occur before a person chooses to use hearing aids or other non-medical treatments.
The research of David A. Zapala, Ph.D., improves physicians' and audiologists' ability to make this determination so that individuals seeking non-medical treatments, such as hearing aids or vestibular rehabilitation, can do so safely.
- Neural aspects of audition
- Computational modeling of auditory function
- Role of the vestibular system in spatial orientation and balance
- Development of information technology to support clinical decision making
Significance to patient care
The overall aim of Dr. Zapala's research is to improve patient care through better clinical decision making (efficient and accurate diagnosis). When a person has a hearing or balance problem, he or she often complains of symptoms that can indicate the presence of several different diseases.
Dr. Zapala develops new tests and assessment techniques, supported by refined statistical models, that help clinicians establish the probability of each possible disease given a person's symptoms and test results.
- Distinguished scholar and fellow, National Academy of Practice, 2016
- Member, Engineering and Medicine Committee on the Accessibility and Affordability of Hearing Health Care, National Academy of Science, 2016
- Co-principal investigator and program director, "Can Consumers and Audiologists Detect Ear Disease Prior to Hearing Aid Use," National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders, 2013-2018
- Member, Board of Directors, American Balance Society, 2011-2014
- Member, Board of Directors, American Academy of Audiology, 2010-2013
- Recipient, Jerger Award for Mentoring Clinical Research, American Academy of Audiology, 2009
- Grant reviewer, Veterans Administration, 2007, 2013
- Member, Board of Governors, American Board of Audiology, 2005-2007