The proposed pan-european coordinated effort will include the following objectives:
Clinical and audiological assessment of tinnitus patients according to common standards
Data management in a central database and identification of subtype candidates
Developing standards for neuroimaging studies and probing the neurobiological entity of the defined subtypes by large-scale analyses of neuroimaging data
Identifying the involvement of genetic factors in the pathogenesis of the different subtypes of tinnitus
- Development of standards for outcome measurements in clinical trials and central data collection
How networking within the Action will yield the objectives?
The objectives will be achieved under the umbrella of this COST Action by joining experts working in complementing disciplines in academics and industry with their main interest on tinnitus: audiologists, otologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, neuroscientists, clinical-trialand neuroimaging-specialists and geneticists. The COST Action will provide an excellent platform for unifying and harmonizing assessment routines and methodological standards, which is a prerequisite to identify meaningful characteristics for tinnitus subtyping and the pathophysiological factors involved in the different forms of tinnitus. With this COST Action, Europe-wide collaboration will be facilitated with a significant impact on tinnitus research world-wide by networking of renowned scientific experts from various disciplines and many COST countries. The Action will accelerate the successful coordination of local research activities into an integrated project by regular meetings and training workshops.
Many of the applicants have already successfully collaborated in the past within the Tinnitus Research Initiative database workgroup (http://database.tinnitusresearch.org) initiated by the Tinnitus Research Initiative (www.tinnitusresearch.org). Within this project a first step towards standardisation of patient assessment and outcome measurement has been made (30). Moreover a tinnitus database has been established (31)and standards for clinical trials have been proposed (32). To date the database contains data from more than 2900 tinnitus patients. The expertise gained by this group is indeed very valuable in terms of clinical characterisation, phenotype definition, establishment of neuroimaging techniques and outcome standardisation, which are major objectives of this COST Action. Furthermore the activities of this COST Action can be based on an established and working infrastructure. Even if this infrastructure is planned to be further developed within this Action, patient recruitment can be immediately started in parallel, which will tremendously accelerate the progress within the Action.
Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) and training workshops will be organised to train early stage scientists and clinical researchers in neuroimaging as well as in specific skills in tinnitus assessment. Outreach activities, establishment and realisation of standards, dissemination of knowledge, and transfer of know-how are an essential part of this COST Action and are going to be achieved by training workshops, scientific meetings, and conferences. The internet will be used for information transfer and dissemination by the creation of an interactive website which will serve as platform for information and discussion for clinicians, researchers and patients.