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Interview with Robert Margolis Ph.D., Professor, Director of Audiology, University of Minnesota

Robert H. Margolis, PhD

July 24, 2000


AO/Beck: Good Evening Dr. Margolis. Thanks for joining us tonight. I want to start by focusing on the award you received at the AAA in Chicago in March 2000. Please tell me about that.

Margolis: The award is the American Academy of Audiology Humanitarian Award.

AO/Beck: What did you accomplish in order to receive such high recognition?

Margolis: I was awarded this honor for leading an excellent team of people who participated in supporting the Jorge Otte Gabler School for Hearing-Impaired Children in Santiago, Chile.

AO/Beck: How did you happen to pick that school for this charitable work?

Margolis: In 1994, I was invited to a joint meeting of ENT and audiology societies in Santiago by my former student Hortensia Goycoolea. She is an audiologist who trained here with us in Minnesota. Her husband, Marcos, is an otolaryngologist and he practiced here for about 15 years. They were originally from Chile and they moved back to Chile in the early 1990s. After the meeting, I had the opportunity to visit the school. There was no predetermined plan to visit the school. However, as soon as we saw the school, it was immediately apparent they were in need of support. They needed teaching materials, all manner of equipment, instructional equipment, audiologic equipment, etc. The hearing aids they had were all donated and were essentially inappropriate. They had no classroom amplification equipment, and the future was not promising.

AO/Beck: So where do you start when you decide to get involved in a project like this?

Margolis: We started with classroom amplification. The first phase was to provide amplification equipment for four classrooms. As we progressed and started to raise the funds, the school actually merged with another school, and soon the target became to equip 8 classrooms. Fortunately, we were able to equip all 8 classrooms with individual FM receivers and teacher mic systems.

AO/Beck: These systems obviously are expensive. Who were the primary funding sources?

Margolis: There were two primary funding sources. One was the International Hearing Foundation, which is headed by Michael and Treva Paparella, located here in the Twin Cities. Dr. Paparella is a very well known Otololaryngologist. The other primary funding source was Rotary. The project was supported by 17 Rotary Clubs in Minnesota and one in Santiago which combined forces to help accomplish the goal. Additionally, there was a matching grant from the Rotary Foundation and the Starkey Foundation donated new hearing aids for all the kids.

AO/Beck: How many kids were involved originally?

Margolis: There were 86 kids in total at that time, now there are about 110.

AO/Beck: That really is fantastic. What was the next step after the FM systems were up and running?

Margolis: Next, we turned our attention to the playground. We built a playground for the pre-school kids and one for the elementary aged children. That too, was funded by the International Hearing Foundation and the Rotary Foundation.

AO/Beck: Again, Bob, that is fantastic. You should be very proud. Is there another phase on the drawing board?

Margolis: Yes, up until recently, the school has been simply a school. However, they are now beginning to provide outpatient services too. The new goal is to equip their diagnostic center. We want to provide them with everything required to diagnose and rehabilitate children and adults with hearing problems. They have an audiologist and an otolaryngologist who see children and adults and we want to continue to support their efforts. So the immediate equipment needs are the audiometer, immitance equipment, an ABR system, an examination chair, an examination microscope and all the related hardware. All in all, the project will total about fifty thousand dollars.

AO/Beck: Are you looking for financial support or donated equipment?

Margolis: We really want financial support so we can purchase all new, state of the art equipment. We've got a good start on the goal, but we welcome any and all financial support. We have financial commitments from several Rotary Clubs and the International Hearing Foundation and I'll write another matching grant application to the Rotary Foundation, so we hope to chisel away at the goal and get this done before too long.

AO/Beck: If one of the readers wants to donate funds, how do they do so?

Margolis: They would send the check with a note to The Minneapolis University Rotary Foundation, care of Robert Margolis, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 283 Mayo Building, Dept. of Otolaryngology, Minneapolis, Mn, 55455.

AO/Beck: Can I presume that all donations are tax deductible?

Margolis: Yes, the donations are tax deductible and we send a written receipt on letterhead confirming the donation.

AO/Beck: When is the next trip to Santiago?

Margolis: I hope to get down there in 2001 to equip the clinic.

AO/Beck: Dr. Margolis, your work on this project has been exemplary and I want to add our heartfelt thanks to you and your team for this wonderful work. If I may, I'd like to shift gears for a few moments to learn a little bit about you and your practice. How long have you been at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis and what is your exact title?

Margolis: I've been at the University for 12 years. I am the Director of Audiology and a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology.

AO/Beck: Do you have responsibilities within the Department of Communication Disorders?

Margolis: Some of us teach courses within the Dept. of Communication Disorders from time to time. The Dept. of Communication Disorders is chaired by Arlene Carney Ph.D. and we're working on a joint project to develop our Au.D. program. As many of the readers know, the administrative hurdles involved in starting a new program can be substantial. Hopefully, we'll have it ready by 2002.

AO/Beck: What types of research are you involved with at this time?

Margolis: We're trying to develop better diagnostic tests for middle ear disease. In particular, we're looking at audiologic aspects of otitis media. I have focused on various measures of acoustic impedance such as conventional and multi-frequency tympanometry and now we have a new technique we're working on called Wide Band
Reflectance .

AO/Beck: I am not familiar with wide band reflectance - what is it?

Margolis: It's a method of measuring the impedance of the middle ear, but it solves calibration problems which have previously limited our ability to measure impedance to frequencies below 2kHz. Wide Band Reflectance is a broad band measure of the impedance of the ear and it can be done in a few seconds. We hope it will provide better capability to detect middle ear disease in newborns.

AO/Beck: Forgive me for skipping around here a little bit but I also wanted to ask you about the patient information pamphlets which you authored. I found them to be very helpful.

Margolis: Yes, thanks for mentioning that. The pamphlets are called Understanding your Hearing , and Understanding Your Child's Hearing . I've become convinced that we don't always do the best possible job when communicating with patients regarding hearing loss. There are many reasons for the lack of communication, but the primary one is probably the lack of time we can spend with each patient. These pamphlets are simple and thorough and they provide information about the type and degree of hearing loss, the etiology, and most importantly, the impact of the hearing loss on their overall communication ability.

AO/Beck: How can the readers get copies for inspection or purchase?

Margolis: The pamphlets are available through a company here in Minneapolis called Medical Technologies. The toll free number is 800-328-6709.

AO/Beck: Dr. Margolis, I'll look forward to learning more about wide band reflectance in the near future. Again, congratulations on the Humanitarian Award and thanks for spending a little time with us this evening.

Signia Xperience - July 2024

robert h margolis

Robert H. Margolis, PhD

Robert H. Margolis earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Kent State University (1968, 1969) and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Iowa (1974). After a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, he joined the faculty of the UCLA Medical School in 1975. In 1980, he was appointed associate professor of communication sciences and disorders and director of the Gebbie Hearing Clinic at Syracuse University. In 1988 he became professor and director of audiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. In 2000 he established AUDIOLOGY INCORPORATED to develop improved hearing tests. Dr. Margolis has over 120 publications in scientific and clinical journals and textbooks. His research has focused on development of methods for evaluating disorders of hearing. He has been awarded research grants from the Deafness Research Foundation, NATO Division of Scientific Affairs, and the National Institutes of Health. He has served as president of the Minnesota Academy of Audiology, the International Hearing Foundation, and the Minneapolis-University Rotary Club. He has been awarded the Honors of the Association by the Minnesota Academy of Audiology, the Humanitarian Award by the American Academy of Audiology, the Editor's Award by the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, the Rotarian of the Year Award by the Minneapolis-University Rotary Club, the Larry Mauldin Award for Excellence in Education in Audiology, an Honorary Membership by the Vitacura Rotary Club (Santiago, Chile), and the James Jerger Career Research Award by the American Academy of Audiology.

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