Skip to main content

If you would like to participate in a cochlear implant study at UNC Health, please email

“ As a mature woman, taking part in research studies is one way to contribute to diversity and inclusion in medicine. Knowing that my input and participation in studies may lead to the development of better services for people with disabilities is a way for me to give back. Being a part of UNC audiology and CI research has allowed me to fulfill my goal of educating and advocating for the need of more women and minorities to participate in research studies and trials.” – Michele Randolph


Pediatric Implant Research participant “I’m in the research study cause I’m deaf in the right ear and I got a cochlear implant 2 years after we found out I’m deaf. I wanted to see how it was like to hear in both ears. But now my cochlear implant sounds almost the same as the left. I really like to know that I am helping people cause I got a cochlear [implant]. If I can, then everyone can. Go cochlear champs!” – Pediatric clinical research participant



I decided to participate in [a] research study because I wanted to be able to help others to first make the decision to have the cochlear [implant] and also to let others know that it can make a big, big difference in theirAdult Cochlear Implant Research participant lives. I also think that being in this study has helped me personally as well because I believe I am being thoroughly tested and treated at every angle so that others can be helped.

The implant has made such a big difference in my quality of life. Being able to hear so much better has made me and my husband, family, and friends much happier. I am hearing things that I haven’t heard in a long, long time. – Adult clinical research participant


My husband started [losing] his hearing about 30 years ago and started wearing a hearing aid 20+ years ago. When we met, he already had a profound hearing loss and the hearing aid he wore was out of date. We upgraded the hearing aid and that helped for several years. About a year and a half ago, he again was having difficulty hearing. At this point, we were told hearing aids were no longer going to help and we were referred to Dr. Brown for a consult for cochlear implants.

Cochlear implant research testimonial - UNC HealthWhen we were told he would be a good candidate for cochlear implants, we were asked if he wanted to participate in a study that could potentially help other new implant patients. Being in the nursing field myself for 31 years, I was on board with him being a part of this study, and after a brief discussion, he was too on board. We felt not only would this help future implant recipients, but if he was lucky enough, it may help him too.

Fast forward 1+ years post 1st implant (he is a [bilateral] implant patient), Victor has gone from about 20% hearing to 80%+ hearing. He is starting to emerge from the isolating shell he surrounded himself in. He is becoming more social and doing things on his own. For many years, he had to rely on other ears to assist him in most daily tasks. He now gets excited that he can do simple things without my ears, like getting an oil change and being able to have conversations with his mechanic. To normal hearing people, this may seem silly but for him, it has been life changing, as it has opened up his world from the silence he was living in.

We have even started cruising, and he starts up conversations with other passengers. This of course has made my quality of life much better as well; we can enjoy much more together. Simple conversations have become easier, and there is less misunderstanding or “guessing” in our conversations. I was also able to participate in the study [as a normal-hearing control], which was a big “eye opener” for a normal hearing person as it simulated what a cochlear implant patient “hears”. Definitely helped me understand how Victor hears and gave me a little more patience with him.

Thank you UNC Audiology for everything you have done for us.

-Victor Granados and Michele Wenger


I love being a part of the UNC CI research program because it helps me to hear better with my new “Ear”.   I now hearChildren's Cochlear Implant Research Testimonial - UNC Health better because I have two cochlear implants.  When I go into the booth, I get to hit the button to tell the doctor I can hear the sound.  I like repeating the words they play in the booth.  This helps my doctors know that my ears are working well, and they help me hear better each time.

The part I love the most about the Research Program is that I am helping other kids who have Cochlear Implants to hear better too!  Thank you, UNC Chapel Hill CI Research Program team!


In February 2013, I suddenly lost the hearing in my right ear. The loss was accompanied by extreme vertigo. No cause for the loss was ever determined. Until that time I had been blessed with excellent hearing. The loss and accompanying side effects were devastating. UNC Cochlear Implant Patient Testimonial The otolaryngology group [where I live] tried all the known strategies to recover my hearing. Unfortunately, nothing worked. I was offered assistive devices, such as [Contralateral Routing of the Signal (CROS)] hearing aids, but they were not effective.Following the loss, I began researching the problem of single-sided deafness and learned that, in Europe, individuals with a similar hearing loss were benefiting from the use of cochlear implants. My reading led me to learn about Craig Buchman, a cochlear implant surgeon at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I contacted Dr. Buchman’s office and, in July 2014, I was able to arrange an appointment. Based on his evaluation, he suggested that I might qualify for a clinical trial aimed at evaluating the use of cochlear implants for individuals with single-sided hearing loss. Dr. Buchman arranged for me to meet Meg Dillon, the audiologist that was leading this study. That meeting, and my acceptance into the study, changed my life!!Meg and her team were amazing. They immediately made me feel comfortable and confident. I was given tremendous support in the process of rehabilitation. I spent many hours with Meg and Meredith Anderson Rooth, as they quantified the results of the implant. They were passionate about this work. But, just as important, they were sincerely interested helping me. I will never forget their kindness and compassion.The results of this trial led the FDA to approve cochlear implants for the treatment of single-sided deafness. I can personally attest to the benefits! I cannot imagine how much different my life would be without this device. I continue to participate in follow-up studies with Dr. Dillon and her team. They have become part of my family. For that, I am truly blessed.

Hannah has been a bilateral cochlear implant listener since 2009. She is participating in a study investigating speechCochlear Implant Patient - UNC Health recognition and spatial hearing outcomes with place-based maps. In Hannah’s words: 

This research program is a great opportunity to help the doctors and research team at UNC. It was a fun experience because I was able to help learn how to help other kids and adults.I did this because I want to make sure that everyone has an equal chance in life. It was an interesting way to research, and I loved helping out people. The fun part was to test all the programs and be in the hearing booth.-Hannah

Hannah’s mother also participated as a normal-hearing control, listening to simulations of a cochlear implant. In her words:

Cochlear Implant Patient…From the very beginning of our family’s journey, there has always been students or other professionals involved in each appointment seeking to learn and help other children.…Hannah and I have participated in several studies and are happy to do so. Our participation not only benefits her but also future generations of kids and adults. Through these studies UNC is able to gain a better understanding of how children and adults with cochlear implants can have even better hearing experiences as the years progress.The most recent study…has been very beneficial in not only Hannah’s new mapping of her implants for better hearing, but also in my ability to hear and understand more of what it is like for her as a cochlear implant user.We jump at every opportunity we are given to further the research and understanding of hearing loss and cochlear implants…We love to help and again are so thankful for the UNC team of professionals who love and care enough to continue research programs.-Lisa, proud mom of Hannah


I was diagnosed with progressive sensorineural hearing loss 47 years ago, at age 28. I was aCochlear Implant Testimonial semiprofessional musician and singer at the time, but as my hearing loss progressed I gradually lost the ability to perform music, or even hear it in a recognizable way. As time passed I owned a succession of ever-more powerful and advanced hearing aids until eventually I could no longer understand speech. Ten years ago, with nothing left to lose, I decided on a cochlear implant. My first CI was a revelation; I understood speech almost immediately. Environmental sounds became normal in just a few weeks. My first CI was such a massive improvement that I signed up for my second the following year.The CI is a transformative technology that has, without exaggeration, given me back my marriage, my friends and my music. But while hearing with CIs seems fully normal to me almost always, I know their programming could still be improved and that UNC’s research team is hard at work doing that. So, I volunteered as a research subject. There are four reasons I’ve done this. First, I want to help Dr. Dillon and her team as they refine place-based mapping. I’m hopeful that these techniques will eventually become available for all CI patients, that acclimation to CIs will be accelerated and outcomes will improve for everyone. Second, the research sessions are not a burden; they’re a pleasure. I always learn something new, and interacting with the researchers is fascinating. Third, I’m hoping that as I recover my own sensation of music, the research team will learn how to help other musicians with CIs hear their music more fully and continue with their creative lives. And finally, I am deeply grateful for my own experience with CIs – surgically, clinically and in my everyday life, and this is a small way I can give something back.In order to further this work, my wife Janet and I created the Roy and Janet Smith Cochlear Implant Research Fund, administered by the UNC Health Foundation (#346109). Dr. Dillon tells me the fund is being put to good use.