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Can We ‘Cure’ Deafness and Blindness? Should We?

Sunday, June 2, 2019
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Actor Marlee Matlin joins groundbreaking researchers in deafness and for a wide-ranging discussion of cutting-edge research and how it will affect lives. Recent breakthroughs in vision and hearing mean many forms of blindness and deafness may soon be reversible. This will not be greeted with universal acclaim. Deafness is not just a disability; it is a culture with its own language and history. For many in that community ‘cure’ equates to cultural genocide. With blindness, the issues are different, but just as difficult. Will a brain that learned to navigate without sight suddenly be able to make sense of visual signals? Join a vibrant discussion of cutting-edge technology and the lives it will impact.

Presented in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society. 

The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Emily SenayPhysician Journalist

Emily Senay is a physician, medical and public health educator, broadcast journalist, and author. She is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a clinician in the World Trade Center Health Program in New York City.

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E.J. ChichilniskyNeuroscientist

E.J. Chichilnisky is the John R. Adler Professor of Neurosurgery, and Professor of Ophthalmology, at Stanford University, where he has worked since 2013 after 15 years at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

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Marlee MatlinActor, Author, Advocate

Marlee Matlin’s first film Children of a Lesser God garnered her the Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21 she became the youngest recipient and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for a film debut.

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Jim HudspethBiophysicist

Jim Hudspeth conducts research on hair cells, the sensory receptors of the inner ear. He and his colleagues are especially interested in the active process that sensitizes the ear, sharpens its frequency selectivity, and broadens its dynamic range. They also investigate the replacement of hair cells as a potential therapy for hearing loss.

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Daniel KishPerceptual Navigation Specialist

Daniel Kish has been an innovator in neuroscience since he learned to walk. After losing both eyes to retinal cancer by the age of 13 months, he spontaneously began to echolocate by clicking his tongue on the roof of his mouth and listening to the echoes from the environment around him to navigate.

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