Mechanical engineering student receives American Tinnitus Association award

Na Zhu, a Wayne State University College of Engineering student, has received the 2011 American Tinnitus Association Student Research Grant Program award. The program financially supports scientific studies that investigate and aim to find a cure for tinnitus.

Zhu, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Sean Wu, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is developing an innovative, 3-D computer-aided diagnostic system to pinpoint the exact locations of the tinnitus-related neural network activities in the brain’s auditory structure. This system will monitor changes in tinnitus-related neural network activities at the identified locations following noise exposure and through auditory cortex electrical stimulations. This will aid in determining the correlation in the locations where tinnitus-related neural network activities are most active.

Tinnitus is a phantom sound perception that occurs in the absence of external acoustic stimulations, and affects nearly 15 percent of adults and 33 percent of the elderly. Because of its complex nature and the lack of effective tools to measure and analyze neural network signals, little is known about tinnitus and treatment options are limited.

“Na Zhu received this $10,000 award from the American Tinnitus Association that is traditionally given to students in medical schools,” said Wu. “She was selected because her work aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the fundamental neural mechanisms underlying tinnitus. The results may lead to breakthrough treatments for this disease, and may also guide researchers and physicians in understanding the fundamental mechanisms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as other neurological disorders.”

Zhu is from Tianjin, China and lives in Detroit. She received her B.S. in automobile engineering from Tongji University in Shanghai, and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University.

Return to news