What We Do

At Hough Ear Institute (HEI), we’re working to restore hearing worldwide through research, teaching, and humanitarian efforts. What exactly does that mean? Here’s a breakdown:


Currently, the only treatment for hearing loss and tinnitus is through the use of hearing devices like hearing aids, cochlear implants, and others. (We even had a hand in developing some of them!) However, access to those devices is limited. Only 10% of the 430 million people worldwide with debilitating hearing loss (i.e. they need some sort of hearing rehabilitation) can get those devices. Many of the people without access also live in third world countries where resources for the hearing impaired are either minimal or nonexistent. Those left without help or hope are the ones who drive our team of doctors and research scientists to develop therapeutic answers to hearing loss and tinnitus. Currently, we are working on two medicines: NHPN-1010 (pronounced N-H-P-N- ten-ten), the hearing protection pill, and AOK-1 (pronounced A-O-K one), the hearing regeneration injection.
image of a hair cell under a microscope

A scanning electron micrograph of the hairs (stereocilia) of a hair cell which was regenerated by HEI’s therapeutic AOK-1 after noise-deafening. This major accomplishment appeared on the cover of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Molecular Therapy on May 2, 2018. (That’s our scientific version of being on the cover of Rolling Stone. )


HEI is committed to teaching and training the next generation of leading otologists both here in the United States and abroad. Much like patients, physicians in developing countries also have difficulty acquiring the training and resources necessary to treat those with debilitating hearing loss. HEI works to close that gap by teaching ear surgery techniques to physicians all over the world who would not otherwise have access to this kind of medical training. HEI is also committed to teaching everyone about the importance of hearing health and launched a Hearing Health Initiative to do just that. We offer hearing screenings and educational sessions to local schools, churches, community groups, etc. for free because we believe hearing health is essential for overall wellness.

Humanitarian Efforts

Our doctors travel all over the world to train doctors, treat patients, and assist communities in need of their professional knowledge. They also work with surgical and medical device manufacturers to supply much-needed equipment to hospitals and clinics in developing nations.

Current Research

We are currently studying four areas of otologic (ear) research:

  1. Noise-, blast-, and age-related hearing loss
  2. Treatments for damage done by a popular cancer drug
  3. Tinnitus (phantom ringing or buzzing in the ear)
  4. Inner ear hair cell regeneration (restoring natural hearing without the use of a device)

Using three therapeutic approaches:

  1. Antioxidants: Prevents cellular degradation after exposure to blast or loud noise
  2. Silencing RNA (si-RNA): Changes inner ear supporting cells into sensory hair cells essential for hearing
  3. Nanoparticles: Targeted delivery of therapeutic compounds to the inner ear
a doctor looking through a microscope

NHPN-1010 = HPN-07 + NAC

(Protection Pill)
  • Repairs nerve endings
  • Protects inner ear structure after blast or acoustic trauma
  • Treats tinnitus
  • Possible treatment for traumatic brain injury


(Regeneration Injection)
  • Regenerates lost and damaged hair cells
  • Restores natural hearing
  • siRNA nanoparticle therapeutic