Old name, new purpose: why we’ve gone back to RNID

Dr Peter Santa Maria

Stanford University, USA

Dr Peter Santa Maria is a surgeon scientist born and raised in Perth, Australia. Along with his role as Associate Director of SPARK’s therapeutic translational program, he co-leads the Otoinnovation Lab and is Chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s Medical Device and Drugs Committee.  

He attended medical school at The University of Western Australia before undertaking his residency in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. He was the Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery fellow at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (2012), Western Australia before undertaking a three year instructorship at Stanford University in Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery (2015). He joined Stanford faculty in 2017.   

More about Peter’s work

Scientifically, Peter completed his PhD in tympanic membrane (ear drum) wound healing at The University of Western Australia (2012). His tympanic regenerative discovery was accelerated through the SPARK program at Stanford, winning the “Excellence in Stanford SPARK 2014” award, later partnering with Auration Biotech and Astellas pharmaceuticals, to launch clinical trials in 2020.

His research includes new devices and therapies for hearing loss. His lab has discovered new antimicrobial therapeutics that act on the most resistant bacterial infections.  

Developing a new approach to treating chronic middle ear infections

Read about Peter’s research project

Peter’s approaches to hearing research

What do you see as the most exciting breakthrough in hearing research in the last 10 years?

For me, and I’m a little biased, but it’s the potential translation of 2 hearing therapeutics in clinical trials. One is the tympanic membrane regeneration therapy and the other is a potential hair cell regeneration therapy. If either of them are successful it would represent first in class therapies for hearing. 

Why have you chosen to work in hearing research?

I see it as an incredibly interesting area of science with so many unmet medical needs. There is so much white space to make an impact. The impact of treatments is life changing and the patients are forever grateful.  

What do you hope your research will achieve? 

We think our new treatment will be a potential cure for chronic ear infections which affect over 300 million world wide. It would be the first antibitoic treatment developed specifically for chronic infections. 

What does RNID funding mean to you? 

Many academic funders are not willing to fund translational research, however given the large risk, industry is often not willing to take on early stage projects. RNID significantly allows that gap to be bridged increasing the likelihood for translational projects to make it into the clinic. 


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