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New Chair of Audiology, Speech Pathology Lays Out Vision for Department

amlani-amynAmyn Amlani, Ph.D., wants to know why people don’t adopt amplification devices to overcome their hearing difficulties — even when it would greatly improve their lives.

It is a question he has spent years researching — and one he regards as his calling.

“We know this technology is important because hearing loss leads to social isolation, which can lead to depression, which can lead to obesity. Recent research also shows that if untreated, lack of hearing stimulation (from hearing loss) to the brain can lead to cognitive decline and dementia,” he said. “All of this shows that our hearing plays a vital role in our health and well-being.”

Amlani joined UAMS in July 2016 as the new chair of the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, which is operated as a consortium between UAMS and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).

The department, part of UAMS’ College of Health Professions and UALR’s College of Education and Health Professions, offers a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D) degree and three degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders — Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.).

They are programs that Amlani is determined to transform into Top 25 ones in the next five years.

“We want to be one of the leading institutions when it comes to looking at alternative ways to practice both in audiology and speech pathology. We also want to be on the forefront of the next generation of education,” he said, adding that the department already has great faculty and institutional infrastructure in place to realize his vision.

The partnership between UAMS and UALR offers students varied learning opportunities, he said.

“Because we’re at an academic health center, our students have the opportunity to have conversations with physicians and take classes with them. They can take pharmacology and public health courses to further expand their health care horizons,” he said.

“At UALR, our students have the opportunity to take business classes to help prepare them for private practice, while audiology students can take engineering courses to help them better understand what the technology is doing.”

These are tremendous opportunities that many other institutions simply can’t offer, and the program needs to capitalize on them, he said.

“I also really want to focus on providing our students with plenty of research opportunities,” he said, adding that he would be seeking a variety of funding options, including corporate sponsors, to support such research.

Amlani comes to UAMS from the University of North Texas, where he was first an assistant professor, then an associate professor, in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. He previously worked as an assistant professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

His lab, the Hearing Aid Technologies Lab, formerly housed at the University of North Texas, is being moved to the UAMS campus. It will be a mixed-use space with room for research, clinical operations and for students to practice skills.

Originally from Mesquite, Texas, Amlani received his doctorate at Michigan State University. He has a master’s degree in audiology from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from the University of the Pacific.

He and his wife, Alicia, have three children.

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