Susan D Emmett

Susan D Emmett

Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

My research focuses on reducing hearing health disparities globally. I work with colleagues around the world to define the global burden of hearing loss and deepen our understanding of its social, economic, and health impact. We apply a public health approach that spans prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Fundamental to prevention is evaluating why hearing loss is so much more common in low-resource settings and investigating risk factors that are potentially modifiable. I have focused my prevention efforts on undernutrition, evaluating the contribution of early life malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies to risk of hearing loss in Nepal. We are currently expanding this work to the Bolivian Amazon.

Diagnosis of hearing loss in remote settings brings unique challenges, including scarcity of audiologists and otolaryngologists, need for portable equipment, and lack of screening programs to identify affected children. I am currently leading a PCORI (Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute)-funded community randomized trial with the Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome, Alaska to evaluate a new protocol for school hearing screening in 15 villages on the Bering Sea.  This study utilizes mobile health technology and telemedicine referral to identify previously undiagnosed hearing loss and efficiently connect Alaska Native children to care. The intervention has applicability across the state of Alaska, as well as in other remote, low-resource settings with a high prevalence of hearing loss and ear disease.

My research on treatment of hearing loss is focused on expanding access to cochlear implantation, a treatment for severe-to-profound hearing loss traditionally limited to high-resource settings. I have worked with collaborators in 14 countries to demonstrate that cochlear implantation can be a cost-effective treatment option in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. We are expanding these studies to other regions of the world. 

Selected Grants

Addressing Childhood Hearing Loss Disparities in an Alaska Native Population: A Community Randomized Trial (AD-1602-34571), PCORI

Research Training in Otolaryngology (5T32DC000027-25), NIDCD/NIH

Global Control of Micronutrient Deficiency (OPPGH 614), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Nutrition (AID-OAA-L-1-00006), USAID

Appointments and Affiliations

    Contact Information

    • Office Location: 40 Duke Medicine Circle, DUMC Box 3805, Durham, NC 27710
    • Office Phone: (919) 684-2426
    • Email Address:


    • Johns Hopkins Unversity, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2016
    • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2016
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2009
    • M.P.H. Johns Hopkins Unversity, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2014
    • M.D. Duke University School of Medicine, 2010
    • A.B. Princeton University, 2005

    Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

    • TED Fellowship. TED. 2017
    • Tilghman Traveling Fellowship. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 2016
    • Delta Omega. National Public Health Honor Society. 2015
    • Duane Sewell, MD Resident Award for Exemplary Professionalism and Humanitarianism. Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2015
    • Master of Public Health Capstone Award for Outstanding Achievement. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 2015
    • Resident Leadership Grant. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2015
    • Resident Research Award. American Otological Society. 2015
    • James Harrill, MD Resident Research Award. Triological Society. 2014
    • Paul S. Lietman Global Travel Grant. Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. 2013
    • Resident Leadership Grant. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2012
    • Alpha Omega Alpha. Honor Medical Society. 2010
    • Dean’s Recognition Award. Duke University School of Medicine. 2010
    • William G. Anlyan Senior Scholarship. Duke University School of Medicine. 2009
    • Cum Laude. Princeton University. 2005
    • Molecular Biology Senior Thesis Prize. Princeton University. 2005

    In the News

    Representative Publications

    • Borre, ED; Myers, ER; Dubno, JR; O'Donoghue, GM; Diab, MM; Emmett, SD; Saunders, JE; Der, C; McMahon, CM; Younis, D; Francis, HW; Tucci, DL; Wilson, BS; Ogbuoji, O; Schmidler, GDS, Development and validation of DeciBHAL-US: A novel microsimulation model of hearing loss across the lifespan in the United States., Eclinicalmedicine, vol 44 (2022) [10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101268] [abs].
    • Bailey, JE; Gurgol, C; Pan, E; Njie, S; Emmett, S; Gatwood, J; Gauthier, L; Rosas, LG; Kearney, SM; Robler, SK; Lawrence, RH; Margolis, KL; Osunkwo, I; Wilfley, D; Shah, VO, Early Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Experience With the Use of Telehealth to Address Disparities: Scoping Review., Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol 23 no. 12 (2021) [10.2196/28503] [abs].
    • Hashmi, SS; Izquierdo, JC; Emmett, SD; Linder, TE, Middle Cranial Fossa Approach: The Incudomalleolar Joint as a Reliable Landmark., Int Arch Otorhinolaryngol, vol 25 no. 3 (2021), pp. e392-e398 [10.1055/s-0040-1712105] [abs].
    • McMahon, CM; Nieman, CL; Thorne, PR; Emmett, SD; Bhutta, MF, The inaugural World Report on Hearing: From barriers to a platform for change., Clin Otolaryngol, vol 46 no. 3 (2021), pp. 459-463 [10.1111/coa.13756] [abs].
    • Borre, ED; Diab, MM; Ayer, A; Zhang, G; Emmett, SD; Tucci, DL; Wilson, BS; Kaalund, K; Ogbuoji, O; Sanders, GD, Evidence gaps in economic analyses of hearing healthcare: A systematic review., Eclinicalmedicine, vol 35 (2021) [10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100872] [abs].