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King Saud University LectureFor the second time in two weeks, King Saud University is directing an event in which hearing disabilities are front and center. Canadian researcher Dr. Steven J. Aiken will be the guest speaker at the Saudi Otolaryngology Society Riyadh Meeting on Tuesday, January 10, in Arrayan Hospital's Eyed Hall.

Following a major World Health Organization conference in late December, Dr. Aiken, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University and a King Saud University consultant in audiology research, will deliver a speech entitled Understanding Hearing Aids and Speech Sounds”. The meeting will begin at 8:30 p.m.

“It’s something that will be useful or interesting for people in audiology,  eye-ear-throat people,” Dr. Aiken said of his talk, “maybe for people in the speech sciences  -- pathology and linguistics – and possibly for people doing something in biomedical engineering.”

At Dalhousie, a research-intensive university in Halifax, Dr. Aiken is an assistant professor in audiology, surgery and psychology. He also teaches auditory electrophysiology, hearing measurement and diagnostic audiology, and at age 38 is the President-Elect Canadian Academy of Audiology.

King Saud UniversityDr. Aiken would like to discuss some aspects of pediatric research in his speech, but case discussions are scheduled to follow his half hour presentation and he expects that time constraints will prevent him from doing so. The father of three, however, has a significant knowledge and appreciation for pediatric research since he was involved in childhood hearing disabilities early in his career.

“The time is quite short, so I’m trying to whittle the talk down to a manageable size,” he said. “I had something in there on filling needs for kids, but I’m not sure that I’ll be able to use it with the time, so it’s probably safer not to include it.”

He has fond memories of a year ago during his third visit to the Kingdom when he saw the heartwarming story of 18-month Palistinian girl Rawand Hurraizat unfold. Rawand's family overcame a series of adversities to provide her with a cochlear implant performed by a King Saud University surgical team.

“I didn’t actually see the surgery,” he said of the 90-minute operation, led by Dr. Abdulrahman A. Hagr, who served a one-year fellowship at Dalhousie University in 2004. “I saw her go up to the front where the Prince turned it on.”

And Dr. Aiken has an immense respect for the program that in the last seven years, guided by Dr. Hagr, has grown from a small, almost experimental operation, to one of the top five worldwide in terms of transplants annually. And the program’s leadership continued to ramp up the operation, establishing a plan to hire another 50 professionals.

“They are really committed to get things done,” Aiken said referring to King Saud University’s overall approach to education. “They country has the resources and it’s just a matter of them finding the people. I like the people and I want to do a good job for them.”

The Al-Rayan Hospital is located on Khurais Road, Exit No. 24.

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