• Programme: Horizon 2020, Call: SC1-BHC-02-2019
  • Funding amount: €6 million, of which €900,000 is for Bavaria
  • Funding period: 01/2020-12/2022
  • Coordinator: Dr Winfried Schlee, University Hospital Regensburg
  • Project number: 848261
  • Internet: www.uniti.tinnitusresearch.org 

A mysterious ringing in the ear - researchers on the trail of tinnitus

A humming, buzzing or ringing in the ears – we have all experienced this phenomenon at some time or other. But more than ten percent of the European population suffer permanently from a tormenting ringing in the ears: tinnitus. Although much progress has been made in treating the symptoms, the causes remain a mystery. The EU project UNITI aims to provide a calculation model that will recommend the optimum, personalised treatment approach for patients, based on specific parameters.

Individual phantom noises are still a mystery

Tinnitus is the perception of a phantom sound and the patient's reaction to it. The causes of these phantom noises can vary greatly: diseases of the inner ear and damage to the ear due to noise or stress, diseases of the nervous system or nervousness and overload disorders. And there is still no integrated systems approach to correlating the very individual symptoms to predict the response to treatment. There is also currently no medical consensus on the treatment of tinnitus. There is still no cure for tinnitus and it remains a scientific and clinical mystery.

Without a cure, the number of patients will double by 2050

Recent long-term studies show, however, that tinnitus is generally becoming increasingly common - especially with advancing age. The reasons for this are various. But if tinnitus research fails to find a cure by 2050, experts expect the number of patients to double by then.

The EU project UNITI (Unification of treatments and Interventions for Tinnitus patients) will analyse clinical, epidemiological, medical, genetic and audiological patient data. This will enable the consortium to identify predictable risk factors for different patient groups and then test their prognostic relevance in a randomised controlled trial (RCT). In an RCT, scientists subject different patient groups to a combination of therapies targeting the auditory and central nervous systems.

UNITI's predecessor project ESIT received an award from the EU Commission for its success

UNITI builds on the results of the EU project ESIT (funding period: 04/2017-03/2021), which, as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN), primarily serves to train young scientists in the field of tinnitus research. ESIT supports the overall ongoing development of personalised treatments for tinnitus in close collaboration with individual patients and patient groups in Europe and beyond. ESIT is, as yet, the most far-reaching pan-European initiative to investigate tinnitus.

"Large-scale epidemiological studies will provide new insights into the prevalence of tinnitus in different geographical regions, age groups and genders," explains Dr Winfried Schlee, coordinator of ESIT and UNITI at the University of Regensburg. "In addition, new approaches to data collection and analysis, such as through a tinnitus app and the development of a uniform, international database, will have a major impact on research into tinnitus and other chronic diseases. With extensive support from BayFOR, we have now been able to obtain funding for our second major EU project. The two projects amount to almost 10 million euros in total."

Because of this, ESIT recently received an award from the European Commission for their success. 


  • Intensive, specialist support in applications
  • Input on strategies and content for dissemination, data management, IP and exploitation
  • Initial funding via the BayIntAn funding programme
  • Grant preparation support
  • Cooperation with the Department for Research Coordination at the University of Regensburg



Dr Winfried Schlee

Dr Winfried Schlee
University Hospital Regensburg
Coordination of ESIT
Phone: +49 (0)941 9412096
Email: winfried.schlee@no-spam-pleasetinnitusresearch.org

Contact at BayFOR

Dr. Mikhail Antonkin

Dr. Mikhail Antonkin
Scientific Officer Health Research & Biotechnology
Phone: +49 911 50715-950
Email: antonkin@no-spam-pleasebayfor.org

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