Judith Gravel, PhD

Judith Gravel, PhD, one of the nation’s leading pediatric audiologists and early-intervention experts, passed away on December 31 after more than 2 years of valiantly battling cancer. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed her PhD at Vanderbilt in 1985, and then went on to a distinguished academic career that included positions at Columbia University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, City University of New York, and the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, she had served as the director of the Center for Childhood Communication at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she held the William P. Potsic Chair in Pediatric Otolaryngology and Childhood Communication.

Known for her influential publications and cutting-edge research, Dr Gravel excelled in the areas of pediatric assessment and management, with emphasis on behavioral and electrophysiologic assessment procedures. Always in demand as a lecturer and presenter, she helped educate thousands of professionals on early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI).

Dr Gravel’s career also had a notable impact on a large number of important policy decisions related to early hearing screening. As just one example, she was a member of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing that she chaired from 2003-2005, and her work influenced the recent 2007 JCIH Position Statement.

In 2008, Dr Gravel was awarded the Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Excellence at the National EHDI Conference, was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Academy of Audiology in Charlotte, and also received the 2008 Leadership Award at the 98th Annual Meeting of the League for the Hard of Hearing. In November, she was awarded the Honors of the Society from the American Speech Language Hearing Association for a lifetime of innovative clinical practice, insightful and rigorous research, creative administration, effective legislative activity, outstanding teaching and other distinguished professional contributions. In early December, she was honored with the Sylvan Stool Award from The Society of Ear Nose and Throat Advances in Children (SENTAC) for her innovative research in the area of otitis media in children.

Dr Gravel’s contributions were across the board—from peer-review publications to trade magazines; from huge conventions to small meetings, boardrooms, and classrooms; from explanations and conversations in hallways to grand rounds—as she devoted much of her life to sharing her wealth of knowledge about EHDI. Whether they know it or not, few in this field did not benefit from her work, and she leaves behind a legacy that will enrich the quality of life of children with hearing impairment worldwide.

A memorial has been established by Vanderbilt University in Dr Gravel’s memory. In lieu of flowers, Dr Gravel’s family requests that donations be made to: Judy Gravel Pediatric Audiology Fund, c/o The Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, 1215 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37240.