Carlyle Group co-founder earmarks $15 million for Hopkins hearing center

David Rubenstein at Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Monika Flueckiger/World Economic Forum
David Rubenstein at Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
Monika Flueckiger/World Economic Forum

David Rubenstein, the son of a Baltimore postal worker who now lives in Bethesda, has donated $15 million to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for a hearing center.

The current patient care area for the otology clinic on the sixth floor of the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center was officially renamed this month as the David M. Rubenstein Hearing Center.

“The sense of hearing is a precious gift, and we need to step up our efforts to ensure we can help those who need it,” said Rubenstein, a philanthropist and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm based in Washington. He is a Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine trustee.

When patients complain of hearing loss, they generally receive hearing aids, “which are only amplifications to make the sound louder,” said Dr. Paul Fuchs, vice director for research in head and neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins medical school.

The Rubenstein center will be dedicated to researching what is behind the loss of hearing in individual patients to learn what treatment would be best. “There are lots of different forms that loss can take,” Fuchs said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, almost 25 percent of Americans ages 65 to 74, and 50 percent of people 75 years and older, have a disabling form of hearing loss. About 15 percent of Americans between 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss due to noise exposure.

“Research is at the core of medical advancements, and this holds true for the specialty of otolaryngology — head and neck surgery,” Dr. David Eisele, director of the otolaryngology department at the medical school, said in a statement. “Scientific breakthroughs that can be translated to benefit those who experience hearing loss are greatly needed, and we are highly motivated to make these advances with the possibilities afforded by this generous gift.”

Rubenstein’s $15 million gift will be given to the medical school over a five-year period. Two-thirds of the gift will be used for an endowment for the center and the remaining one-third will cover operating expenses for a variety of research programs, Fuchs said.

Rubenstein’s gift to Johns Hopkins is part of an effort to raise $4.5 billion to support students, faculty, advances in research and clinical care and interdisciplinary solutions at both The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine. To date, $3.2 billion has been committed.

In January 2012, Rubenstein donated $7.5 million to the National Park Service for repairs to the Washington Monument. The structure had been damaged when the area was rocked by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake during the previous summer.

At that time, he told Washington Jewish Week, “Philanthropy and public service have always been important to Jewish people. I have had many good role models through my life and hope that my giving will similarly inspire others to be involved in their communities and causes that are important to them.”

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