A Beckenham student is one of just 14 across the country to be awarded a revered medical research grant.

Edmund Phillips, 20, has been given £1,600 for his project studying how Zebrafish repair their hair cells, which are used for hearing.

Mr Phillips, a medical neuroscience undergraduate at the University of Sussex, hopes his findings will lead to a better understanding of the issues faced by humans and pave the way for new treatments.

He said hearing “brings richness to life’s great moments” and believes the new approach presents a good opportunity to learn more about recovery.

He added: “For many people we need a much better understanding of how the ear works and I believe that research is helping to explain the fragility of experiencing sound.

“Research has already demonstrated its potential to make a difference for life and health, only this year we saw Joanne Milne hear for the first time and that was really moving so imagine what more we can achieve with more research.”

The money was awarded by Action on Hearing Loss as part of a summer scheme, set up by the charity to increase the number of scientists working towards finding a cure for deafness and other hearing problems.

The organisation says the number of people across the UK who are affected now stands at 10 million and is expected to rise by 50 per cent in the next two decades – which would put it in the top 10 conditions.

However, research into hearing problems is reportedly largely underfunded, with just £1.34 spent per person relative to £14.21 for sight, and £21.31 for diabetes.

Watch Joanne Milne, referenced by Mr Edmunds, hear for the first time below: