US Award for Australia's bionic ear pioneer

10 September
Graeme Clark and Kailan Sierra Davidson discuss cochlear implants at the Lasker Scholars' Breakfast (Source: Lasker Foundation)
Graeme Clark and Kailan Sierra Davidson discuss cochlear implants at the Lasker Scholars' Breakfast (Source: Lasker Foundation)

Professor Graeme Clark AC was awarded the 2013 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award by The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation in New York.  The Lasker-DeBakey Award honours investigators whose contributions have improved the clinical treatment of patients.

Professor Clark was awarded the prize for the development of the modern cochlear implant — a device that bestows hearing to individuals with profound deafness.

He shared the prize with other bionic ear pioneers, Ingeborg Hochmair of Austria and Blake Wilson of the United States.

“It is an honour to be named with two others, one from the USA and the other from Austria, for a defining involvement in the development of the modern Cochlear Implant.  It has been estimated that these have been implanted in approximately 360,000 severely-to-profoundly deaf people. This makes it the first device to restore a human sense.  I wish that staff and patients could all share in this award.  It has been a truly collaborative effort”, Professor Clark said.

Professor Clark and his team developed the world’s first multi-channel cochlear implant at the University of Melbourne during the 1970’s, with the first human implant procedure taking place in August 1978.

Professor Clark will accept the award at a ceremony in New York on 20 September.  Visit The Lasker Foundation website to learn more about the awards, view a video featuring the award recipients, and read Professor Clark’s essay that appears in October 2013 issue of Nature Medicine.

Other Australians who have been recognised by The Lasker Awards include Sir McFarlane Burnett (1952), Professor Don Metcalf (1993), Professor Barry Marshall (1995) and Professor Elizabeth Blackburn (2006).

Article source: ICT for Life Sciences Forum

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