IM this article to a friend!

December 13, 2003

Honorary doctorate awarded to cochlear bionic ear inventor

From: China Post, Taiwan - Dec 13, 2003

John Nowland, TAIPEI, Taiwan, Special to The China Post

Graeme Clark, laureate professor of the University of Melbourne and inventor of the cochlear bionic ear, was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering by Chung Yuan Christian University on Monday. The honorary award was conferred for his contribution to the treatment of deafness and commitment to Christian beliefs.

According to Stephen S.K. Hsiung, president of Chung Yuan Christian University, Clark has achieved worldwide fame in his unique contribution to society by his invention of the bionic ear. "His invention is considered the most important advance in the history of the treatment of profound deafness," he stated.

In nominating Clark for the honorary doctorate, Teng Jyh-tong, dean of the College of Engineering at Chung Yuan Christian University, explained that Clark's work has helped over 50,000 people worldwide to improve their hearing capabilities, and he has brought together people from different disciplines such as behavior and speech therapists to train patients.

In accepting the award, Clark said that he was honored to receive the honorary doctorate from Chung Yuan Christian University because their educational and scientific philosophy is not only one of striving for excellence, but respecting nature and humanity, and honoring god. Clark traced his steps in the development and production of bionic ears but warned that there is still a long way to go and that he would not rest until all deaf people can hear near normally.

As a child, Clark developed awareness of the problems of the deaf when his own father became deaf. He commenced basic research in 1967 to investigate whether a single or multiple channel electrode cochlear implant would be possible for the management of hearing loss. On August 1, 1978 the first bionic ear, using multi-channel electrode stimulation, was invented.

The bionic ear was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1982 and commercialized by Cochlear Limited in 1985. However, it wasn't until 1990 that a bionic ear suitable for children was approved. Since then the bionic ear has helped over 15,000 children from more than 50 countries to come out of their "prison of silence."

At the beginning, Clark said, he was told that his research goals would be impossible to achieve, however, through persistence he has proved doubters wrong. In the future, through the use of intelligent polymers, nanotechnology and tissue engineering, Clark hopes that one day all deaf people will hear and have what we all take for granted.

Copyright © 1999~2003 The China Post. All rights reserved.