Prestigious global award highlights strength of scientific research
Monday, 28 July 2003
Australian Professor Graeme Clark AO, whose pioneering research led to the development of the multi-channel cochlear implant, has become an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine at an award ceremony in London.
Chosen as one of a select group of eminent scientists and doctors to be awarded the prestigious fellowship, Professor Clark joins the ranks of acclaimed scientists Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, and a number of Nobel Laureates, who have also distinguished themselves in the service of science and medicine.
Commenting on the award, Professor Clark said, it is a great honour to receive this prestigious fellowship as it highlights the global quality of Australia’s scientific research and development.
“This award will further enhance Australia’s growing international reputation in the field of scientific research, and the profile should help generate future investment from around the world. We need to take advantage of every opportunity to build centres of excellence in Australia if we are to create a healthy future for scientific research in this country,” Professor Clark said.
“The award also recognises that Applied Bionics and Biomaterials is an important new discipline where Australia is a leading player internationally.”
The timing of the award coincides with the recent launch of the Australian Biotech Alliance, created by Premiers Steve Bracks, Peter Beattie and Bob Carr. This movement will ensure the three states work together to build on Australia's biotech industry.
Commenting on the award, Premier Steve Bracks said, Professor Clark’s pioneering research and development of the cochlear implant has improved the quality of life of thousands of people worldwide, and has placed Australia’s biotech industry centre stage.
“The Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Society of Medicine has been received by some of the most eminent scientists of the past 200 years, whose discoveries and work have proved to be major advances in human health. I am delighted that Professor Clark’s pioneering work, and that of Melbourne’s Bionic Ear Institute, has been recognised as such an advance.”
The combined Australian biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry employs around 30,000 people, turns over around $12 billion, and spends $450 million a year on research and development.
Other Honorary Fellows, include former Nobel Chemistry Prize winner Lord Ernest Rutherford, who split the atom in 1917; Dr Edward Jenner, who discovered the smallpox vaccination; and Albert Schweitzer, the medical missionary who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
Lord Howard Florey, who was credited with developing penicillin, was also an Honorary Fellow, along with Dr Patrick Manson, who convinced the medical profession that mosquitoes spread malaria.
Professor Clark is the foundation Professor of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne and is Director of the world-leading Bionic Ear Institute. The pioneering work of his university department led to the first research multi-channel ‘bionic ear’ being ‘switched on’ in 1978 and to the first Nucleus cochlear implant in 1982.
Professor Clark’s Fellowship coincides with the announcement two weeks ago in Japan of the 50,000th person to receive a Cochlear Limited implant. Recipients in 120 countries are now receiving the benefits of this life-changing invention.