Professor Graeme Clark honoured with Lasker Award

12 September, 2013

Professor Graeme Clark (Emeritus, University of Melbourne), inventor of the multichannel cochlear implant, has been honoured with a prestigious 2013 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.


Inspired by his father’s own hearing loss and despite scepticism by many in the medical community at the time, Professor Clark was determined as a young man to develop a technology that could bring sound to people with severe and profound hearing loss.

In 1978, after years of research at the University of Melbourne, Professor Clark implanted the first ever multichannel cochlear implant into Rod Saunders, who had a profound hearing loss. The device was switched on weeks later, allowing Rod to hear for the first time in many years.


Professor Graeme Clark
Professor Graeme Clark,
Emeritus, University of Melbourne

That early research team evolved over time and eventually became what is known today as Cochlear Limited, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world now have one of Cochlear’s hearing products. Professor Clark continues his pioneering work at the University of Melbourne.

“To make all this happen, Professor Clark brought together a unique team from various scientific and engineering disciplines and created a device that is a true landmark in medical history,” said Dr Chris Roberts, CEO of Cochlear Limited. “It has transformed the lives of people with hearing loss of all ages. We are proud to be associated with Professor Clark, who thoroughly deserves this recognition.”

The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award is presented by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing biomedical research to relieve human suffering and improve health and well-being.

Professor Clark has received numerous awards for his pioneering research, including:

  • Officer of the Order of Australia (1983)
  • Clunies Ross National Science and Technology award (1993)
  • Sir William Upjohn medal from the University of Melbourne (1997)
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Science (2004)
  • Companion of the Order of Australia (2004)
  • International Speech Communication Association Medal (2005)
  • Zülch Prize from the Max Planck Society (2007)
  • Otto Schmitt award from the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering (2009)
  • Lister Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, London (2010)
  • Zotterman medal from the Nobel Institute for Neurophysiology, Karolinska Institutet (2011)
  • CSL Florey Medal from the Australian Medical Research Institute (2011)

Joining Professor Clark in receiving the award were two other scientists who have both contributed to the development of cochlear implant technology, Ingeborg Hochmair (Med-el, Innsbruck) and Blake S Wilson (Duke University, NC, USA).

Media contacts

Mr Piers Shervington, Senior Corporate Communications Manager
Tel: +61 (0)2 9428 6555


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