On September 9th of this year, Plural author Dr. Blake Wilson was awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medicine Research Award for his pioneering efforts in cochlear implantation, along with Graeme Clark and Ingeborg Hochmair. Dr. Wilson was chosen to receive the award because he, “oversaw a giant leap forward in speech encoding for implants that ingeniously manipulated the timing and place of stimulation so as to minimize distortion and channel interaction.” 1
He is the Co-Director for the Duke Hearing Center and an adjunct professor for the university. He also is Chief Strategy Advisor for MED-EL Medical Electronics GmbH of Innsbruck, Austria and a Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in the Research Triangle Park, NC. He has been involved in the development of the cochlear implant (CI) for the past three decades and is the inventor of many of the signal processing strategies used with the present-day devices. His book Better Hearing with Cochlear Implants: Studies at Research Triangle Institute describes his and Dr. Michael Dorman’s research in more depth.
Current cochlear implants still have limitations in delivering speech signals but are able to distinguish speech in loud noise areas, as well as identify a speaker’s gender. Dr. Wilson and the other awardees contributions to the field have given 300,000 implant recipients the gift of hearing.
1. O’Donoghue, G. Cochlear Implants — Science, Serendipity, and Success. The New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 9, 2013, doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1310111