More accolades for one of the people behind Australia’s most exciting medical invention, as Professor Graeme Clark receives the US Russ Prize for the cochlear implant.

The University of Melbourne has been given the award to recognise an outstanding achievement in bioengineering innovation that is in widespread use to improve health and well-being.

The US National Academy of Engineering and Ohio University announced the winners of the biennial prize of US $500,000, highlighting Professor Clark’s pioneering role in the development of the multi-channel cochlear implant for people with severe-to-profound deafness.

Professors Clark, Ingeborg and Irwin Hochmair from Austria and Michael Merzenich and Blake Wilson from the US are the pioneers in developing the multi-channel cochlear implant for giving speech understanding to severely-profoundly deaf adults and children.

Professor Clark, an honorary professor of Electrical Engineering in the Melbourne School of Engineering is also a lead researcher at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Neural Engineering, worked with a multi-disciplinary team at the University of Melbourne after he commenced cochlear implant research at the University of Sydney in 1967.

In the late nineteen-seventies, Professors Clark and Hochmair created prostheses that deployed multiple electrodes and routed particular sounds to different parts of the cochlear. These devices improved the ability of deaf people to understand speech.

Professor Clark also helped to create Cochlear Limited, the company that has dominated world markets for the last 30 years with over 320,000 patients implanted with the Australian device.

“I am honoured to have been given this award by the US National Academy of Engineering as it represents work that was developed through true multi-disciplinary teams in engineering and medicine to solve a major health issue.” Professor Clark said.

Professor Iven Mareels, Dean of the Melbourne School of Engineering said Professor Clark has made a significant difference to the lives of the severely and profoundly deaf.

“His work has inspired a whole generation of engineers to work in the development of new technologies to improve health,” he said.