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Prestigious Lasker~DeBakey Award in Clinical Medical Research Helps the NIDCD Celebrate Its 25th Anniversary:
Award Goes to NIDCD-Supported Scientists for Development of the Cochlear Implant

Albert and Marly Lasker Foundation Logo

The NIDCD’s 25th anniversary celebrations took on an added luster starting in September when it was announced that the 2013 Lasker~DeBakey Award in Clinical Medical Research was awarded to two NIDCD grantees for their contributions to the development of the modern cochlear implant.

Graeme M. Clark, at the University of Melbourne, who was funded during the years when the NIDCD and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) were combined, and Blake S. Wilson, at Duke University, whose funding was from the NIDCD, received the award along with Ingeborg Hochmair, at MED-EL (Austria). The Lasker Award is often considered as an early indicator of a future Nobel Prize. Since the first Lasker Award was presented in 1946, 83 recipients have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes for their scientific accomplishments.

A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that provides a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. In the award announcement, the Lasker Foundation lauded the scientists for creating “an apparatus that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Their work has, for the first time, substantially restored a human sense with a medical intervention.”

The NIDCD’s director, James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., adds that “throughout our 25-year history, the NIDCD has supported research to understand the basic underpinnings of how we hear, as well as technological advances to bring devices to those who can benefit from them the most. The cochlear implant is one of the most groundbreaking biomedical achievements of the past 30 years. We are honored to have supported these remarkable scientists, and we applaud them for their perseverance and innovation.”

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