Graeme Clark AC, Lasker Laureate

Citation for the award of the 1997 Sir William Upjohn Medal

Graeme Clark led the research that resulted in the first clinically approved multiple-channel cochlear implant, providing speech understanding in profoundly deaf people. His basic research was also crucial in establishing this could be achieved safely, including a minimal risk of meningitis. It thus became the first sensory-neural prosthesis to effectively bring electronic technology into functional relationship with the central nervous system and human consciousness. His research also established that the multiple-channel implant provided effective speech perception and language in profoundly deaf children, and it was thus the first major advance in helping these children communicate in the last 250 years. He also carried out the first bilateral and bimodal cochlear implants.

For his research, Graeme Clark has received numerous national and international awards and honours, including the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Fellow of the Royal Society, London, an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Society of Medicine, and an Honorary Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons. In 2007, he was awarded the Z├╝lch Prize from the Max Planck Society, Germany’s highest award in neuroscience, in 2010 he was awarded the Lister Medal, the most prestigious prize in the world for surgical science, and in 2011 the Zotterman medal from Nobel Institute for Neurophysiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and the CSL Howard Florey medal, Australia’s top award in medical science. In 2013 he was a co-recipient of the Lasker-De-Bakey Award for Clinical Medical Research (referred to as the American Nobel). In 2015 he received the Fritz J and Dolores H Russ Prize recognising a bioengineering achievement in widespread use that improves the human condition.