Professor Graeme Clark
Professor Graeme Clark was born in Australia in 1934. In middle school he was a very keen athlete especially in cricket as a batsman. When Graeme was a young boy his father went deaf which inspired him to want to help deaf people.
This is where he was inspired and has had this dream since the age of 10 years due to his experiences with his deaf father. To achieve his goal he left a specialist Ear, Nose and Throat practice in Melbourne in 1966 to study at the University of Sydney how the brain would respond to electrical stimulation for coding sound. He had the opportunity to continue this research when appointed as the Foundation Professor of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat surgery) at the University of Melbourne.
This was the first chair in Australia’s, and at 34 years of age Graeme was the youngest clinical professor in the country. He raised small amounts of money by speaking at luncheons organized by Rotary, Lions and Apex. Sir Reginald Ansett gave him his first large donation of $2000 to help his research.
He studied medicine at the University of Sydney; graduating MBBS with honours in 1957. In 1961 he arrived in Scotland to do further study and in the next year was awarded the Fellowship of the College. He then went to London to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. Returning to Australia in 1967 he became a partner in an Ear Nose and Throat practice in Melbourne. It was in that year that he started his original research into cochlear implants. He moved to Sydney and began research at the University of Sydney for the development of the bionic ear.
In 1970 Graeme Clark led the committee that established the Deafness Foundation of Victoria. This brought together all the schools and other people involved in the management of deaf children and adult
Major Scientific Works
Graeme Clark pioneered the development of the Bionic ear for deaf children and adults.
Professor Graeme Clark along with his team discovered for the first time that nerve cells in the inner ear can be made to respond back into the inner ear. They also discovered that nearly normal sound could be reproduced by sending fine patterns of nerve fibres through to the inner ear. His early research met much opposition from most scientists who said that it was impossible to reproduce the sound made by the brain with a small number of electrode wires in the inner ear, and that it could be dangerous.
In 1982 Graeme Clark led the surgical team at The Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital that implanted the first Cochlear Pty Limited Bionic Ear in six patients to see whether the industrially developed system would reproduce the results achieved by the University of Melbourne team