Duke scientist's contribution helps deaf children hear

September 15, 2013 

Thanks to a Duke University scientist and two others – one from Australia and another from Austria – cochlear implants have helped children who might otherwise have grown up deaf and many adults to hear. Blake Wilson’s contribution to the implants was considerable: He developed a system that allowed patients to better understand words and sentences. Prior to Wilson’s work, most patients needed “visual cues” to understand speaking.

The Lasker Foundation, which has awarded the three scientists its Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, reports that 320,000 people around the world have received cochlear devices, and that children who get them at the ages of 1 or 2 often hear well enough to attend regular school.

Wilson worked for RTI International and now is a multi-assignment professor at Duke, where he is co-director of the Duke Hearing Center. And Duke is pretty proud of him, noting in a release about his award that many people who have won the Lasker also wind up with a Nobel Prize. Certainly the parents of those children who have been helped by his invention would believe him a miracle worker worthy of a Nobel.

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