Michael Merzenich, PhD Awarded Russ Prize by the National Academy of Engineering

Congratulations to Michael Merzenich, PhD on his being recognized with the Fritz A. and Doris H. Russ Prize awarded by the National Academy of Engineering! Dr. Merzenich was selected based upon his pioneering work as part of a UCSF team in developing and refining the multi-channel cochlear implant. Dr. Merzenich’s career focus on cochlear implantation began with a collaboration with Robin Michelson engineered by former UCSF Chancellor Dr. Frank Sooy back in the early 1970’s. Dr. Merzenich brought scientific rigor to the pioneering work that was being accomplished at the time. Of course, in doing this work Mike collaborated with many individuals within (and outside) the department including Patricia Leake, Christoph Schreiner, Robert Schindler, and many other researchers, faculty members, post doctoral students, residents, and medical students.

Dr. Merzenich’s work culminated in the commercial dissemination of a multi-channel cochlear implant produced by Advanced Bionics. The cochlear implant has been a god send to thousands of deaf patients and is a true miracle of engineering that, although highly accepted and proven now, was extremely controversial when Mike began his work in this field back in 1971.

The Russ Prize is the bioengineering profession’s highest honor. It is a biennial award recognizing a sentinel bioengineering advance that has major impact on improving the human condition. The 2015 award received by Professor Merzenich will be shared with Blake S. Wilson (Adjunct Professor at Duke University), Graeme M. Clark AC (Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne), and Erwin Hochmair, and Ingeborg J. Hochmair-Desoyer (co-founders of MED-EL Medical Electronics, GmBH).

Dr. Merzenich is currently a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.

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Dr. Merzenich's paper can be viewed here.