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Professor Graeme Clark
, 2000

by Peter Wegner

etching on paper (sheet: 39.7 cm x 53.6 cm, image: 20.5 cm x 22.2 cm)

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Graeme Clark AC (b. 1935) is Laureate Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne and the Director of the Bionic Ear Institute. Clark made it possible for thousands of profoundly deaf people to hear when he launched the cochlear implant in 1978. The possibility of using an electrical device to stimulate the nerves inside the inner ear to produce hearing had been pursued sporadically by researchers since the 18th century. Clark has said that he discovered how to insert an electrode into the inner ear while studying shells on the beach; it took him and his team just 12 years to develop the first device that could do this successfully. Nicknamed the 'Bionic Ear', it remains the world leader in its field. Research and refinement of the cochlear implant continue, and Clark has also developed other hearing devices, in pursuit of what has been called one of the major medical advances of our time.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2002
Accession number: 2002.58.3