Bionic Ear Institute

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					                                                                                    AUTUMN NEWSLETTER 2009

                                                                                    Bionic Ear
Medical Bionics can improve health by replacing,
enhancing or monitoring damaged organs using
devices that interface with the human body.

                                                 The Institute Welcomes
                                                 Professor Peter Blamey
                                                 The Bionic Ear Institute has appointed
                                                 Professor Peter Blamey as its new Assistant
                                                 Director. Peter is a serial inventor, contributing
                                                 to 19 patent and patent application families
                                                 and 150 publications in peer-reviewed books
                                                 and journals. In 2007 he received the American
                                                 Academy of Audiology International Award
                                                 for significant and sustained contribution to
                                                 the field of Audiology and to hearing-impaired
                                                 adults and children world-wide.
Director’s                                       Glenis Cook interviews Peter about the bright

                                                 future of the Institute and what attracted him
                                                 to his new role.
                                                 Welcome to the Institute, Peter. Tell us a little
Our thoughts go out to those who lost loved      about your background in hearing science.            invention, through product development and
ones and property associated with the horrors                                                         marketing, to sales. I am continuing to do this
                                                 Thanks Glenis. It’s great to be associated
of Black Saturday. From these depths of                                                               through my hearing aid company, Australia
                                                 with the Institute again. I started my career
despair and destruction emerged wonderful                                                             Hears Pty Ltd, and now I will also be able
                                                 back in 1979 as part of Prof Graeme Clark’s
stories of personal courage and generosity                                                            to contribute to a Bionic Eye that will allow
                                                 team that developed the Bionic Ear. It was a
within the fire ravaged communities. This                                                             blind people to read, Intelligent Brain Implants
                                                 tremendously exciting time, with “World First
was followed in turn by the generosity of a                                                           to detect and suppress epileptic episodes
                                                 Events” on a regular basis, such as the first
nation. While many scars will take years to                                                           before they become dangerous, and targeted
                                                 multichannel implant operation, the first patient
heal, strong vibrant communities will emerge                                                          NanoMedicine for precise drug delivery. These
                                                 switch-on, the first open-set speech recognition
from the ashes.                                                                                       inspirational projects are already under way
                                                 without lip reading, and the first child patient.
                                                 I enjoyed it so much that I stayed for over          at the Institute, and the experience that the
The Bionic Ear Institute is undergoing its
                                                 20 years, learning fascinating new things            team has gained throughout the Bionic Ear
own transformation – using our 25 years of
                                                 about hearing aids, Bionic Ears, and language        development will help us to deliver these
research experience in cochlear implants as a
                                                 development, all contributing to improving the       technologies in record time. The other thing
platform to develop new medical bionic devices
                                                 quality of life of people with impaired hearing.     that has attracted me back to the Institute is
including a bionic eye, targeted drug delivery
                                                                                                      the chance to supervise research students
systems and intelligent brain implants. Like
                                                 What prompted the change after 20 years?             again. This is one of the things I have missed
any community, we bring important skills to
                                                                                                      most in my more commercial career.
the table but equally important are the skills   It was a great opportunity to start a company
brought by our collaborating colleagues          based on technology developed during my              Will you also continue your research to
– medical doctors, engineers and scientists.     research. Dynamic Hearing Pty Ltd was                improve the Bionic Ear?
                                                 formed in 2002 and now licenses technologies
We are confident of building a strong and                                                             Yes. I have joined the Music and Pitch project
                                                 that are used in millions of hearing aids and
vibrant research community devoted to                                                                 that has received great support from donors
                                                 headsets around the world. I am curious
developing new medical bionic devices for                                                             in recent years. This project aims to deliver
                                                 about everything, and can’t resist a challenge,
human health. In this, our Autumn Newsletter,                                                         improvements in music perception, understanding
                                                 so for a while I learned about business and
we focus on our important research developing                                                         of tone languages (such as Mandarin Chinese)
                                                 management as well as technology. It can be
Hi-Fi Bionic Ears that will improve speech                                                            that use voice pitch to convey word meanings,
                                                 fun visiting international companies in places
understanding in noisy environments and                                                               and understanding of speech in noise. These
                                                 like Paris, Copenhagen, and Zurich.
allow deaf patients to listen and enjoy music.                                                        are all areas where the current Bionic Ear
                                                 And what has brought you back to the                 sound processing can be improved, and some
Best wishes
                                                 Institute again?                                     of my recent hearing aid research will help.

                                                 Under its current Director, Rob Shepherd, the        Peter, we are delighted you have returned
                                                 Institute has developed a brilliant new vision       to the Institute. With your research expertise
                                                 and strategy for the future which inspired           and your commercial experience you will
                                                 me as soon as I heard about it. My greatest          be a valuable contributor to the Institute’s
                                                 satisfaction comes from taking solutions from        exciting future.
Visiting Professor
from France
The Bionic Ear electrically stimulates auditory     interested in how the auditory neurons are
neurons to restore auditory function to deaf        affected by deafness and how treatments
people. However, the auditory neurons               such as neurotrophins in combination with a
degenerate and die over time. We are                Bionic Ear prevent degeneration and shape the
examining ways to prevent auditory neuron           pattern of regenerating neurons. This interest
death naturally and promote regeneration by         was sparked in 2006 when Professor Pujol
combining drug treatment (neurotrophins)            first came to the Bionic Ear Institute to attend
with a Bionic Ear. In this study we are using       the 7th International Academic Conference of
the transmission electron microscope (TEM)          Immunobiology in Otorhinolaryngology, Bionics
to observe the ultrastructure of auditory           and Regeneration of the Ear. Following some
neurons at very high magnification (up to           enthusiastic discussions the ideas behind the
400,000 times) in order to examine the effects      research project and the collaboration were
of drug treatment and electrical stimulation on     finalised and subsequently funded. Professor
these neurons.                                      Pujol will visit Melbourne annually over the next
                                                    three years. This research has been funded
We have been fortunate to attract Emeritus
                                                    through a research contract with the US
Professor Remy Pujol from the University
                                                    National Institutes of Health.
of Montpellier, France, to collaborate with
us on this project. Professor Pujol has been
keenly interested in the development and
regeneration of auditory neurons in the cochlea
and has been active in this research field for           Emeritus Professor Remy Pujol working
over 40 years. More recently he has become                at a transmission electron microscope

Collier Charitable Fund Supports
Creative Minds Program
The Bionic Ear Institute aspires to capture the     Daphne Do is one of four students participating     Strong Government
imagination of Australia’s brightest students       in UROP at The Bionic Ear Institute.
and inspire the next generation of researchers
in a program that provides an exciting pathway
                                                    Daphne is currently completing her                  Support For Medical
                                                                                                        Bionics Conference
                                                    Science(Hons)/Engineering degree at The
from secondary school, through university and
                                                    University of Melbourne and working for the
into postgraduate research. Creative Minds
                                                    Bionic Ear Institute as part of UROP Daphne
is an educational and mentoring program at                                                              The Australian Government Department of
                                                    has a keen interest in science and chose to
the Bionic Ear Institute aimed at introducing                                                           Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
                                                    participate in this program to gain insight
students to a career in scientific research.                                                            was a major financial supporter of the Institute’s
                                                    into the world of research and gain some
Participation in Bio21 Cluster’s Undergraduate                                                          inaugural Medical Bionics Conference.
                                                    experience of working in a laboratory. She is
Research Opportunities Program (UROP) forms
                                                    working with Dr Andrew Wise on a project            The three day conference was held in Lorne
a part of the Creative Minds program. UROP is
                                                    examining the characteristics of auditory           last November. Over 140 delegates from
a scheme that allows talented undergraduate
                                                    neurons that are electrically activated by a        15 countries attended the conference including
students to experience first hand what it is like
                                                    Bionic Ear. In particular, Daphne is developing     many internationally eminent scientists.
working as a scientific researcher. The Creative
                                                    an analysis system and model to describe the
Minds program at The Bionic Ear Institute is
                                                    response of auditory neurons to different rates     The program reflected the multidisciplinary
generously funded by the Collier Charitable
                                                    of electrical stimulation. In addition, Daphne      approach required to develop implantable
Fund for 2009.
                                                    is making a valuable contribution to another        neural prostheses and was part of The Sir Mark
                                                    research project in which a miniaturised Bionic     Oliphant International Frontiers of Science
                                                    Ear has been developed and implemented              and Technology Conference Series. Leading
                                                    to study the effects of electrical stimulation      local and international scientists were invited
                                                    on the deaf cochlea. Daphne is completing           speakers. Professor Graeme Clark gave the
                                                    the Chemical Engineering component of               keynote lecture describing the development
                                                    her degree and will travel to the UK on an          of medical bionic devices through to their
                                                    exchange program for one year.                      clinical application. He used his work on the
                                                                                                        development of the cochlear implant as an
                                                    We thank the Collier Charitable Fund for            example of this journey.
                                                    funding the innovative Creative Minds program.
                                                                                                        Our partners and sponsors were integral to the
                                                                                                        success of the conference. Our conference
                                                                                                        supporters included the Australian Academy of
                                                                                                        Science, the Australian Academy of Technological
                                                                                                        Sciences and Engineering, MiniFAB, NICTA,
                                                    Daphne Do                                           the School of Engineering at the University of
                                                    Creative Minds student, Daphne Do                   Melbourne and the Hearing CRC.
                                                                                      AUTUMN NEWSLETTER 2009

“Travelling Wave”
sound processor being evaluated
for cochlear implant recipients
The “Travelling Wave” sound processing
strategy is a sound enhancement algorithm
that can be used in any cochlear implant
processor. The term “travelling wave” refers to
the very small delays that some sounds have
as they travel through the normal inner ear
or cochlear.                                                                                                                            E
As we all know, sounds are carried by waves
that travel through the air and enter our ear                                    A
through the ear canal (labelled A). The sound                                                           B     C
waves vibrate the ear drum (B) and are                                                                                           D
transmitted to the cochlea (D) by the tiny bones
called the “ossicles” (C). The cochlea is filled
with fluid, and the movement of the ossicles
generates a new “travelling wave” that moves
around the cochlear spiral from the larger basal
end to the smaller apical end.
As it travels from base to apex in a normal ear,
                                                   This new sound processing feature was                noisy environments has been observed.
the wave causes thousands of hair cells to
                                                   developed and evaluated at the Bionic Ear            Vowels appear to be perceived more clearly.
move and excite thousands of nerve cells (E)
                                                   Institute as part of Daniel Taft’s PhD, supervised
that then carry hearing sensations to the brain.                                                        An evaluation agreement has been signed with
                                                   by Dr David Grayden and Professor Anthony
The wave takes about 1/100 of a second to                                                               Cochlear Ltd to enable them to independently
                                                   Burkitt. Thirteen cochlear implant recipients
travel from one end of the cochlea to the other.                                                        evaluate the algorithm, with a view towards
                                                   assisting us in our research, using this sound
                                                                                                        possible incorporation into their cochlear
The “Travelling Wave” sound processor              processing feature, have been assessed to
                                                                                                        implant system.
produces a similar sequence of nerve               date. Results are encouraging; an improvement
excitation from - base to apex of the              in speech understanding for both quiet and
cochlea - for cochlear implant recipients.

                                                   hearing devices restore the ability to               influence of acoustic, electric and visual
                                                   understand speech remarkably well, music             cues on streaming ability. The research may
                                                   perception and speech recognition in noisy           lead to improvement in cochlear implant
                                                   environments are still problematic for most          sound processor strategies to enhance
                                                   users. These problems need to be addressed,          music appreciation.
                                                   as they greatly impair the well-being and
                                                                                                        As an experienced researcher, Dr Marozeau
                                                   productivity of people with impaired hearing.
                                                                                                        plays a leading role at the Institute in the
                                                   While listening to music, it is possible for         area of cochlear implant speech processing.
                                                   people with normal hearing to hear the               Dr Marozeau completed his PhD at the
                                                   melody played by each instrument separately.         Institute for Music/Acoustic Research and
                                                   This phenomenon is called auditory stream            Coordination (IRCAM, Paris). He was then a
                                                   segregation and is mainly based on the               research associate at the Speech Language
Dr Jeremy Marozeau
                                                   ability to group different streams according         Pathology and Audiology Department of

Bringing Music
                                                   to their perceptual differences, but can be          Northeastern University, Boston, working on a
                                                   enhanced by visual cues. For example, a              study dedicated to modelling the perception of
                                                   listener is able to focus his auditory attention     loudness in hearing impaired listeners with one

to Bionic Ears                                     to different concurrent speakers with the help
                                                   of lip reading. Classical music aficionados will
                                                                                                        ear with a cochlear implant and the other with
                                                                                                        a hearing aid.
                                                   enhance their perception of a live performance
The Bionic Ear Institute’s Research Fellow,                                                             From an early age Dr Marozeau has had a
                                                   by reading the score.
Dr Jeremy Marozeau, is one of the principal                                                             passion for music, playing the piano and the
investigators of the Music and Pitch research      A hearing impairment will not only reduce the        guitar from the age of ten. He now plays the
project. He is running psychoacoustic              loudness of sounds, it will also decrease the        double bass in jazz bands and has enjoyed
experiments to explore different techniques for    perceptual differences between sounds. This          playing in many gigs around the world.
the processing of music in cochlear implants.      will affect the ability of people with impaired
With this knowledge he hopes to develop new                                                             Generous support for this project has been
                                                   hearing to segregate auditory streams, and
strategies dedicated to help restore music                                                              provided by The Jack Brockhoff Foundation;
                                                   therefore weaken their intelligibility of the
appreciation to deaf ears.                                                                              Goldman Sachs JBWere Foundation, Soma
                                                   speech in noise and music appreciation.
                                                                                                        Health Pty Ltd; Mr Robert Albert AO RFD RD;
Cochlear implants, are commonly believed           This project will try to restore auditory stream     Miss Betty Amsden OAM; Bruce Parncutt &
to be able to fully restore hearing abilities,     segregation ability in people with hearing           Robin Campbell; Winnifred Grassick Memorial
much like a pair of glasses restores vision.       impairment. Psychophysics experiments and            Fund managed by Trust as Trustee.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although      EEG measures will be conducted to assess the
John loves                                                                                                                 CWA
                                                                                                                           Thanksgiving Fund
a challenge                                                                                                                to help the Institute
In February John Nelson and fellow Rotarian,                                                           We are most grateful to the members of the
John Flower, commenced an epic 4,000 km                                                                highly respected Country Women’s Association
journey through New Zealand’s North and                                                                of Victoria (CWA) who have chosen the Institute
South Islands. They are stopping at 30 Rotary                                                          as their charity partner for their Thanksgiving
clubs on route to raise funds and promote                                                              Fund for one year. We will be working with the
research to improve the Bionic Ear.                                                                    CWA State Council to help generate fundraising
                                                                                                       initiatives and promote The Bionic Ear Institute’s
In 2003 John Nelson contracted meningcoccal
                                                                                                       work to the wider community.
septicaemia which resulted in both of his
legs being amputated. After only 18 months                                                             A major luncheon fundraiser to launch the
of rehabilitation and with the assistance of                                                           2009 Thanksgiving Fund is being held at Zinc,
prosthetic legs, John and Ted Lowe rode down                                                           Federation Square, Melbourne on Wednesday
the West Coast of Australia raising $45,000 for                                                        15 July. Guest speakers are the Institute’s
the Institute. In August 2006, they rode 4,050                                                         Assistant Director, Professor Peter Blamey
km from Mt Isa to Bairnsdale raising $33,000.                                                          and Kevin Murfitt, Chair of Vision Australia.
                                                                                                       Tickets are $90 each or $900 for a table of 10.
We wish both Johns a wonderful and safe
                                                                                                       All supporters of the Institute are invited to
journey in beautiful New Zealand.
                                                                                                       attend. For more details please contact
For more information on their three month                                                              Glenis Cook on 03 9667 7500.
journey in New Zealand visit our website

                                                    Teeing off to
                                                    raise funds for
                                                    the Institute
                                                    In October over 60 players teed off at the
                                                    second Bionic Ear Institute Golf Day at the
                                                    Kingston Heath Golf Club in Cheltenham. Over
                                                    lunch Naomi Baulch provided guests with an
                                                    insight into what it is like being the mother of   Stonehenge Group - The winning team
                                                    15 month old twin boys with cochlear implants.
Alana (right) and her sister, Chloe in                                                                 participating teams and supporters, particularly
dance costume.                                      This event raised over $13,000 with the            hole sponsors, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and
                                                    generous support of our major sponsor,             the Commonwealth Bank; and refreshment

Dance school                                        Woodards Real Estate. We are grateful to the       cart sponsors Russell Kennedy and Zouki.

supports the
At two years of age Alana Brown was the third
youngest Australian to receive bilateral cochlear
implants. Now aged four, Alana is a pupil at
Dance Station in Lancefield and loves dancing.
                                                    Trivia night a
Wanting to help raise funds for the Institute’s
Music and Pitch research, Alana’s mother,
Donna, organised a fundraiser at Dance
                                                    great success
Station’s Christmas Concert in Kilmore.             Staff at Woodards Real Estate, a major partner     Thank you to the volunteers who worked
The fundraiser was generously supported by          of the Institute, organised a highly successful    tirelessly at Bunnings Northland in December
Natalie Philippe, the owner of Dance Station.       fundraising Trivia and Auction Night at the        donating the day’s proceeds, $1,812, to
                                                    Mulgrave Country Club. There were over             research to improve the Bionic Ear.
Dr Jeremy Marozeau, Research Fellow at
                                                    100 people in attendance and there was no
The Bionic Ear Institute, accepted a cheque for                                                        A special thank you to the Jamieson family
                                                    shortage of auctioneers to encourage high
$1,060 at the concert. Dr Marozeau explained                                                           who organise the Bunnings BBQ each year.
                                                    bidding for some fabulous auction items.
to the audience how research on this project
                                                    Professor Robert Shepherd accepted a giant         Please contact Kathleen or Glenis on 03 9667
will allow recipients, like Alana, to be able to
                                                    cheque for $13,657 on the night and expressed      7500 for ideas and help on hosting your own
one day hear dance music the way people
                                                    his gratitude to the Woodards team.                community fundraiser.
with normal hearing do.
Community support is vital to our research
programs and we thank the Brown family
and Natalie Philippe of Dance Station for                                                                        NUTTSHELL GRAPHICS

their enthusiasm and support.
                                                    Proudly Supported by Woodards Real Estate          Graphic Design by Nuttshell Graphics

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