Blake S. Wilson

Wilson

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

Prof. Wilson is the Director of the Duke Hearing Center and is an Adjunct or Consulting Professor in each of three departments at Duke: Surgery, Biomedical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has been involved in the development of the cochlear implant (CI) for four decades and is the inventor of many of the signal processing strategies used with the present-day CIs. One of his papers, in the journal Nature, is the most highly cited publication in the principal field of CIs. He also has become keenly interested in global hearing healthcare and presently is the Chair of the Lancet Commission on Hearing Loss. He or he and his teams or colleagues have been recognized with a high number of awards and honors, including the 2015 Russ Prize, “for engineering cochlear implants that allow the deaf to hear,” and the 2013 Lasker~DeBakey Award, “for the development of the modern cochlear implant – a device that bestows hearing to individuals with profound deafness.” The Russ Prize is the world’s top honor for bioengineering and the Lasker Awards are second only to the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for recognizing advances in medicine and medical science. Prof. Wilson is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke (in 2007) and from the University as a whole (in 2019; the 42nd recipient of that Award). Additionally, he is a member of the USA’s National Academy of Engineering and is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Acoustical Society of America, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Adjunct Professor in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences
  • Scholar in Residence in the Pratt School of Engineering
  • Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Consulting Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 2410 Wrightwood Ave., Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: (919) 475-6135
  • Email Address: blake.wilson@duke.edu

Education

  • Ph.D. Duke University, 2015
  • D.Eng. University of Technology Sydney (Australia), 2014
  • D.Sc. University of Warwick (United Kingdom), 2013
  • B.S.E.E. Duke University, 1974

Research Interests

Wilson is interested in the design of cochlear implants and other neural prostheses for restoration of sensory functions. The design includes considerations of processing in the brain (the receiver) as well as processing in the periphery (the transmitter).

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Distinguished Alumni Award. Duke University. 2019
  • Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. National Academy of Inventors. 2019
  • Election to the National Academy of Engineering. National Academy of Engineering. 2017
  • Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal in Psychological & Physiological Acoustics, Speech Communication, and Signal Processing in Acoustics. Acoustical Society of America. 2017
  • Lifetime Achievement Award. 15th Annual International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Other Implantable Auditory Technologies. 2017
  • C. Paul and Beth K. Stocker Lecture. Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology and the Robe Leadership Institute at Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA. 2016
  • Distinguished BME Lecture. The Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA. 2016
  • Distinguished Research in the Field. Duke Graduate Program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. 2016
  • Eduard Rhein Technology Award. Eduard Rhein Foundation. 2016
  • Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. Acoustical Society of America. 2016
  • Guest of Honor, 149th Annual Meeting of the American Otological Society, Chicago, IL, USA. American Otological Society. 2016
  • Duke Engineering 75th Anniversary Lecture. Duke University Office of Provost; Duke University Pratt School of Engineering; and Duke University School of Medcine. 2015
  • Graham Fraser Memorial Lecture. Graham Fraser Foundation, London, UK. 2015
  • Guest of Honor, 4th Munich LMU Hearing Implant Symposium 2015: Hearing Implants Around the World, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany. The conference organizers. 2015
  • Honorary Doctorate in Medicine. University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. 2015
  • Honorary Doctorate in Medicine. Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. 2015
  • RTI Fellows Distinguished Lecture. RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA. 2015
  • The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize. National Academy of Engineering. 2015
  • The Gold Medal of the Paul Sabatier University. The Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France. 2015
  • 2014 Lasker Lecture, presented at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. The Lasker Foundation. 2014
  • Bull City Hall of Fame. Chamber of Commerce, Durham, NC, USA. 2014
  • Göttingen Sensory Lecture. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany. 2014
  • Hopkins Medicine Distinguished Speaker Lecture. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. 2014
  • Life Fellow of the IEEE. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 2014
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center Flexner Discovery Lecture. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA. 2014
  • Chandra Sekhar Lecture. The Chandra Sekhar Fund and the New York University School of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA. 2013
  • Commendation of the American Cochlear Implant Alliance. American Cochlear Implant Alliance. 2013
  • Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Lasker Foundation. 2013
  • Scholar in Residence, Pratt School of Engineering. Duke University. 2013
  • Co-Chair, with Co-Chair Christoph von Ilberg, M.D., of the Presbycusis Research Meeting, Munich, Germany. The conference sponsors. 2012
  • Dean’s Leadership in Innovation Seminar. Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology, Sydney, Sydney, Australia. 2011
  • Guest of Honor, Munich Hearing Implant Symposium: Reaching New Heights, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany. The conference organizers. 2011
  • Guest of Honor, Ninth European Symposium on Paediatric Cochlear Implantation, Warsaw, Poland. The conference organizers. 2009
  • One of Wilson's inventions was named as one of the four greatest inventions or discoveries in the 50-year history of the Research Triangle Park. Triangle Business Journal. 2009
  • Invitation to write the lead article for the special issue of the journal Hearing Research on Frontiers of Auditory Prosthesis Research: Implications for Clinical Practice. The editors for the special issue. 2008
  • Neel Distinguished Research Lectureship. American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery. 2008
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award. Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University. 2007
  • Chair, with Co-Chair Michael F. Dorman, Ph.D., of the Hearing Preservation Workshop V, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA. The conference organizers. 2006
  • Guest of Honor, Meeting of the Clinical Otologic Research Team (CORT), Cal-Creek Ranch, near Santa Fe, NM, USA. The CORT. 2006
  • Guest of Honor, Naval Science & Technological Laboratory, Visakhapatnam, India. Indian Naval Science & Technological Laboratory, Visakhapatnam, India. 2006
  • Guest of Honor, Sixth Wullstein Symposium 2006: New Developments in Hearing Technology, Würzburg, Germany. The conference organizers. 2006
  • Guest of Honor, Workshop on the Present Status and Future Directions of Cochlear Implants, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. Nano Bioelectronics & Systems Research Center, Seoul National University. 2006
  • Honorary member. Clinical Otologic Research Team (the CORT), USA. 2006
  • Special Guest of Honor, Ninth International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Related Sciences, Vienna, Austria. The conference organizers. 2006
  • Guest of Honor, Annual Meeting of the British Cochlear Implant Group: Pushing the Boundaries of Cochlear Implantation, Birmingham, UK. British Cochlear Implant Group. 2005
  • Guest of Honor, Annual Nalli Family Day, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Nalli Family Fund. 2005
  • Guest of Honor, Hearing Preservation Workshop IV, Warsaw-Kajetany, Poland. The conference organizers. 2005
  • Nalli Family Distinguished Lecture. The Nalli Family Fund and the Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 2005
  • Co-Chair, with Chair Peter S. Roland, M.D., of the Third Hearing Preservation Workshop, Dallas, TX, USA. The conference sponsors. 2004
  • Designation as a "Friend Forever" to the International Center of Hearing and Speech in Kajetany (near Warsaw), Poland. The International Center of Hearing and Speech, Kajetany, Poland. 2004
  • Guest of Honor, Fifth Wullstein Symposium on Bilateral Cochlear Implants and Binaural Signal Processing, Würzburg, Germany. The conference organizers. 2004
  • Special Guest, Eighth International Cochlear Implant Conference, Indianapolis, IN, USA. The conference organizers. 2004
  • Guest of Honor, Hearing Preservation Workshop II, Frankfurt, Germany. The conference organizers. 2003
  • Appointment as one of the first four Senior Fellows for RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA. RTI International. 2002
  • Co-Chair, with Chair Richard T. Miyamoto, M.D., of the Hearing Preservation Workshop, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA. The conference sponsors. 2002
  • Guest of Honor, Wullstein Symposium 2002 (3rd Conference on Bilateral Cochlear Implantation and Bilateral Signal Processing, 7th International Cochlear Implant Workshop, and 1st Workshop on Binaural Rehabilitation), Würzburg, Germany. The conference organizers. 2002
  • Honorary Member of the British Cochlear Implant Group. British Cochlear Implant Group. 2002
  • Guest of Honor, Wullstein Symposium (2nd Conference on Bilateral Cochlear Implantation and Bilateral Signal Processing, 6th International Cochlear Implant Workshop and 2nd Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) Workshop), Würzburg, Germany. The conference organizers. 2001
  • Guest of Honor, 5th International Cochlear Implant Workshop and 1st Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) Workshop, Würzburg, Germany. The conference organizers. 1999
  • Invitation to write a Guest Editorial in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the British Journal of Audiology. British Journal of Audiology. 1997
  • Presidential Citation for “Major contributions to the restoration of hearing in profoundly deaf persons,” on the occasion of the 130th Annual Meeting of the American Otological Society, Scottsdale, AZ, USA. American Otological Society. 1997
  • Discover Award for Technological Innovation . Discovery magazine. 1996
  • Guest of Honor, International Workshop on Cochlear Implants, Vienna, Austria. The conference organizers. 1996
  • Chair of the 1991 Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses, Pacific Grove, CA, USA. Election by peers. 1991

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Wilson, BS, Getting a decent (but sparse) signal to the brain for users of cochlear implants., Hear Res, vol 322 (2015), pp. 24-38 [10.1016/j.heares.2014.11.009] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS, Toward better representations of sound with cochlear implants., Nat Med, vol 19 no. 10 (2013), pp. 1245-1248 [10.1038/nm.3343] [abs].
  • Tucci, D; Merson, MH; Wilson, BS, A summary of the literature on global hearing impairment: current status and priorities for action., Otol Neurotol, vol 31 no. 1 (2010), pp. 31-41 [10.1097/mao.0b013e3181c0eaec] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Dorman, MF, Cochlear implants: a remarkable past and a brilliant future., Hearing Research, vol 242 no. 1-2 (2008), pp. 3-21 [10.1016/j.heares.2008.06.005] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Dorman, MF, Cochlear implants: current designs and future possibilities., J Rehabil Res Dev, vol 45 no. 5 (2008), pp. 695-730 [10.1682/jrrd.2007.10.0173] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Dorman, MF, The surprising performance of present-day cochlear implants., Ieee Transactions on Bio Medical Engineering, vol 54 no. 6 Pt 1 (2007), pp. 969-972 [10.1109/TBME.2007.893505] [abs].
  • An, SK; Park, S-I; Jun, SB; Lee, CJ; Byun, KM; Sung, JH; Wilson, BS; Rebscher, SJ; Oh, SH; Kim, SJ, Design for a simplified cochlear implant system., Ieee Transactions on Bio Medical Engineering, vol 54 no. 6 Pt 1 (2007), pp. 973-982 [10.1109/TBME.2007.895372] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Schatzer, R; Lopez-Poveda, EA; Sun, X; Lawson, DT; Wolford, RD, Two new directions in speech processor design for cochlear implants., Ear and Hearing, vol 26 no. 4 Suppl (2005), pp. 73S-81S [10.1097/00003446-200508001-00009] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Lawson, DT; Muller, JM; Tyler, RS; Kiefer, J, Cochlear implants: some likely next steps., Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, vol 5 (2003), pp. 207-249 [10.1146/annurev.bioeng.5.040202.121645] [abs].
  • Rubinstein, JT; Wilson, BS; Finley, CC; Abbas, PJ, Pseudospontaneous activity: stochastic independence of auditory nerve fibers with electrical stimulation., Hearing Research, vol 127 no. 1-2 (1999), pp. 108-118 [10.1016/s0378-5955(98)00185-3] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Rebscher, S; Zeng, FG; Shannon, RV; Loeb, GE; Lawson, DT; Zerbi, M, Design for an inexpensive but effective cochlear implant., Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, vol 118 no. 2 (1998), pp. 235-241 [10.1016/S0194-5998(98)80022-3] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Finley, CC; Lawson, DT; Zerbi, M, Temporal representations with cochlear implants., The American Journal of Otology, vol 18 no. 6 Suppl (1997), pp. S30-S34 [abs].
  • Wilson, BS, The future of cochlear implants., British Journal of Audiology, vol 31 no. 4 (1997), pp. 205-225 [10.3109/03005369709076795] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Lawson, DT; Zerbi, M; Finley, CC; Wolford, RD, New processing strategies in cochlear implantation., The American Journal of Otology, vol 16 no. 5 (1995), pp. 669-675 [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Lawson, DT; Finley, CC; Wolford, RD, Importance of patient and processor variables in determining outcomes with cochlear implants., Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, vol 36 no. 2 (1993), pp. 373-379 [10.1044/jshr.3602.373] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Finley, CC; Lawson, DT; Wolford, RD; Eddington, DK; Rabinowitz, WM, Better speech recognition with cochlear implants., Nature, vol 352 no. 6332 (1991), pp. 236-238 [10.1038/352236a0] [abs].
  • Wilson, BS; Finley, CC; Farmer, JC; Lawson, DT; Weber, BA; Wolford, RD; Kenan, PD; White, MW; Merzenich, MM; Schindler, RA, Comparative studies of speech processing strategies for cochlear implants., Laryngoscope, vol 98 no. 10 (1988), pp. 1069-1077 [10.1288/00005537-198810000-00009] [abs].