Blake Shaw 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:


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

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Wilson, Blake S. “Getting a decent (but sparse) signal to the brain for users of cochlear implants.” Hear Res 322 (April 2015): 24–38.
  • Wilson, Blake S. “Toward better representations of sound with cochlear implants.” Nat Med 19, no. 10 (October 2013): 1245–48.
  • Tucci, Debara, Michael H. Merson, and Blake S. Wilson. “A summary of the literature on global hearing impairment: current status and priorities for action.” Otol Neurotol 31, no. 1 (January 2010): 31–41.
  • Wilson, Blake S., and Michael F. Dorman. “Cochlear implants: a remarkable past and a brilliant future.” Hear Res 242, no. 1–2 (August 2008): 3–21.
  • Wilson, Blake S., and Michael F. Dorman. “Cochlear implants: current designs and future possibilities.” J Rehabil Res Dev 45, no. 5 (2008): 695–730.
  • Wilson, Blake S., and Michael F. Dorman. “The surprising performance of present-day cochlear implants.” Ieee Trans Biomed Eng 54, no. 6 Pt 1 (June 2007): 969–72.
  • An, Soon Kwan, Se-Ik Park, Sang Beom Jun, Choong Jae Lee, Kyung Min Byun, Jung Hyun Sung, Blake S. Wilson, Stephen J. Rebscher, Seung Ha Oh, and Sung June Kim. “Design for a simplified cochlear implant system.” Ieee Trans Biomed Eng 54, no. 6 Pt 1 (June 2007): 973–82.
  • Wilson, Blake S., Reinhold Schatzer, Enrique A. Lopez-Poveda, Xiaoan Sun, Dewey T. Lawson, and Robert D. Wolford. “Two new directions in speech processor design for cochlear implants.” Ear Hear 26, no. 4 Suppl (August 2005): 73S-81S.
  • Wilson, Blake S., Dewey T. Lawson, Joachim M. Muller, Richard S. Tyler, and Jan Kiefer. “Cochlear implants: some likely next steps.” Annu Rev Biomed Eng 5 (2003): 207–49.
  • Rubinstein, J. T., B. S. Wilson, C. C. Finley, and P. J. Abbas. “Pseudospontaneous activity: stochastic independence of auditory nerve fibers with electrical stimulation.” Hear Res 127, no. 1–2 (January 1999): 108–18.
  • Wilson, B. S., S. Rebscher, F. G. Zeng, R. V. Shannon, G. E. Loeb, D. T. Lawson, and M. Zerbi. “Design for an inexpensive but effective cochlear implant.” Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 118, no. 2 (February 1998): 235–41.
  • Wilson, B. S., C. C. Finley, D. T. Lawson, and M. Zerbi. “Temporal representations with cochlear implants.” Am J Otol 18, no. 6 Suppl (November 1997): S30–34.
  • Wilson, B. S. “The future of cochlear implants.” Br J Audiol 31, no. 4 (August 1997): 205–25.
  • Wilson, B. S., D. T. Lawson, M. Zerbi, C. C. Finley, and R. D. Wolford. “New processing strategies in cochlear implantation.” Am J Otol 16, no. 5 (September 1995): 669–75.
  • Wilson, B. S., D. T. Lawson, C. C. Finley, and R. D. Wolford. “Importance of patient and processor variables in determining outcomes with cochlear implants.” J Speech Hear Res 36, no. 2 (April 1993): 373–79.
  • Wilson, B. S., C. C. Finley, D. T. Lawson, R. D. Wolford, D. K. Eddington, and W. M. Rabinowitz. “Better speech recognition with cochlear implants.” Nature 352, no. 6332 (July 18, 1991): 236–38.
  • Wilson, B. S., C. C. Finley, J. C. Farmer, D. T. Lawson, B. A. Weber, R. D. Wolford, P. D. Kenan, M. W. White, M. M. Merzenich, and R. A. Schindler. “Comparative studies of speech processing strategies for cochlear implants.” Laryngoscope 98, no. 10 (October 1988): 1069–77.