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Premier's Prizes

2021 NSW Scientist of the Year

Scientist of the Year, Professor Jim Patrick AO

James Finlay Patrick AO

BSc MSc DEng DSc FIEAust CPEng (Ret) FTSE

Chief Scientist - Emeritus, Cochlear Limited

Adjunct Professor, Macquarie University

James (Jim) Patrick is recognised as a world authority on cochlear implants. Together with Professor Graeme Clark, he is one of the original engineers who pioneered the development of the multi-channel cochlear implant.

Jim joined Professor Clark’s research team at Melbourne University in 1975. With training in physics and communications engineering, and an interest in how electrical stimulation might be used to help people hear, he led the successful development of ‘UMDOLEE’, the 10-channel cochlear implant developed by the university’s Departments of Otolaryngology and Electrical Engineering.

When the UMDOLEE proof of concept generated Commonwealth Government support for commercial development in 1981, Jim moved to Sydney as a member of the Cochlear ‘Tiger Team’ established by Paul Trainor inside the Nucleus group, to develop a ‘clinically applicable’ cochlear implant. Jim was responsible for systems engineering and the digital aspects of the implantable stimulator, playing a key leadership role in the development of the commercial medical implant.

From 1981 to 2016 Jim was a member of Cochlear’s senior management team, holding a number of technology management roles, including responsibility for R&D, Quality and Manufacturing. He was recently responsible for Cochlear’s global research programme, exploring how novel forms of signal processing can improve the performance of the cochlear implant and how advances in biology and electro-neural interfaces can be applied to future implant designs.

Jim has also been involved in several projects that seek to use Cochlear technology in other medical bionics fields. These include the treatment of spinal cord injuries, the use of an implanted stimulator to provide sensory feedback for people using artificial hands and the use of an implanted stimulator to provide ‘pacing’ vestibular stimulation to relieve Meniere’s disease symptoms.

Jim has been a member of the Advisory Boards to many Institutions, with current appointments to The Shepherd Centre Research Advisory Committee, the Mirage 3.4D Board and the Carbon Cybernetics Board.

Jim retired from Cochlear in December 2016 but continues to contribute in an Emeritus role.

Jim has received significant recognition and awards during his career:

  • Named in the 2007 ‘Australia’s Most Influential Engineers’ for Engineering Expertise
  • Honoured by the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children by their naming of the ‘Jim Patrick Audiology Centre’ and by the Australian Hearing Hub by their naming of ‘The Patrick Meeting Room’
  • Named ‘Engineering Icon for the Cochlear Implant’ by The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering
  • Won the 2014 David Dewhurst Award for Biomedical Engineering
  • In 2015, received the ATSE Clunies Ross Lifetime Achievement Award for the application of science and technology for the benefit of Australia
  • In 2015, received the Order of Australia for distinguished service to science through the development of Cochlear implant technology, to biomedical research and engineering innovation, and to education and professional associations
  • In 2017, received the Samuel F. Lybarger Award for Achievements in Industry by the American Academy of Audiology
  • In 2020, was awarded the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit by the Republic of Poland

Jim is named as an inventor on 37 families of patents. He has been invited to present at numerous conferences on topics associated with cochlear implants and has contributed to 11 book chapters and 44 peer-reviewed papers.