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MED-EL - Implant Experience - August 2023

Prestigious Global Engineering Medals Awarded to Cochlear Implant Inventors and MED-EL Founders Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair


DURHAM, NC – May 8, 2023 – MED-EL USA announced today that Austrian cochlear implant pioneers, Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair and Prof. Erwin Hochmair have been granted the 2023 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for their outstanding contribution to communication and engineering. The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal is awarded “for exceptional contributions to communications and networking sciences and engineering.” This year’s IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and Honors Ceremony was held in Atlanta, on May 5, 2023. The Hochmairs were part of the “Navigating in the Technology Industry” panel and were presented their award during the Honors Ceremony. 

The Hochmairs each received the prestigious IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for the research and development of cochlear implants – a medical device that helps people living with hearing loss to hear again. Their groundbreaking research resulted in the creation of the world’s first microelectronic multichannel cochlear implant, which was successfully implanted in December 1977.  Since then, their work has continued to change the lives of people around the world.

The Alexander Graham Bell Medal, awarded annually by IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization advancing technology for the benefit of humanity, was established in 1976 in commemoration of the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Bell’s pioneering invention was a breakthrough in electrotechnology, dramatically improving life throughout the world. Since its inception, the Medal has been awarded to just 58 visionaries whose exceptional contributions have made a lasting impact on communications, networking sciences and engineering. Not only are Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair the first Austrians ever to receive the IEEE Medal but they are the first recipients acknowledged for the development of a medical device. Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair is also only the second woman in the Alexander Graham Bell Medal’s 47-year-history to receive this award.

“Overcoming hearing loss as a barrier to communication has been our mission at MED-EL from the very beginning. We’re very proud of the pioneering innovations that have been made possible thanks to decades of painstaking research, significant advances in the fields of science, engineering and technology, and of course collaborations with medical experts, scientists, and implant users worldwide. Our goal is that people who use our devices truly benefit from medical innovations now and in the future and are able to achieve as close to natural hearing as possible” said MED-EL CEO, Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair.

"Engineering and technology innovation continues to transform both humanity and the world for the better, and nowhere is that transformation more visible or profound than in healthcare. By pairing engineering expertise with medical knowledge, Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair have restored the gift of hearing to hundreds of thousands worldwide, fundamentally improving their lives. Their 2023 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal is a well-deserved honor, and we congratulate them on their accomplishments,” said IEEE Awards Board chair, Dr. Nim K. Cheung.

About IEEE

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice in a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers, and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics. To learn more about the VIC Summit and Honors Ceremony, please visit IEEE Awards. More information on the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal can be found here IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal - IEEE Awards.

About MED-EL

MED-EL Medical Electronics, a leader in implantable hearing solutions, is driven by a mission to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication and quality of life. The Austrian-based, privately owned business was co-founded by industry pioneers Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair, whose groundbreaking research led to the development of the world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant (CI), which was successfully implanted in 1977 and was the basis for what is known as the modern CI today. This laid the foundation for the successful growth of the company in 1990, when they hired their first employees. To date, MED-EL has grown to more than 2,500 employees from around 80 nations and 30 locations worldwide.

The company offers the widest range of implantable and non-implantable solutions to treat all types of hearing loss, enabling people in 140 countries to enjoy the gift of hearing with the help of a MED-EL device. MED-EL’s hearing solutions include cochlear implant systems, a combined Electric Acoustic Stimulation hearing implant system, as well as surgical and non-surgical bone conduction devices. 

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