A lifetime devoted to better hearing

Bob Cowan receives Cooperative Research Australia lifetime achievement award

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PREVENTING THE PREVENTABLE: Bob Cowan says hearing should be a standard part of a medical check-up from the age of 50.

PREVENTING THE PREVENTABLE: Bob Cowan says hearing should be a standard part of a medical check-up from the age of 50.

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Bob Cowan has been recognised by Cooperative Research Australia.for his work to addressing hearing loss.

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Internationally renowned hearing expert Bob Cowan has received a lifetime achievement award from Cooperative Research Australia.

Professor Cowan is recognised for ground-breaking work over three decades in raising awareness of the economic costs and benefits of addressing hearing loss in children and adults.

"We only get one set of hearing organs for life. It's a common myth that hearing loss only occurs when you get old. It has a cumulative effect over a lifetime, and a lot of hearing loss in older people is totally preventable," he said.

"We all do lose some hearing in old age, but when you start from a low base, the problem is worse.

"Hearing loss also causes problems with communication and when people communicate less they become more isolated, which impacts on life quality."

Hearing should be a standard part of a medical check-up from the age of 50, he said. "And as soon as anyone detects a loss of hearing, they need to do something about it as early as possible."

Professor Cowan is a University of Melbourne research fellow and managing director of HEARnet Clinical Studies. He led the federally funded HEARing Cooperative Research Centres from 1992-2019.

Driven by him, the centres' technology has supported Cochlear's world-leading position and been applied commercially in fitting half the world's hearing aids.

It has improved hearing in iPhones, protection of hearing of call centre operators and automated diagnostic testing for infants.

Professor Cowan said having industry partners in research and development is helpful in understanding what's going on in the marketplace and the limitations of theory in reality.

HEARing CRC research now provides cost-saving efficiencies in hearing services for Hearing Australia, hospital clinics and private audiologists.

Professor Cowan has also invested HEARing CRC commercial revenues to embed 72 PhDs with industry and clinical partners..

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