Blake Shaw Wilson

Image of Blake Shaw Wilson

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Surgery

Prof. Wilson was initially trained as an electrical engineer but also became a leading scientist in the fields of hearing research, remediation of hearing loss, and neural prostheses in the ensuing years. He has a BSEE from Duke University and higher doctorates in science and engineering from the University of Warwick and the University of Technology, Sydney, respectively. In addition, he is a Life Fellow of the IEEE and is the recipient of honorary doctorates in medicine from Uppsala University and the University of Salamanca. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, and has led or co-led many multidisciplinary efforts during the past three decades.

Wilson is the inventor of many of the speech processing strategies used with the present-day cochlear implants, including the continuous interleaved sampling (CIS), spectral peak picking (e.g., “n-of-m”), and virtual channel strategies, among others. One of his papers, in the journal Nature, is the most highly cited publication in the field of cochlear implants. He has served as the Principal Investigator for 26 projects, including 13 projects for the USA’s National Institutes of Health. In addition, he helped to create the Duke Cochlear Implant Program in 1984 and the Duke Hearing Center in 2008.

Alone or with colleagues, Wilson has received a high number of prestigious awards. Two of the awards are the 2013 Lasker~DeBakey Award and the 2015 Russ Prize. In addition, he has been the Guest of Honor (GOH) at 13 international and three national conferences to date. He has given GOH, keynote, or other invited talks at more than 180 conferences, and he has given 12 named lectures, including the Neel Distinguished Research Lecture, a Hopkins Medicine Distinguished Speaker Lecture, the Duke Engineering 75th Anniversary Lecture, and one of the Flexner Discovery Lectures.

Appointments and Affiliations
  • Adjunct Professor in the Department of Surgery
  • Consulting Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute
Contact Information:
  • Office Phone: (919) 493-7231
  • Email Address:

  • B.S.E.E. Duke University, 1974

Research Interests:

Signal processing and neural prostheses


Signal Processing
Neural Prosthesis

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Lasker Foundation. 2013

Courses Taught:

    Representative Publications: (More Publications)
      • Tucci, D; Merson, MH; Wilson, BS, A summary of the literature on global hearing impairment: current status and priorities for action., Otology and Neurotology, vol 31 no. 1 (2010), pp. 31-41 [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., Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, vol 45 no. 5 (2008), pp. 695-730 [abs].
      • An, SK; Park, SI; 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 Biomedical Engineering, vol 54 no. 6 Pt 1 (2007), pp. 973-982 [10.1109/TBME.2007.895372] [abs].
      • Wilson, BS; Dorman, MF, The surprising performance of present-day cochlear implants., IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol 54 no. 6 Pt 1 (2007), pp. 969-972 [10.1109/TBME.2007.893505] [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 [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 [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 [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 (Informa), vol 31 no. 4 (1997), pp. 205-225 [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 [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., The Laryngoscope, vol 98 no. 10 (1988), pp. 1069-1077 [10.1288/00005537-198810000-00009] [abs].