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Celebrating the life and work of Noel Cohen, pioneering cochlear implant surgeon

Longstanding CHC Board member and friend

Noel-Cohen-CHC-Honorary-Cochlear-Implant -Surgeon

Noel Cohen, MD, CHC Centennial Honoree, 2010

All of us connected to the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) were saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and distinguished cochlear implant surgeon, Noel Cohen.

We are proud of our nearly 40-year alliance with Dr. Cohen who served as a CHC Board member and more recently an Honorary Director. And we treasure the opportunity so many of us in the CHC community had to benefit from his leadership and humanity.

Cochlear implant pioneer

Dr. Cohen was the definition of a trailblazer. Forty years ago, when science and technology offered relatively little hope for people with severe or profound hearing loss, Dr. Cohen saw the potential in the cochlear implant. With courage and vision, he ushered in an astounding new era in which people who are deaf can gain the ability to hear sound.


Noel Cohen, cochlear implant surgeon, and wife, Baukje, at CHC-NY, 2012

For most of his career, Dr. Cohen served as a Professor of Otolaryngology at the NYU School of Medicine where he pioneered cochlear and brainstem implant design and surgery. He received his medical degree from the University of Utrecht in 1957, served as Lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve and, in 1959, began his residency in Otolaryngology at NYU. Dr. Cohen was appointed Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology in 1981 and continued in that role until he retired in 2003.

Dr. Cohen was a Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and of the American College of Surgeons, and many other professional organizations. In 1995 he was an invited speaker at the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Cochlear Implants in Adults and Children. He also participated in the Task Force on the Development of the National Institute of Deafness and other Communicative Disorders and chaired panels for the National Institutes of Health. These prestigious appointments highlight Dr. Cohen’s esteemed standing in the field of otolaryngology, a position of which he is richly deserving based on years of research, clinical, and teaching excellence.

CHC supporter and friend

In 2010, we were thrilled to honor Dr. Cohen for his groundbreaking vision and clinical excellence in cochlear implant surgery with the Centennial Award at our Centennial Celebration Gala. More recently we celebrated the naming of CHC’s Otology Center in honor of Dr. Cohen at our 2012 Annual Meeting.

Today we reflect on Dr. Cohen’s extraordinary life, his compassion, and his deep commitment to his patients, and we celebrate the enormous impact he had on the lives of children and adults with hearing loss. A moment of silence and gratitude for the man who made hearing possible for millions.

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