Our History

The history of cochlear implants has been characterized by achieving substantial growth in a relatively short period of time. Proudly, the Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine has been a major force in providing the research necessary to foster this growth.

The Iowa Cochlear Implant Project was established in 1981 with the availability of single channel cochlear implant systems. Patient reports from that time revealed that these devices provided, at best, sound awareness. In 1983, UI Hospitals and Clinics was the first center in the United States to implant a multichannel cochlear implant system. These devices quickly demonstrated that patients could achieve good, if not remarkably good, speech recognition abilities.

With the introduction of multichannel devices, the Iowa Cochlear Implant Project began to expand this technology to include children and was the first clinic in the nation to implant a congenitally deaf child. Since that time, over 1,500 children and adults have been implanted at UI Hospitals and Clinics. In addition, the Project has been a crucial component of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clinical trial process by providing strict data for device manufacturers seeking device approvals for use in the U.S. To date, the University of Iowa has one of the largest and most comprehensive databases in the field, following patients for as long as 30 years.