Ear Science Institute Australia partners with Deakin University to engineer world’s first acoustically optimised repair for perforated ear drums.


The Ear Science Institute of Australia (ESIA) have formalised a partnership with Melbourne’s Deakin University to build the world’s first bio-engineered human ear drum with optimised acoustic properties.


This latest project will draw upon technology which has been under development at ESIA for the past 10 years to replicate the human tympanic membrane (TM), otherwise known as the ear drum.  An exciting new phase of investigation is now set to begin – the optimisation of the acoustic properties of the reparative engineered ear drum.  The project recently was awarded an Australian Research Council grant recognising the innovation and significance of the work.


ESIA Director and project leader, Winthrop Professor Marcus Atlas stated that the mechanical and vibro-acoustic properties of a reconstituted TM are critical for the quality of postoperative middle ear function.


“Through this collaborative project, we will be able to further explore different structures, and understand how membrane microstructure and architecture affect the critically important acoustic properties of the membranes and help TM remodelling” said Professor Atlas.


ESIA’s key partners in this project are the team at Deakin University’s Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC), led by Alfred Deakin Professor Xungai Wang.  Professor Wang and his team of scientists will be responsible for manufacturing the specialised scaffolds utilising the latest fibre processing techniques developed at Deakin.  According to Professor Wang optimisation of the processing and design of the nano fibre based reinforced structure will be an important part of this new phase of the research. “We have a long standing collaboration with Professor Atlas and his team at ESIA which has been strengthened by the signing of this latest research agreement” said Professor Wang.


This cutting edge expansion to the current TM regeneration research has been made possible through the generous support of The Tony and Gwenyth Lennon Family Charitable Foundation who have specifically chosen to support this new research by donating $250,000 to the ESIA.  This donation was leveraged by ESIA together with the Deakin project partners to secure a further $415,000 in funding through the prestigious and competitive Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant scheme.  Tony Lennon, Chairman of The Tony and Gwenyth Lennon Family Charitable Foundation is pleased to see the Foundation’s contribution having a direct benefit to the community.


“Gwenyth and I aim to assist clinically applicable research and support the development of young researchers” said Mr Lennon.  “This project has the potential to make a significant difference to the lives of people who suffer from chronic perforations of the ear drum – We are very pleased to be able to support such important work.”


The project will be the first comprehensive study to tackle the key issue of acoustic optimisation in the development of artificial eardrums. Existing graft materials can’t replicate the microstructure and properties of native ear drums, hence hearing is not always restored when used to repair perforated ear drums.