David T. Kemp clearly merits the Academy’s 2019 International Award for Hearing, due to his revolutionary and paradigm-shifting contributions to audiology practices and auditory research around the world. His landmark discovery of otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) in 1978 revealed that the cochlea generates sound and is much more than a passive receptor. Subsequently, David Kemp’s basic and translational hearing research with OAEs illuminated our theoretical understanding of hearing. He refined the use of OAEs as a critical method of characterizing auditory function, as now adopted by newborn hearing screening programs worldwide. OAEs have become key tools used to understand auditory neuropathy, probe other forms of cochlear and neural hearing loss, and provide important crosschecks with behavioral test methods.
In addition, David Kemp’s discoveries, inventions, collaborations, and teaching serve as the foundations for careers of many audiologists and hearing scientists. He developed a commercial resource to facilitate implementation of OAEs that continues, under his leadership, to be a driving force in the arena of clinical instrumentation. The resources from that company have helped to build a premier auditory research center at the Centre for Auditory Research, University College of London Ear Institute. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, has earned the Award of Merit from the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, and the von Bekesy Medal from the Acoustical Society of America. He is respected for sharing his time and his talents abundantly with colleagues and students.