Professor Hugh McDermott is the Chief Technology Officer of the Bionics Institute and Chief Science Officer of a start-up company, Deep Brain Stimulation Technologies Pty Ltd. Professor McDermott has led a distinguished career since being awarded the PhD degree from the University of Melbourne and has been closely associated with his alma mater for over 40 years. He currently holds an honorary appointment as a Professorial Fellow at The University of Melbourne. In 2006, Hugh was appointed to the newly created Chair of Auditory Communication and Signal Processing at the University of Melbourne as full professor. He held that position until he joined the Bionics Institute as Deputy Director in 2010. Hugh was appointed CTO in December 2017.

In recognition of his world-renowned research in signal processing, electronic design, and perception, Hugh is an elected Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS). In 2009, he was the first recipient of the Callier Prize in Communication Disorders, an award from the University of Texas, USA, for leadership “that has fostered scientific advances and significant developments in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders”.

Hugh is an inventor on over 30 patent families. Several of his inventions have been successfully implemented in commercial products available worldwide, including:

  • The Speak/ACE sound-processing scheme for cochlear implants which is the highly successful basis of all CI systems manufactured and sold by the Australian company Cochlear Ltd for over 20 years. Cochlear Ltd continues to dominate the world market for cochlear implants.
  • A frequency-compression scheme for acoustic hearing aids – SoundRecover – which improves the perception of high-frequency sounds and thereby increases speech intelligibility. SoundRecover is available in almost all instruments sold by the world’s largest manufacturer of hearing aids, Phonak AG (a subsidiary of Sonova), based in Switzerland. Phonak sells over 1 million hearing instruments in approximately 100 countries each year.
  • Electronic circuit designs for cochlear implants and other neurostimulators. As a PhD student, Hugh completed all aspects of the design and layout of a custom receiver-stimulator chip that implemented several unique technical features. Innovations arising from that development have been incorporated into the implant systems manufactured commercially by Cochlear Ltd today.

Hugh has authored or co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed papers, 7 book chapters, and approximately 200 further publications along with over 200 conference presentations. He is a named investigator on grants with funding totalling about $7m over the past 5 years. On more than 100 occasions he has been invited to present lectures to international conferences and corporate workshops. He also regularly presents public seminars and participates in workshops with community groups.

Professor McDermott remains a passionate and significant contributor to the Bionics Institute and his work now has extended into the fields of prosthetic vision and brain stimulation. The latter research aims to treat conditions such as movement disorders, epilepsy, and certain psychiatric conditions using implanted stimulators.



E: [email protected]



Research projects

Adaptive Deep Brain Stimulation Device (ASTUTE system)

Improved positioning for DBS (ADEPT device)

Pre-clinical validation (ERNA signal)

Improved diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (BiRD device)

Recent publications

  1. McDermott, H. J., and N. C. Sinclair. 2020. Feedback control for deep brain stimulation for motor disorders. Healthcare Technology Letters. 7(3): 72-75. doi: 10.1049/htl.2019.0119. 

  2. Thevathasan, W., N. C. Sinclair, K. J. Bulluss, and H. J. McDermott. 2020. Tailoring Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Disease Using Evoked Resonant Neural Activity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 14(71). doi: 3389/fnhum.2020.00071. Full Text

  3. Villalobos, J., H. J. McDermott, P. McNeill, A. Golod, V. Rathi, S. Bauquier, and J. B. Fallon. 2020. Slim electrodes for improved targeting in deep brain stimulation. Journal of Neural Engineering. 17: 026008. doi: 1088/1741-2552/ab7a51.

  4. Sinclair, N. C., J. B. Fallon, K. Bulluss, W. Thevathasan, and H. J. McDermott. 2019. On the neural basis of deep brain stimulation evoked resonant activity. Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express. 5: 057001. doi:

  5. Sinclair, N. C., H. J. McDermott, J. B. Fallon, T. Perera, P. Brown, K. J. Bulluss, and W. Thevathasan. 2019. Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease modulates high-frequency evoked and spontaneous neural activity. Neurobiology of disease. 130: 104522. doi: 1016/j.nbd.2019.104522.

  6. Lee, W. L., N. C. Sinclair, M. Jones, J. L. Tan, E. L. Proud, R. Peppard, H. J. McDermott, and T. Perera. 2019. Objective evaluation of bradykinesia in Parkinson's disease using an inexpensive marker-less motion tracking system. Physiological Measurement. 40(1): 014004. doi: 1088/1361-6579/aafef2.

  7. Brochier, T., C. McKay, and H. McDermott. 2018. Encoding speech in cochlear implants using simultaneous amplitude and rate modulation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 144(4): 2042-2051. doi: 1121/1.5055989Full Text

  8. Sinclair, N. C., H. J. McDermott, K. J. Bulluss, J. B. Fallon, T. Perera, S. S. Xu, P. Brown, and W. Thevathasan. 2018. Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation evokes resonant neural activity. Annals of neurology. 83(5): 1027-1031. doi: 10.1002/ana.25234. Full Text

  9. Brochier, T., C. McKay, and H. McDermott. 2018. Rate modulation detection thresholds for cochlear implant users. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143(2): 1214 - 1222. doi: 10.1121/1.5025048. Full Text

  10. Brochier, T., H. J. McDermott, and C. M. McKay. 2017. The effect of presentation level and stimulation rate on speech perception and modulation detection for cochlear implant users. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 141(6): 4097. doi: 10.1121/1.4983658. Full Text

Further information

Click here to read Hugh's story.