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Robert Harrison

Title: Senior Scientist, Director of the Auditory Science Laboratory
Designations: PhD, D.Sc.
Phone: 416-813-6535
Alternate Contact Name: Sarah Haslegrave
Alternate Phone: 416-813-8945
Alternate Email:


Bob Harrison has basic training in biological sciences, with two doctoral degrees in auditory neuroscience from British universities. He has spent decades in basic and clinical research fields in audiology and otology has an international reputation as an expert on the inner ear and auditory neuroscience. His research has helped us to understand the pathophysiology of hearing loss and the plasticity of the auditory brain. He has published his findings in 200 papers in scientific and medical journals, and has received many awards and honours for these contributions.

In addition to research, Bob has spent decades teaching auditory neuroscience. He has supervised the research of over 80 graduate trainees (masters and PhD students, and post-doctoral fellows). Through his 40 years of academic interest in audiology and otology, Bob has tried to take new discoveries and knowledge from the laboratory and translate them into clinical realm, and thus promote wellness and improved hearing healthcare.


Bob Harrison is involved in both basic and clinically related research. Much of his research career has focused on animal models of hearing loss, including auditory neuropathy, acoustic trauma, age related hearing loss, and most recently, hearing loss after cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. In addition, he has been involved in many studies relating to hearing loss in children, including cochlear implantation outcome measures, and neonatal hearing screening.

Regarding his physiological studies of hearing function, he has extensive experience with microelectrode (single neuron) recordings and evoked potential measures from all areas of the auditory brain from the ear up to auditory cortex. Most recently, he has developed novel techniques to image cochlear structures including scanning electron microscopy of corrosion casts of capillary beds in the cochlea, and fluorescence microscopy of whole cochlear specimens. 

Education and experience

  • 1973: B.Sc. (hons.), Biological Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
  • 1978: PhD Communication and Neuroscience, University of Keele, UK
  • 1981–1983: Attaché de Recherche INSERM, University Bordeaux, France
  • 1983–1984: Charge de Recherche INSERM, University Bordeaux, France
  • 1984: Director of Otological Research, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON
  • 1984–1989: Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 1984: Member of Institute of Medical Science (IMS), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 1985: Member, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 1988: Senior Scientist, Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON
  • 1989: Professor, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 1989: Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 1991: D.Sc. (Doctor of Science) University of Birmingham, UK
  • 1991: Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 2012: Faculty of Music, University of Toronto (member of the Music and Health Research Collabatory)


  • 2018: Honorary Member (for life) of the Canadian Academy of Audiology (CAA)
  • 2017: SENTAC (Society for Ear Nose and throat Advances in children) Scientific Achievement Award
  • 2014–2019: Vice Chair (research) Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, University of Toronto
  • 2014: American Physiological Society, 10 year Membership Award
  • 2013: Humanitarian Award, Family Centered Care, SickKids Foundation
  • 2013: Award of Excellence, Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA)
  • 2012: Elected Member of the International Academy of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
  • 2011–2017: Academic board, University of Toronto. Elected Faculty of Medicine representative
  • 2009: Canadian Pediatric Society, Noni MacDonald Prize
  • 2006–2016: Scientific Director, The Hearing Foundation of Canada, 2006-present
  • 2005: Elected Member, Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children (SENTAC)
  • 1991: Elected to Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum (CORLAS)


  1. D’ALESSANDRO LM, HARRISON RV. (2018) c-fos immunolabeling reveals changes in neural activation patterns in chinchilla auditory midbrain following chronic neonatal exposure to a moderately-intense sound environment. Neural Plasticity, 2018 Jul 5;2018:7160362
  2. CARRARO M, PARK A, HARRISON RV. (2016) Partial corrosion casting to assess cochlear vasculature in mouse models of presbycusis and CMV infection. Hearing Research. 332 95-103.
  3. HARRISON RV, GORDON KA, NEGANDHI J, PAPSIN B, JAMES AL. (2015) Auditory neuropathy Spectrum Disorder and Cochlear Implantation. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2015 Dec;79:1980-7.
  4. CARRARO M, ALMISHAAL A, HILLAS E, FIRPO M, PARK A, HARRISON RV. (2016) Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection causes degeneration of cochlear vasculature and hearing loss in a mouse model. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (JARO) 2016 Dec 19. 
  5. NEGANDHI J, HARRISON AL, ALLEMANG C, HARRISON RV. (2014) The time course of cochlear injury discharge (excitotoxicity) determined by ABR monitoring of the contralateral cochlear events. Hear Res 26;315C: 34-39.

See a full list of Robert Harrison's publications

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