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Robert Harrison

Title: Senior Scientist Emeritus
Designations: PhD, D.Sc.
Phone: 416-813-6535
Alternate Contact Name: Samira Fairuz
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 X309130
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Professor, Department of Otolaryngology – HNS. Professor, Department of Physiology Professor, Institute of Biomedical Engineering Professor, Institute of Medical Science Full member, School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Member, Faculty of Music


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. Through his 40 years of academic interest in audiology and otology, Harrison has tried to take new discoveries and knowledge from the laboratory and translate them into the clinical realm, and thus promote wellness and improved hearing healthcare. 


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. 

Education and experience

Harrison has spent decades teaching auditory neuroscience at undergraduate and graduate levels. He has supervised the research of over 80 graduate trainees (master’s and PhD students, and post-doctoral fellows).  


  • 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. Hearing loss caused by CMV infection is correlated with reduced endocochlear potentials caused by strial damage in murine models. Yu Y, Shi K, Nielson C, Graham EM, Price MS, Haller TJ, Carraro M, Firpo MA, Park AH, Harrison RV. Hear Res. 2022 Apr;417:108454. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2022.108454. Epub 2022 Jan 31. PMID: 35131579  
  2. Synthetic Simulator for Surgical Training in Tracheostomy and Open Airway Surgery. Deonarain AR, Harrison RV, Gordon KA, Looi T, Agur AMR, Estrada M, Wolter NE, Propst EJ. Laryngoscope. 2021 Jul;131(7):E2378-E2386. doi: 10.1002/lary.29359. Epub 2021 Jan 16. PMID: 33452681  
  3. Does riboflavin depletion cause auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder in at risk neonates? James AL, Chakraborty P, Tomlinson C, Harrison RV. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2020 Oct;137:110238. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2020.110238. Epub 2020 Jul 2. PMID: 32896351 Review.  
  4. Early Enzyme Replacement Therapy Improves Hearing and Immune Defects in Adenosine Deaminase Deficient-Mice. Xu X, Negandhi J, Min W, Tsui M, Post M, Harrison RV, Grunebaum E. Front Immunol. 2019 Mar 13;10:416. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00416. eCollection 2019. PMID: 30918508 Free PMC article.  
  5. Changes to Neural Activation Patterns (c-fos Labeling) in Chinchilla Auditory Midbrain following Neonatal Exposure to an Enhanced Sound Environment. D'Alessandro LM, Harrison RV. Neural Plast. 2018 Jul 5;2018:7160362. doi: 10.1155/2018/7160362. eCollection 2018. PMID: 30123254  

See a full list of Robert Harrison's publications

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