Sunil Puria, Ph.D., leading hearing researcher, named Amelia Peabody Scientist at Mass. Eye and Ear

July 26, 2016
Media Contact:
Suzanne Day
Media Relations, Mass. Eye and Ear

Boston, Mass. —  Sunil Puria, Ph.D., recently joined Massachusetts Eye and Ear as the second Amelia Peabody Scientist in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories. Dr. Puria, an electrical engineer who trained as a postdoctoral researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear from 1991 to 1997, brings more than 20 years of experience in mathematical modeling and hearing research in both academia and industry settings back to Mass. Eye and Ear, where he will direct the OtoBiomechanics Group.

“In addition to his considerable expertise on the micromechanics of middle-ear and inner-ear function, Dr. Puria brings an impressive track record in the translation of basic science from bench to clinic and an infectious enthusiasm and collaborative spirit,” said M. Charles Liberman, Ph.D., Director of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory at Mass. Eye and Ear. “We are confident that his addition to the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories will strengthen existing programs and create exciting new directions in our collective efforts to understand the normal hearing process and develop treatments for hearing loss.”

Most recently, Dr. Puria was an Associate Professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University, where he had served as faculty since 1998. In 2005, he took on the role of Chief Scientist at EarLens Corporation, a Silicon Valley startup that has developed a laser-driven hearing aid capable of broadband sound amplification. The device received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in fall 2015 and is now in the commercialization phase.

Originally from New York City, Dr. Puria earned his Bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, a Master’s degree from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from City University of New York, all in electrical engineering. He went on to obtain further training with a postdoctoral fellowship in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories and MIT, where he worked on developing techniques to characterize the middle ear and measuring cochlear pressure. The techniques he developed during this time led to translational research at Stanford and EarLens Corporation.

Throughout his career, he has authored more than 50 research papers on middle ear mechanics, cochlear mechanics, bone conduction and hearing aids published in peer-reviewed journals, and he has co-edited a textbook on the middle ear. Dr. Puria holds more than 25 U.S. and 10 international issued patents, with more than 20 patents pending internationally.

Dr. Puria served on the editorial board for the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (JARO), served on the NIH AUD study section for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) until 2014, and is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). He is currently on the ASA Psychological and Physiological Acoustics Technical Committee, the ARO Long Range Planning Committee, and he will co-chair the 2017 Mechanics of Hearing Workshop.

As the Amelia Peabody Scientist, Dr. Puria will be working on middle-ear mechanics and cochlear mechanics.

“While we have gained significant knowledge about cochlear mechanics during the past few decades of research, we still do not understand the detailed mechanisms that lead to our exquisite hearing sensitivity, frequency resolution, and dynamic range. The OtoBiomechanics Group will use powerful computational models combined with detailed imaging and physiological experiments to better understand the functional advantages the three middle ear bones have on mammalian hearing and the underlying processes that amplify sounds,” said Dr. Puria. “A deeper understanding of these mechanisms could lead to improved models of loudness used for hearing aid and cochlear implant fittings, and they could also pave the way toward improved processing strategies for hearing in noisy environments. It is an exciting time, and I’m thrilled to be back at Mass. Eye and Ear as Amelia Peabody Scientist.”

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck.  Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world's largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships.  Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2015–2016 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in the Northeast for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit