Hearing Research Pioneer

Young was a ‘giant of auditory neurophysiology.’

Eric Young

Eric Young, professor emeritus of biomedical engineering, whose pioneering research in auditory neuroscience spanned decades, died Feb. 3, 2024, after a weekslong illness. He was 78.

Young joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1975, where he spent the rest of his career and earned joint appointments in the departments of Neuroscience and Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery in the school of medicine. He also served as director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hearing and Balance before retiring from the faculty in 2015.

In research over more than 40 years, Young’s main focus was in understanding the biological basis of common hearing impairments in the brain’s auditory system. In efforts to restore normal representations of sound in the auditory nerve, he led research to design algorithms that mimic sound signals.

“Eric was a giant of auditory neurophysiology who set the stage for fundamental biological questions, groundbreaking discoveries and educational mentorship that deeply influenced many of the field’s current leaders,” says Michael Miller, the Bessie Darling Massey Professor and Director of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins. “Eric’s fundamental research contributions have been key to understanding the basis of hearing impairments caused by sound exposure, environmental toxins and genetic defects that affect millions of people. His absence will be profoundly felt by all of his colleagues, mentees and those who knew him.”

Young earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering at the California Institute of Technology and his doctorate in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins. He did his postdoctoral studies in auditory neurophysiology at the University of Chicago.

A fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the Acoustical Society of America, Young published 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and scores of book chapters. He received awards from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders and the Association for Research in Otolaryngology.