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Murray Benjamin Sachs

Murray Benjamin Sachs


Sachs, a director of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1962 and 1964, respectively, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and auditory physiology from MIT in 1966. From 1966 to 1968, Sachs served in the U.S. Navy at the Underwater Sound Lab in New London, Connecticut, where he conducted underwater submarine-to-submarine acoustic communications work. From 1968 to 1969, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge in England.

Sachs came to Johns Hopkin in 1970 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and gradually moved up the ranks. He was appointed professor of neuroscience in 1981, as professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery in 1983, and as director of the Center for Hearing Sciences in 1986. From 1991 until 2007, he served as Massey Professor and director of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. From 1999 until 2007, he was the founding director of the Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute, a joint venture between the School of Medicine and the Whiting School of Engineering.

Sachs’ primary research interest was the neural processing of speech. His work included neurophysiological and modeling studies of neural encoding in the inner ear and processing of the neural code by populations of neurons in the central nervous system. He did pioneering work on the mechanisms by which the cochlea transforms sound patterns into patterns of spike discharges in the auditory nerve.

Sachs received numerous awards, including the von Bekesy Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America, the Award of Merit of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, and the Life Achievement Award of the American Auditory Society for his contributions to auditory neuroscience. He was the Biomedical Engineering Society Distinguished Lecturer in 2000, and a Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator. Sachs was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a founding fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. He served as chair of the AIMBE College of Fellows.

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