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Royal College awards Honorary Fellowship to pioneering surgeon  

17 Apr 2024

Surgeon who carried out Ireland’s first cochlear implant, Professor Laura Viani, joins new Fellows and Members at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Professor Laura Viani, the renowned surgeon, hearing sciences expert, and President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), has been made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.  

The award was presented at a diploma ceremony on Tuesday 16 April, an event to welcome the College’s newest Fellows and Members and celebrate the achievements of physicians, surgeons, dentists, travel and podiatric medicine professionals.  

Professor Viani was elected as President of RCSI in June 2022 and remains a practicing consultant otolaryngologist and neuro-otologist at Beaumont Hospital and Temple Street University Children’s Hospital, Dublin where she has been stationed since 1993.   

She established Ireland’s national cochlear implant programme more than 30 years ago and set up a multi-institutional hearing research centre involving RCSI, Trinity College Dublin, and universities in the USA and Latin America in 2016. 

Receiving the award, she said “It is a privilege and an honour to receive an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. It means a great deal to me to be recognised in this way in Glasgow by my colleagues” 

Professor Laura Viani

Presenting the award, Mike McKirdy, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, said: “Through her extraordinary achievements, Professor Viani has supported countless people affected by hearing loss, and her work is a representation of the power of medical innovation.  

“Having worked closely together as we serve our respective Colleges, it an honour to present her with this award. Today we celebrate the longstanding friendship between our College communities, and we hope to strengthen this bond as we work together to shape the future of surgery and medicine.”  

After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin in 1980, Professor Viani trained in the city as well as Manchester and Liverpool. During this time, she recognised a gap in services for profoundly deaf people in Ireland. This led her to pursue Fellowships in skull-based surgery at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge and neuro-otology at Universita Spittal in Zurich, Switzerland, before returning to Ireland in 1995 to perform the country’s first cochlear implant.  

In the same year, she established the Republic of Ireland’s first and only cochlear implant programme, which would later become the National Hearing Implant and Research Centre. She is Director of this stand-alone department at Beaumont Hospital, with a multidisciplinary team of more than 30 professionals caring for children and adults with severe to profound hearing loss from all over Ireland. 

The department’s comprehensive database soon grew to become a multi-institutional Hearing Research Centre, in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin. Professor Viani went on to establish similar research collaborations with Vanderbilt University, in the United States.  

With a strong commitment to hands-on teaching across all surgical grades, she is a popular trainer and mentor, serving as a member of the Court of Examiners of the RCSI. She is also an Honorary Associate Professor of Surgery at RCSI and an Honorary Adjunct Professor in the School of Medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. She has been a visiting Professor in the Cochlear Institutes of Sydney, Melbourne and Bahrain and she has been advisor on cochlear implantation to training centres worldwide. 

Her commitment to research, teaching and service is recognised through numerous awards spanning across her career. In recent years she has received The Philip Stell Award (2019) and an Outstanding Teaching Award from Bahrain and Middle East Otolaryngology (2019). She was also awarded the Inaugural CPL Global World Class Talent Award in 2019. She presented The Joseph Toynbee Lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine London in 2021 and was recognised by the Irish Healthcare Awards in 2023 for her outstanding contribution to health.  

She is also a past president of the Otolaryngology section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland and past president of the Student Surgical Society in the RCSI. 

Category: College

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