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Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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Paul R. Sanberg: Remembering the ‘Fifth Beatle’ and his connection to USF and hearing loss research

Sir George Henry Martin, who died March 8, was a world-renowned record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician who was considered “the Fifth Beatle” for his work as the producer of over 200 recordings by The Beatles.

Sir George was one of the earliest supporters of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), a nonprofit member organization founded at the University of South Florida to recognize and encourage academic inventors and innovators. The NAI has grown in just six years to over 3,000 individual inventor members from more than 200 universities and research institutes.

Sir George served as a member of the NAI Fellows Selection Committee. From the beginning, he saw that the mission and goals of the NAI supported creative and innovative initiatives, including research on hearing loss prevention for musicians.

He suffered from progressive hearing loss and tinnitus, which he attributed to over-exposure to the very music he helped shape. Following his diagnosis, Sir George spent the remainder of his years encouraging research, education and awareness of the life-changing impact of noise-damaged hearing loss for the betterment of the younger generations of artists.

I had the privilege of meeting him in 2001 when we both spoke at the Wings of Hope Brain Restoration Awareness Weekend in Oregon, where we immediately bonded in support of the Margot Anderson Brain Restoration Foundation and became friends.

As an amateur “garage” guitarist, I was awed and a bit intimidated by his stature and accomplishments, until I ran into him and his wife, Judy, at a local grocery store and we started talking. They were very gracious and invited me to join them for dinner at the hotel. We talked about science and innovation, his history with losing his hearing, and new possibilities for brain repair through stem-cell research.

After that first meeting, we parted friends, with an invitation for my wife, Cyndy, and me to visit him and his wife at their English country home, which we did a few years later. We had a great time. He showed us around his property and a small guest house where the Beatles used to stay and play. He helped carry our luggage up to the guest room, which had a painting by Linda McCartney above the bed.

Again, we talked about science and innovation related to the brain and about his passion to help musicians and others avoid hearing loss and tinnitus. He was very supportive of research in this area, including promoting the use of sound breaks and quiet rooms backstage for musicians, and ear protection. When I see musicians wearing Musician’s Earplugs or In EarMonitors (IEM) that help protect hearing and provide safe volume, I think about George Martin and his dedication to saving hearing.

A man of many talents, Sir George Martin and his contributions to society will be remembered fondly by millions of people around the world.

Dr. Paul R. Sanberg is senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development at USF and president of the National Academy of Inventors. As a neuroscientist researching in the areas of brain repair and neurodegenerative disease, he is an inventor on more than 110 patents.

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