The first meeting was held in 1964 in Düsseldorf when Sigurd Rauch (1916-2003) invited a small group of young ENT specialists interested in research. The group sat around a table in the ENT Department and discussed inner ear biochemistry.

Sigurd Rauch was a very active, young investigator with a lot of stimulating ideas. His unusual drive to discover and do everything led to certain conflicts and unsteadiness in his career, which resulted in his moving from one place to another and eventually disappearing from the inner ear scene. Nevertheless, he was the father of these meetings.

Between 1964 and 1967 four Workshops on Inner Ear Biochemistry (Arbeitstagung für Innenohrbiochemie) were held in Germany but soon the meetings became more international. In 1968, the meeting took place for the first time outside Germany, namely in Zürich, where its name was extended from "Workshop on Inner Ear Biochemistry" to "Workshop on Inner Ear Biology". Since then, the meeting has been held every year in different places and in different countries - wherever it has been invited. The number of participants grew rapidly but soon stabilized around 100-200.

The workshops have always had a very special character, which it has been possible to preserve over the years. The main purpose was and still is to provide the opportunity for an open exchange of ideas with open, friendly and, if necessary, hard discussion. In this way, people get to know each other and become friends, even if they have differing opinions. One can stick one's neck out without the risk of being decapitated immediately, and not every word has to be published.

This workshop has always been the ideal place for biologists and otolaryngologists to meet and discuss common problems. In our scientific community there is a certain danger that physicians and biologists will evolve in different directions, and that they will eventually not understand each other any more. The otolaryngologist, in addition to having clinical commitments and being actively involved in inner ear research, has an important role to play in holding things together. It is to be hoped that this species, which is becoming increasingly rare, will not die out completely.

H. Spoendlin, 1990


A 50-year “Scientific Timeline” of the IEB Workshops was presented by Prof. Jonathan F. Ashmore at the 50th IEB Workshop held in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.

Click here for a PDF of the presentation.