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
for a PDF of the presentation.