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Dr David Sly

Senior Lecturer Clinical Technologies and Neuroscience
Molecules to Medicine (Postdoctoral Translational Research Internship), Victorian Government, Australia; PhD, University of Melbourne, Australia; BSc (Hons), Monash University, Australia; BA, Monash University, Australia

Biography

  • Dr David Sly is a neuroscientist, Senior Lecturer and Convenor of the Clinical Technologies Major within the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree.
  • Dr Sly has over two decades of experience in Medtech research. Prior to Swinburne his role was at the Department of Surgery (Otolaryngology) at the University of Melbourne leading students and staff surgeons, scientists, psychologists, audiologists and engineers toward improving cochlear implants and other hearing-enabling medical technologies and treatments. He was also Deputy Head of Department for 5 years and holds an Honorary Fellow Appointment at the Department of Surgery (Otolaryngology). His research expertise includes medical device devopment, neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, sensory systems, surgery, biomedical electronics and mobile diagnostics, using approaches ranging from cellular, surgical, neuropharmacological, imaging and clinical diagnostics.
  • Dr Sly leads clinical investigations of hidden hearing loss and hearing technologies for the Australian Defence Force and led research translation and entrepreneurship related to defence acoustic and medical technologies. He has participated in multiple technology accelerators including Molecules2Medicine, MedTech's Got Talent, Melbourne Accelerator Program, D.Start (Defnece) and ANDHealth Accelerate. This has included development of mobile headphone and wearable electronics technology on mobile platforms. He co-founded and co-directed Nuraloop [now Nura] headphones and is cofounder and co-director of Sonic Skunkworks. He has worked with Defence Science Institute, Defence Health Foundation, Defence Bases, Defence Science Technology Group and Defence Industry. 
  • His Clinical (Medical) Technologies Laboratory at Swinburne develops modern mobile and wearable technologies at the nexus of human biology, design and electronics engineering. He is the Swinburne planning team lead for Smart Devices, Bionics and Implantables at the new Aitkenhead Centre for Medical Discovery. He also conducts acoustic research in the anechoic chamber facilities within Swinburne's Radiofrequency Dosimetry Laboratory.

Research interests

Neuroscience; Hearing loss; Hearing augmentation; Autonomic neuroscience; Acoustics; Auditory neuroscience; Medical technology; Anxiety disorders; Virtual reality; Augmented reality; Hearables; Medical Diagnostics; 3D audio; Sensory Neuroscience; Neurobiology of Sleep; Hidden hearing loss; Hearing diagnostics

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Anxiety monitoring and management with wearable sensors: Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. This project explores if wearable physiological sensors can be used to monitor and predict anxiety attacks and whether biofeedback can reduce anxiety responses. Projects may involve the assessment of existing physiological monitoring systems as well as the creation of novel systems using smart mobile platforms (e.g. Apple Watch). 

Augmented-reality 3D hearing: 3-D audio is the next-generation of audio technologies with application in hearing aids, assistive technologies, robotics, education, music, surveillance, movies and virtual reality gaming. These projects would suit students with interests in the physiology and psychology of sound localisation or students interested in the construction of wearable 3D sound technologies.

Effectiveness of singing training on physiological adaptations: Singing teachers often use ambiguous language about correct posture and muscle positions when training their students. This project will examine some of the physiological and anatomical responses to teaching instructions and to what extent training can improve these. This would suit students interested in music and physiological monitoring.

Hearables: Headphone-worn medical technology: The ear has long been a site of wearable medical technologies such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. This project will develop and test “hearables” which package medical sensors into consumer headphones for monitoring hearing loss, sleep, performance, stress and cardiovascular function. This project would suit students with interests in physiological monitoring or biomedical electronics.

Hearing diagnostics for hidden hearing loss: Recent advances have radically changed our understanding of the neurobiology of noise-induced hearing loss. We now believe that humans are endangering their hearing at sound levels much lower than previously thought and this is causing ‘hidden hearing loss’. This project will evaluate tests that might accurately measure this damage, building on Dr Sly's research in defence and other populations

Mechanics of the amphibian ear: Anurans (frogs and toads) lack an outer ear, with the tympanic membrane located directly on the skin surface behind the eye, which permits easier investigation of middle and inner ear function.  This project will explore several mechanisms of hearing in this model including the nature of otoacoustic emission propagation from the inner ear and mechanisms of noise-induced hearing loss.

Next-Generation Hearing Diagnostics: 3.5 million Australians suffer from hearing loss, 1/3 of which is attributed to noise exposure. Recent advances have radically changed our understanding of the biology of noise-induced hearing loss. This project builds on Dr Sly's existing research in defence and other populations in developing new neurologically-based medical devices and treatments for hearing loss

Honours

Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Anxiety monitoring and management with wearable sensors: Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. This project explores if wearable physiological sensors can be used to monitor and predict anxiety attacks and whether biofeedback can reduce anxiety responses. Projects may involve the assessment of existing physiological monitoring systems as well as the creation of novel systems using smart mobile platforms (e.g. Apple Watch). 

Augmented-reality 3D hearing: 3-D audio is the next-generation of audio technologies with application in hearing aids, navigation for the blind, robotics, education, music, surveillance, movies and virtual reality gaming. These projects would suit students with interests in the physiology and psychology of sound localisation or students interested in the construction of wearable 3D sound technologies.

Detecting ultradian rhythms with wearable sensors: Ultradian rhythms are biological circadian rhythms of 20 min to 6-hour duration that repeat throughout the day. This project will utilise wearable sensors for continuous monitoring of body temperature, activity, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate and attempt to identify ultradian rhythms in these data and correlate them to measures of alertness.

Hearables: Headphone-worn medical technology: The ear has long been a site of wearable medical technologies, such as hearing aids. This project will test “hearables” that package medical sensors into consumer headphones and focus on hearables for monitoring hearing loss, sleep, performance, stress and cardiovascular function. This would suit students with interests in physiological monitoring and/or biomedical electronics.

Hearing diagnostics for hidden hearing loss: Recent advances have radically changed our understanding of the neurobiology of noise-induced hearing loss. We now believe that humans are endangering their hearing at sound levels much lower than previously thought and this is causing ‘hidden hearing loss’. This project will evaluate tests that might accurately measure this damage, building on Dr Sly's research in defence and other populations

Measuring epileptiform activity in a brain slice preparation: This project, done in conjunction with the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Electromagnetic Energy will develop electrophysiology techniques for measuring neuronal activity in the brain slices. We will use a multi-electrode array to measure pharmacologically induced epileptiform activity in-vitro. We will correlate this with changes in activity dependent dyes.

Fields of Research

  • Medical Biotechnology - 320600
  • Neurosciences - 320900
  • Acoustics And Acoustical Devices; Waves - 510301

Teaching areas

Biomedical science;Neuroscience;Medical Devices and Diagnostics;Neuroscience;Muscle biophysics;Renal Biophysics;Auditory neuroscience;Microscopy imaging;Data acquisition;Medical Instrumentation;Biomedical electronics;Physiological signal processing

Awards

  • 2021, Swinburne, Teaching Excellence Award (School of Health Science), Swinburne University of Technology
  • 2020, National, D.Start CSIRO Accelerator Program, Defence and CSIRO
  • 2020, National, ANDHealth ACCELERATE, ANDHealth (MTPConnect)
  • 2015, National, Melbourne Accelerator Program, Melbourne Accelerator Program
  • 2015, National, MedTech's Got Talent Finalist, Small Technologies Cluster

Professional memberships

  • 2011 - 2016: Chair, (Deputy) Department of Otolaryngology (Surgery), University of Melbourne, Select Country/Region
  • 2019 (current): Affiliate, Engineer's Australia, Australia
  • 2020 (current): Associate, Association of Neurophysiological Technologists of Australia, Australia
  • 2017 (current): Member, Swinburne Animals Ethics Committee, Australia
  • 2020 - 2020: Member, Co-Founder and Director Sonic Skunkworks Pty. Ltd., Australia
  • 2015 - 2015: Member, Co-Founder and Director Nuraloop Pty. Ltd., Australia