2021 Annual Chair's Message

 

Robert K. Jackler, MD
Edward C. and Amy H. Sewall Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery (OHNS) and, by courtesy, of Neurosurgery and Surgery
Department Chair

It has indeed been an honor and a privilege to lead Stanford OHNS over the past 18 years. I am immensely proud of the remarkable accomplishments achieved by our talented and dedicated faculty, trainees, and staff as together we transitioned a small division into one of the world’s most preeminent OHNS departments.  As I pass the leadership baton to Tina Stankovic next June I have every confidence that our future is brighter than ever and look forward to our next phase of programmatic development which will, no doubt, take us to even higher levels of excellence and impact.

 

— Robert K. Jackler, MD
Sewall Professor & Chair
     December 10, 2020

STANFORD OTOLARYNGOLOGY—HEAD & NECK SURGERY (OHNS) IS BLESSED WITH A WARM AND COLLEGIAL CULTURE AMONG OUR COMMUNITY OF 53 FACULTY, 25 RESIDENTS, 11 FELLOWS/INSTRUCTORS, AND 268 TOTAL OHNS DEPARTMENT MEMBERS, INCLUDING A BASIC SCIENCE RESEARCH COMMUNITY OF 110.

We strive for, and achieve, excellence in all of our core missions: clinical care, education, and research.   We are collaborative, reaching across a wide spectrum of Stanford bioscience and technology as well as in social sciences and the arts.  We are also innovative and inventive, always seeking ways of discovering improvements in diagnosis and therapy and means to translate our inventions not only from bench to bedside, but also on to the marketplace.

In terms of research, as we enter 2021 our faculty currently hold 91 competitive grants and our annual research budget exceeds $13 million. Our laboratory research is conducted in the new Biomedical Innovations Building, three buildings in the Stone complex (Grant, Always, Edwards), the Lokey Stem Cell Building, and in the Center for Clinical Sciences Research.  In terms of academic productivity, a search on PUBMED for “Stanford Otolaryngology” lists 367 publications in 2020.

In clinical care, we have depth, breadth, and high levels of expertise in all of the specialty areas of contemporary OHNS. We enjoy the finest clinical facilities at Stanford and cutting-edge technology in our clinics and operating rooms. Following are the specialties and locations: Rhinology, Laryngology, Facial Plastics, and Comprehensive ENT Clinics at 801 Welch Road, Integrated Head and Neck Center at Blake Wilbur, Pediatric ENT at Mary Johnson Center, Stanford Ear Institute at Watson Court, and Sleep Surgery at Redwood City Stanford North Campus. Our remarkable group of clinician-scholars in training ensures a bright future for our field. Our peerless basic and translational science faculty are both immensely creative and highly productive.

Primary Missions

1) To provide the highest possible quality care to our patients.

2) To provide the finest possible educational experience for our trainees including medical students, residents, fellows, and physicians in practice.

3) To sustain a culture which fosters imagination, creativity, innovation, and discovery.

4) To engage in high impact basic and translational research seeking improved understanding of causes of disease, more efficient diagnosis, and introduction of novel therapies.

5) To invent new technological applications designed to optimize therapy of challenging clinical problems as well as to overcome disabilities brought on by illness.

6) To collaborate widely with Stanford bioscience and engineering and worldwide across industry and academia to join our quest to overcome otolaryngological diseases.

 

 

Stanford OHNS Faculty and Trainees
(June 2019 – no group 2020 photo due to COVID)

 

Our Faculty Leaders in Stanford Medicine

Stanford OHNS is highly represented among leadership of Stanford School of Medicine and our two Medical Centers.  This affords abundant opportunity for mentorship in both academic and health care delivery mentoring.  Many of our faculty have participated in one of the several leadership development programs offered at Stanford.

Lloyd Minor
Dean
Stanford SoM

Eben Rosenthal
Medical Director
Stanford Cancer Center

John Sunwoo
Associate Dean
Academic Affairs

Peter Santa Maria
Associate Director
SPARK

Tony Ricci
Associate Dean
Graduate Education
Postdoctoral Affairs

Robson Capasso
Associate Dean
Digital Health

Faculty 2021

The core strength of Stanford OHNS is its outstanding faculty.  In 2003, the year we became a department, we had 5 faculty at Stanford. We begin 2020 with 54 faculty at Stanford (18 Professors, 11 Associate Professors, 16 Assistant Professors, 9 Instructors).  Our full time Stanford academic faculty come from diverse training backgrounds with only two having done their OHNS residency at Stanford – making us perhaps the least inbred of any major national program.  An additional 7 affiliated teaching faculty include 5 at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and 2 at the Palo Alto Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.  We also have an expanding panel of 11 affiliated community otolaryngologists in our University Health Care Alliance offices in San Ramon (3), San Jose (1), Los Gatos (3), and Emeryville (3). A member of our Packard Children’s Health Alliance is located in Walnut Creek.

 

 

Welcoming New Chair in June 2021

Konstantina Stankovic, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery (OHNS)
Chief of the Division of Otology and Neurotology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Stanford OHNS Department Chair, June 2021

I am delighted to share the excellent news that our department will have a new leader in 2021.  Konstantina Stankovic, MD, PhD is Director, Division of Otology and Neurotology Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) where she is the Sheldon and Dorothea Buckler Chair in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the Harvard Medical School.  Tina grew up in Croatia and came to the US as a teenager.  For her undergraduate studies, she majored in physics and molecular biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Tina completed her MD and PhD degrees through the combined Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. Subsequently, she undertook both OHNS residency and neurotology fellowship at MEE and Harvard Medical School and stayed on to join the faculty in 2008.  In 2018, Tina was appointed Chief of the Division of Otology & Neurotology, one of the world’s largest and most academically productive programs.

Tina is an auditory neuroscientist and a neurotologic surgeon with a research focus on sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Her research focuses upon improving diagnostics and therapeutics for deafness, and to understanding the molecular mechanisms of SNHL. She has received numerous awards, including the Association of MIT Alumnae award for academic excellence, the Henry Asbury Christian Award for outstanding performance in research and scholarly activities at Harvard Medical School, the Burt Evans young investigator award from the National Organization for Hearing Research, the Thomas A. McMahon Mentoring Award from Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, and the Benjamins Prize from the Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum.  She is past president of the American Auditory Society. She has given Distinguished Professor, Guest of Honor, and Keynote lectures on her research and clinical practice nationally and internationally.

Tina will be joining Stanford with her husband, Alex, of 28 years and their three sons, Michael (18), Gabriel (16) and Raphael (10). Alex is currently Alvin H. Howell Professor of Electrical Engineering at Tufts University and will be joining SLAC as a Distinguished Fellow.

Gratitude to the search committee, co-chaired by Radiation Oncology Chair Quynh Le and Ophthalmology Chair Jeff Goldberg,  as well as both Deans Lloyd Minor and Linda Boxer for diligent efforts they put in conducting a comprehensive search with a highly talented and accomplished pool of candidates.

Tina will commence her Stanford appointment in June 2021. 

We all look forward to warmly welcoming her!

 

 

Leadership of Stanford Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery (OHNS): Historical Perspective

Stanford’s predecessor school, the Cooper Medical College of the Pacific in San Francisco, was founded in 1870.  By late 19th century it had an eye, ear, nose and throat clinic.   Cooper Professor of Surgery Levi Cooper Lane (1828-1902) was a pioneer head and neck surgeon.  In 1896 Lane published the first textbook of head and neck surgery.  Lane is remembered today by the Stanford School of Medicine’s Lane Library (initially founded from his extensive book collection) and the Lane Surgery Center (named in 2017) in which most OHNS surgery is conducted.

Cooper Medical School became Stanford University SOM in 1909. Adolph Barkan (1844-1935) was the first Chief of Otolaryngology at the newly formed school.  The Barkan collection of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology books provides a superb historical resource in Stanford’s Lane library. Edward Cecil Sewall (1875-1957) was the next chief serving from 1911 to 1940.  Sewall was a Stanford graduate in the class of 1898 and the valedictorian of the Cooper Medical School in 1902. Originally practicing eye, ear, nose, and throat, he limited his practice to otolaryngology from 1914.  He served as Chief of Otolaryngology for the time of his joining the faculty at the inception of the Stanford School of Medicine until his retirement in 1940.  Sewall is remembered for an orbital retractor which bears his name.  He and his wife Amy had no children. They left a generous endowment to further the goals of Stanford’s otolaryngology department which now supports five OHNS faculty members and has a market value of over $20 million. 

The school remained in san Francisco until 1959 when it moved to Palo Alto. Robert C. McNaught  (1906 -1986), remembered for the McNaught laryngeal keel, led the program from 1940 to 1957.  Like many of his contemporaries McNaught chose to remain in San Francisco when the program moved south.  In the early years in Palo Alto the program was run by community practitioners Lee Shahinian (1909-2004) and William F. Baxter (1924-2008).  F. Blair Simmons (1930 – 1998) served from 1965 to 1980 and established Stanford as a true academic program. For the next 20 years, the program was ably led by Willard E. Fee Jr. (1943 -) followed by Richard L. Goode (1935 - 2019) as interim (2000-2003).  In 2003, thesmall program which had been a division of surgery for nearly a century, became an independent department with newly recruited Robert K. Jackler (1954 -) as its inaugural chair. The establishment of OHNS as an independent department heralded a period of rapid growth.  In 2021 we will welcome Konstantina Stankovic (1969-) as the 10th leader of Stanford OHNS and its second Chair.

History Milestones

1896    Levi Cooper Lane (1828 – 1902) A founder of the Cooper Medical College (Predecessor of Stanford School of Medicine) publishes Surgery of the Head and Neck (1180 pages)

1909    Stanford School of Medicine Created in San Francisco

1909    Adolf  Barkan (1845 – 1935) appointed first professor of structures and diseases of the eye, ear, and larynx

1959    Stanford School of Medicine moved to Palo Alto

1964     Blair Simmons implants the first multichannel cochlear implant in collaboration with Stanford electrical engineering.

1977    First post-residency fellowship established. (facial plastics/head & neck surgery) – beginning emphasis on post -residency, sub-specialty training which has grown to encompass programs in all sub-specialties of OHNS.

1991    Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital opens

2003    Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery awarded departmental status  (from 1909 to 2003 Stanford OHNS had been a Division of the Department of Surgery)

2004    Department moves to new academic home at 801 Welch Road

2004    Stanford Cancer Center opens

2005    Residency expanded from 3 to 4 per year.

2006    Perkins Microsurgery Laboratory dedicated

2012    Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss launched

2015    Stanford Ear Institute opens

2017    Residency expanded from 4 to 5 per year, T32 program begins

2018    New Stanford Children’s Hospital opens

2018    Stanford OHNS achieves #2 ranking on US News and #5 recipient of NIH funding

2019    New Stanford Hospital opens

2020  Major new OHNS laboratory facilities opens in the brand new Biomedical Innovations Building

2003 -2020 Growth from 5 to 54 faculty members

 

 

Education

Residency Program

(Kwang Sung and Erika Shimahara)

Our immensely talented trainee population includes 25 OHNS residents, and 11 instructor/fellows: three ACGME accredited fellows (one in pediatrics, two in neurotology), and 8 instructors (two each in head & neck surgery and rhinology, one in facial plastics and reconstructive surgery, one in laryngology, and two in sleep surgery).  We also have a number of graduate students, post-doctoral research fellows, instructors, and visiting scholars.  Dozens of Stanford and visiting medical students are on rotation throughout the year.

The department has two residency tracks: a five-year “clinical track” (CT) and a seven-year “clinician scientist training program” (CSTP), which integrates two years of dedicated research following the third year of clinical training.  The CSTP has been a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funded training program.  As the NIDCD supports and conducts research in the areas of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language, the grant covers studies addressing the prevention, screening, diagnosing, and treatment of disorders of human communication.

More than 75% of our graduates complete fellowship training.  Recent residency graduates have taken positions as attendings at Cornell University, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, UCLA, and UCSF; as well as in private practice settings such as Kaiser Permanente and Stanford’s University Health Alliance. 

At the heart of the department’s education programs, the residency provides a rigorous foundation of clinical training with a broad range of experiences in head and neck surgery, otology, rhinology, laryngology, facial plastic surgery, sleep surgery, audiology, allergy and pediatric otolaryngology.  Further, residents are exposed to diverse patient populations in various clinical settings. Besides Stanford Health Care (SHC Palo Alto), the primary site in which residents spend approximately 35 months, residents rotate at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System (VA), Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford (LPCH). They also spend time in SHC sites in East Palo Alto (Stanford Ear Institute) and Redwood City (sleep surgery).

Residents are required to meet all ACGME and American Board of Otolaryngology standards and expected to master the cognitive, clinical, procedural and professional skills required to function as attending otolaryngologists.  They are assessed according to the ACGME Milestones and core competencies rubrics. 

The program’s educational curriculum is designed to help each resident achieve program aims while ensuring professional and personal growth in many possible directions: basic or translational science, patient-oriented research, bio-technological innovation, or clinical practice and medical education. 

We will reach a full complement of 27 residents this coming year (2021-22).

2020-2021 Residents

Resident education during the pandemic

 

Clinician Scientist Training Program (CSTP)

(Alan Cheng)

We are in the fifth year of our NIH funded program (CSTP), intended to produce scientist-surgeons.  To accommodate this new program, and our departmental growth, Stanford OHNS was approved by the Otolaryngology Residency Review Committee (RRC) to increase from 4 to 5 residents per year starting in 2017 for a total of 25 residents in our program by 2021.

The CSTP allows selected residents and fellows to undertake 2 years of funded research in addition to their 5 clinical years.  Our CSTP now has two tracks. One is a 7-year residency research track, which combines 5 years of clinical training in OHNS with 2 years of research training starting after the PGY2 year. This track includes current residents Grace Kim, Jason Qian, Tina Munjal, Yu-Jin Lee, Joanne Soo, and Roy Park. The second is a 2-year post-residency track, which will be used to provide a research experience for those individuals that desire an extended research experience after residency training. Both tracks are post-doctoral fellowships for otolaryngology residents, with the main difference being that the first track has the research block in the middle of residency training and the second track has the research block after residency has been completed.  Both tracks provide guidance on how to balance research and clinical responsibilities in order to prepare the trainees to become independent physician-scientists. 

Many of our residents and fellows take advantage of the rich educational environment of Stanford.  The Stanford Society of Physician Scholars provides training and mentoring core academic skills through evening sessions throughout the year.  The SPECTRUM 1 week intensive course in clinical research educates on study design and performance.  A number of our trainees and faculty have participated in the renowned Stanford Biodesign program which teaches medical device innovation and entrepreneurship.

The exceptional quality of today’s trainees insures the future of our specialty will be in the best of hands. Our residents are having great success in obtaining fellowship positions and the graduates of our instructor/fellows programs obtain excellent faculty positions. Among our residency graduating class of 2018, all 4 graduates went on to sub-specialty fellowship.

2020 Residency Graduates

Cristen Olds, MD
Fellowship: Facial Plastic Surgery - Jonathan Sykes, MD Beverly Hills, CA

Yohan Song, MD
Fellowship: Neurotology  Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary 

Varun Vendra, MD, MA
Fellowship: Head & Neck Surgery  University of Pittsburgh 

2020 “Pandemic”  Graduation

 

Fellowship – Instructor Programs

Stanford OHNS has post-residency fellowship programs in all of the clinical sub-specialties of the field: facial plastic surgery, head & neck surgery, thyroid/parathyroid surgery, laryngology, neurotology (2), pediatric OHNS (2), rhinology/sinus surgery (2), and sleep surgery (2).  Selected from among the most talented residency graduates, these future academicians enrich both our education and research programs.  Two of our current neurotology fellows, Ksenia Aaron and Adam Kaufman, are in the T32 clinician-scientist training program.

2020-2021 Instructor/Fellows

 

Educational Innovations

Nik Blevins and a team of computer scientists and engineers have created a haptic reinforced sinus and temporal bone surgical simulator.  Our Perkins Microsurgery Teaching Laboratory has newly installed LED based microscopes with high-definition video displays. Kwang Sung utilized the microsurgery lab for performing a phonomicrosugical simulation study with the residents. Twice a year Dr. Jennifer Lee, who is trained in surgical simulation, leads all OHNS residents through varied simulations such as “carotid blowout,” “anaphylaxis” and “angioedema.”

Otoinnovation

(Robson Capasso)

The Otoinnovation Lab is an accelerator of medical technology from discovery to patients. We collaborate with Stanford faculty, industry, and Stanford groups, including Biodesign and SPARK, to meet unmet medical needs in Otolaryngology. We provide coaching, mentorship, and technical resources to dozens of researchers and entrepreneurs aiming to bring discoveries through the preclinical phase. We emphasize multidisciplinary, team-based approaches to problems and testing proof-of-concept as rapidly as possible. We work together in our Otoinnovation Prototyping Lab as well as the Rodney Perkins Microsurgical Lab to test and de-risk ideas.  Two examples of active faculty driven Otoinnovation projects are novel means of drug delivery to reduce the burden of oral mucositis post radiation (PI Dr.Santa Maria), funded initially by Stanford SPARK, it is currently supported by the C-Doctor consortium of the NIDCR; and a wearable biometric device for diagnosis and rehabilitation of vestibular disorders (PI Dr. Steenerson), currently funded by Stanford Predictives and Diagnostics Accelerator (SPADA) and the Wu Tsai Neuroscience Translate grant within Stanford. 

In the last academic year, Otolaryngology was the main clinical immersion discipline for the Byers Center for Biodesign, Stanford world renowned medical technology translational project. The Otoinnovation team assisted in the immersion process and this ongoing close relationship resulted in three original projects flourishing into funded start-ups (Nasus Medical, Spirair, Auricle).  

 

 

Our Response to COVID-19

When COVID-19 arose our faculty and trainees swung into action across a broad front. Stanford OHNS has been a national leader in the response of OHNS to COVID-19.  Our 2-hour long town hall on March 19 had over 12,000 views – a substantial fraction of the world’s otolaryngologists.  Our faculty were instrumental in setting nationally accepted standards for safer practices in upper airway endoscopy, endoscopic sinus and skull base surgeries, and ear surgery – working with organization and publishing guidelines.  Our faculty and trainees have already authored an impressive total of 19 academic papers on COVID-19 related topics. I am immensely proud of the contributions to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic that our faculty, trainees, and staff have made.  Clearly, these most challenging times stimulated creativity and inspired many work diligently to make a difference.  

A sampling of COVID-19 research:

  • Fabricating digitally printed fitted face masks using the depth-sensing technology that powers Apple's Face ID to measure precise facial features (Stanley Liu)
  • Natural killer cells in COVID immune response to SARS-CoV-2 (John Sunwoo)
  • Worldwide patient tracking database on loss of taste and smell (anosmia) (Zara Patel)
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis with virucidal sprays (Jayakar Nayak)
  • Olfactory Loss of Function as a Possible Symptom of COVID-19.  (Zara Patel)
  • The Difficult Airway and Aerosol-Generating Procedures in COVID-19 (Karthik Balakrishnan)
  • Framework for prioritizing head and neck surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic (Chris Holsinger, Eben Rosenthal, John Sunwoo)
  • Exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic by e-cigarette marketers (Robert Jackler)
  • Resident teaching during COVID-19 (Tulio Valdez, JP Pepper)
  • The impact of COVID-19 on global disparities in surgical training in pediatric otolaryngology (Tulio Valdez)

Diversity, Justice, and Inclusion Efforts

(Tulio Valdez & Karthik Balakrishnan)

Our department has made a concerted effort to mentor, train, and hire a diverse population of surgeons, scientists, and residents. Increasing diversity is incredibly important to us, in enhancing the field of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, and in helping solve some of medicine’s most persistent shortcomings; such as a lack of diversity in leadership, discrimination and stereotyping by both patients and colleagues, and addressing the wage pay-gap. While our faculty population now includes 9% under-represented minorities, we are committed to continuing to make progress in this area.    

With 30% women faculty clinicians and researchers, our department is one of the nation’s leaders in faculty gender diversity. While we’re proud of that percentage, we recognize we are still a long way from parity, and continue to actively encourage, recruit, and promote women otolaryngologists and scientists.

The otolaryngology department has initiated a strategic effort to become a national specialty leader in diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion (DEI). This effort includes both internal and outward-facing initiatives.

The department has appointed two DEI officers, Dr. Tulio Valdez and Dr. Karthik Balakrishnan. Under their leadership and with the collaboration of Dr. Zara Patel and Dr. Nikolas Blevins, a department DEI committee is in development.

The department DEI team is working with funds from the Dean’s office to support thirteen projects, proposed by faculty and trainees, addressing clinical and academic questions in DEI. These projects include specific initiatives addressing targeted recruitment of medical student and resident trainees from underrepresented groups as well as leadership training and support for women and minority faculty. The DEI team is also collaborating with several DEI leaders from other Stanford departments to provide mentoring to students from underrepresented race/ethnic, LGBTQ, and socioeconomic group.

Recently published departmental work includes an examination of race disparities in the otolaryngology “pipeline” from training through faculty promotion, the history of bias against deaf individuals, disparities in postoperative opioid prescriptions, contributions of COVID-19 to head and neck cancer care disparities, and global differences in access to simulation-based education in the COVID-19 era. In the past year, otolaryngology faculty have given departmental grand rounds and national presentations on implicit bias against women, racial/ethnic minority, and LGBTQ trainees in medical education; race and socioeconomic disparities in otolaryngologic care; and disparities in head and neck cancer care including access to high-quality hospitals.

 

 

Research Overview

Stanford is a research intensive school of medicine and we are a research intensive department. Our commitment to basic and translational research is well illustrated by the growth of our annual research budget from under $5,000 (2003) to nearly an estimated $13 million (2020). We have some 12,000 sq. ft. of research space with our major laboratory in the Edwards building and additional facilities in Lokey Stem Cell, Grant, and CCSR buildings. All will coalesce into the new Biomedical Innovations Building starting construction this year with anticipated occupancy in early 2020.

 

A central theme of Stanford OHNS basic and translational research is to seek a better understanding of diseases in our field and inventing new therapies. Our research group, which is a mixture of basic scientists and surgeon – scientists, has numerous collaborations throughout Stanford bioscience and technology. A major thrust of our research is to overcome hearing loss through regenerative means. To achieve this goal we have created the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss, which is a long term, goal oriented, multidisciplinary research effort. (Heller, Ricci, Cheng, Chang, Grillet, Nicolson, Santa Maria, Blevins, Fitzgerald, Valdez, Jackler, and Minor)  

 

 

 

Basic Science

Molecular biologist Stefan Heller studies mechanisms of auditory development and strategies for inner ear regeneration.  Auditory physiologist Antony Ricci is interested in unraveling the molecular mechanisms of audition and in so doing identifying sites of intervention for the protection, preservation and restoration of hearing.   Geneticist Theresa Nicolson studies the molecular basis of the senses of hearing and balance in zebrafish.  Her lab has identified more than nine genes that are specifically required for mechanotransduction, including components of the transduction machinery.  Geneticist Nicolas Grillet studies genes required for hearing and head motion detection, and ultimately characterize the function of these genes at the molecular level.  Theoretical physicist Daibhid Maoiléidigh employs mathematical and computational approaches to investigate auditory and vestibular systems. To be of use, a mathematical model must make experimentally testable predictions and it should be clear which features of the model are critical for correspondence with experiment.

Rhinology

Sinus surgeon and immunology PhD Jayakar Nayak studies nasal immune function and mucosal regeneration in response to injury from surgery, chemicals, and toxins in human and animal model systems.   Zara Patel investigates electrical stimulation applied to damaged olfactory neurons can help improve regeneration of those nerves.

Head & Neck Cancer

Eben Rosenthal studies molecular imaging developing novel probes and agents for optical imaging, ultrasound, optoacoustic imaging, and Raman spectroscopy. John Sunwoo studies cancer immunology via a special subset of lymphocytes, called natural killer (NK) cells, which have been described to be critically important in the innate immune response to cells undergoing malignant transformation.

Pediatric OHNS

Alan Cheng studies the mechanisms underlying the development and regeneration of sensory hair cells via study of their progenitors. Tulio Valdez researches are at the interface of optics and medicine.  He studies the optical properties of otitis media and cholesteatoma to enhance diagnosis and therapy.

Facial Plastics

Jon-Paul Pepper studies facial nerve regeneration evaluating Hedgehog-responsive fibroblasts help restore the three dimensional architecture of the nerve after injury

Laryngology

Elizabeth DiRenzo Studies laryngeal mucosal biology and also the laryngeal health effects of tobacco products.

Otology & Neurotology

Nicolas Blevins leads the CardinalSim team which is an immersive simulation environment developed for the preoperative rehearsal of complex surgical procedures.  The create interactive 3D reconstructions of patient-specific anatomy allow the surgeon to see and feel structures that can influence the course of a procedure. Peter Santa Maria studies tympanic membrane regeneration and the pathophysiology of chronic otitis media.

 

Grant Funding

Our departmental faculty have more than 91 competitive extramural grants (see below).  Our basic science research community consists of 118 faculty, post-docs, researchers, students and other trainees.  At our 11th annual research retreat in October 2020, our first such event conducted virtually, the entire department participated and each of our faculty presented their research plans for the coming year. Both extramural funding and philanthropy remain strong.  Trainees present their research progress as part of our annual graduation ceremonies each June.

2020 brings new excitement as we enjoy our new laboratories in the Biomedical Innovations building and anticipate the arrival of our new chair and enter another period of programmatic growth. Through all of these exciting transitions we continue to generate high quality research and identify new targets and sites for intervention.

OHNS is among the anchor tenants in our new laboratory building which we occupied this fall and was formally dedicated in November 2020.

 

Philantropy

A number of generous donors support our research programs with over 200 gifts in 2019 with a total exceeding $8 million.  In fiscal year 2020, which ended September 1, while the number of gifts grew, the amount of giving was limited by the pandemic.  The good news is that in early FY 2021 we have already surpassed our 2020 total.  While our Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss is the major recipient, substantial gifts have also been received by our laryngology, rhinology, head & neck, and facial plastic surgery divisions over the last year.  The generosity of our donors makes an enormous impact on the success of our research programs in seeking to understand and overcome human disease.  As of late 2020, our departmental endowments total $36.8 million ($25.8 in endowed professorships and $10.9 in various funds primarily for support of research). Gratitude goes to Clifford Harris, our peerless medical development professional who most ably supports our fundraising activities. 

 

 

Clinical Services

Our clinical services continue their traditional double-digit growth annually – a trend which has been sustained annually for over a decade.  Our focus is on high quality tertiary care of complex diseases in the head and neck region.  We have 8 clinical divisions: facial plastics, head & neck surgery, laryngology, otology/neurotology, pediatric, rhinology, sleep surgery, and comprehensive ENT. 

Our clinical programs are housed in a number of locations.  Laryngology, rhinology, facial plastic surgery, and comprehensive ENT are all housed in our departmental home building at 801 Welch Road on the Stanford campus.  Our head and neck surgery program occupies most of the 3rd floor of the Blake-Wilbur building adjacent to our home building.  Across the street are our pediatric clinics at the Mary Johnson Center with additional pediatric clinic space in Los Gatos.  Both adult and pediatric otology/neurotology are situated at the Stanford Ear Institute at Watson Court while sleep surgery is headquartered on our Redwood City campus.

In the Division of Head & Neck Surgery, nine surgeons perform the full gamut of oncologic surgery for cancers of the head and neck.   Dr. Michael Kaplan is our highly versatile, extremely busy, senior head and neck cancer surgeon. Dr. Davud Sirjani leads our efforts salivary gland surgery for benign and malignant tumors.  He also performed the first endoscopic procedures (or “sialoendoscopy” ) at Stanford.  Dr. John Sunwoo and Dr. Fred Baik perform comprehensive surgical care of head and neck melanoma, including sentinel lymph node mapping and biopsy.   Three surgeons, Drs. Vasu Divi, Eben Rosenthal, and Fred Baik, manage all aspects of head and neck reconstructive surgery, performing annually over 125 microvascular free flap procedures.  Heather Starmer and two other full-time speech language pathologists deliver speech and swallowing rehabilitation in the Cancer Center. leads patients with swallowing disorders. Finally, Division Chief Chris Holsinger leads our innovative transoral robotic program in which he is joined by OHNS surgeons, Drs. Capasso, Damrose, and Sirjani

 

Dr. Lisa Orloff leads our Program for Endocrine Surgery of the Head & Neck.   Dr. Orloff heads our very active thyroid-parathyroid program and is internationally renowned for her expertise in ultrasound. She is joined in head and neck endocrine surgery by Drs. Sunwoo and Holsinger.  Dr. Julia Noel joined the head & neck endocrine surgical team in 2019, after serving as our first fellow in the this specialty.  Dr Sunwoo founded the Stanford Thyroid Cancer Tumor Board in 2020 and leads the conference which meets on Friday at 12p.  Dr Orloff’s program has brought many important innovations to Stanford Medicine, including the use of clinic-based ultrasound-guided FNA, refinements in intraoperative parathyroid assays, as well as transoral endoscopic thyroid surgery.  In 2015, Dr. Orloff began a prospective registry for patients with papillary thyroid cancer.

In our Rhinology Division, Chief Dr. Peter Hwang is constantly surrounded by international observers.  Peter has a busy practice of complex endoscopic sinus surgery, often taking on the most challenging cases.  Both he, Drs. Jayakar Nayak and Zara Patel collaborate with neurosurgical colleagues on minimally invasive endoscopic skull base surgery including a substantial census of pituitary tumors. Dr. Nayak helped to develop a transnasal approach to the odontoid and is a leading expert in empty nose syndrome.  The Stanford Sinus Center provides integrated care including cone beam CT imaging.

In our Laryngology Division, Chief Ed Damrose has special interests in rehabilitation of laryngeal paralysis and cancer of the larynx. His colleague Dr. Kwang Sung does a wide array of in office laryngeal procedures, including those requiring use of the laser. Kwang also has a strong interest in care of the professional voice, especially in entertainers. Dr. Karuna Dewan is a laryngologist with a special interest in swallowing disorders. Speech therapist Elizabeth DiRenzo provides care for a wide range of voice disorders.

In our Sleep Surgery Division, Chief Robson Capasso tackles a wide variety of procedures to alleviate obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Dr. Capasso is especially sophisticated in management of sleep disorders as he is dual trained in sleep medicine and sleep surgery. His colleague Dr. Stanley Liu, an MD/DDS oral surgeon specializes in reconstruction of the facial skeleton, such a maxillomandibular advancement, to open severe constrained upper airways. Dr. Robert Riley, one of the founders of the field of sleep surgery, collaborates with Dr. Liu on the facial skeletal surgery. Together, our sleep surgery team performs a large volume of hypoglossal nerve stimulator implants each year.

In our Pediatric Division, Chief Alan Cheng is a clinician-scientist with an expertise in children’s ear disease. Dr. Peter Koltai focuses his interest on complex sleep disorders in children.  Drs. Douglas Sidell, Karthik Balakrishnan, and Kara Meister tackle complex airway reconstruction and a variety of aerodigestive tract disorders.  Together with newly recruited faculty member Karthik Balakrishnan, who joins Stanford in January 2020, and supported by a strong package of resources form Stanford Children’s Hospital, they are organized a powerhouse destination pediatric aerodigestive center. Dr. Kara Meister has a focus on thyroid tumors in children.  Dr. Mai Thy Truong is a highly skilled pediatric ENT able to handle a wide spectrum of children’s otolaryngology problems with a special interest in vascular malformations.  Drs. Truong and Kay Chang oversee a dedicated microtia clinic and together they are surgically creating superb ear reconstructions. Drs. Kay Chang, Alan Cheng, and Iram Ahmad focus on pediatric otology at the Stanford Ear Institute. Dr. Tulio Valdez has a special interest in swallowing disorders.

In our Facial Plastics Division, Chief Sam Most has built a highly successful aesthetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgery practice.  Sam, who is known for his refined aesthetic sense and technical excellence, has special interests in rhinoplasty and rejuvenation of the aging face.  Dr. JP Pepper leads our facial nerve center and uses advanced reanimation techniques.  Oral surgeon Dr. Stanley Liu has a special interest in facial trauma and computer assisted, minimally invasive repair of facial fractures.

In our Otology-Neurotology Division located in the Stanford Ear institute, Chief Nikolas Blevins is a renaissance surgeon handling all aspects of ear care and microsurgery.  Drs. Peter Santa Maria, Jennifer Alyono, and Robert Jackler are broadly trained otologists-neurotologists with interests spanning chronic ear surgery, stapedotomy, acoustic neuroma, and cranial base tumor surgery. Dr. Kristen Steenerson is an oto-neurologist who is highly sophisticated in managing all sorts of vestibular disorders.  Dr. George Shorago is a medical otologist who sees many adult patients with hearing and balance disorders.  Matt Fitzgerald, Chief of Audiology, oversees a large group of adult and pediatric audiologists who provide diagnostic and rehabilitative services.  The Children’s Hearing Center includes pediatric otologists Drs. Kay Chang, Alan Cheng, and Iram Ahmad.  Our very active cochlear implant center performs over 130 implants per year in adults and children.

In our Comprehensive Otolaryngology Division faculty, Chief Dr. Uche Megwalu is joined by Drs. Jennifer Lee, and Courtney Chou expertly manage a wide spectrum of otolaryngology medical and surgical diseases. Dr Lee has a special interest disorders of the Eustachian tube and has now performed many endoscopies and balloon therapies of this structure.

 

 

Overview of Our Clinical Facilities

Rhinology, Laryngology, Facial Plastics, and Comprehensive ENT Clinics at 801 Welch Road, Integrated Head and Neck Center at Blake Wilbur, Stanford Ear Institute at Watson Court, and Sleep Surgery at Redwood City Stanford North Campus. The Pediatric Clinics are located in the Mary Johnson Center.

Center for Academic Medicine (opens spring 2021)

Future home of Pediatric OHNS faculty offices and administrative support

 

Global Health Programs

We have an ongoing collaboration between with the University of Zimbabwe.   Peter Koltai and Lisa Orloff are the most recent faculty members to visit (we have sent a total of 5 faculty members.)  Our goal is to send 1-2 faculty members a year. With local faculty and supported by an American donor, Dr Koltai has been creating the countries first pediatric OHNS center.  

 The Chief of OHNS at the University of Zimbabwe (Clemence Chidziva) visited Stanford in 2015.  Two junior Zimbabwe faculty visited Stanford OHNS in each of the last 3 summers.  These learning experiences have been funded by the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, the OHNS department, and the physicians were hosted by Koltai family.

Sam Most organizes an annual humanitarian mission to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in conjunction with Face-to-Face, an organization within the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  Patients treated include adults and children with congenital, post-traumatic and post-ablative defects.   

Sam Most organizes an annual humanitarian mission to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in conjunction with Face-to-Face, an organization within the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Patients treated include adults and children with congenital, post-traumatic and post-ablative defects. On his most recent trip Dr. Most was assisted by one of the Stanford OHNS residents and Elise, his daughter who is a Stanford student.