New chief of otolaryngology heralds era of expansion for Stanford's ENT programs

STANFORD, Calif. ­ Robert Jackler, MD, an expert in diseases of the ear and the base of the skull, has been named chief of otolaryngology at Stanford University Medical Center. With Jackler's arrival, the medical center plans to launch new clinical and research programs focused on the ear, nose and throat, in addition to growing Stanford's existing ENT programs.

For example, Jackler will work with neurosurgery, radiation oncology and other departments to create a multidisciplinary center for cranial base surgery to care for hard-to-reach tumors located beneath the brain and along the brainstem. Under his leadership, the medical center plans to establish new programs in otology & neurotology (ear), laryngology (voice), adult audiology (hearing testing), and a hearing device center focused on such innovative technologies as the cochlear implant, an implantable device that restores hearing to deaf individuals by electrically stimulating the hearing nerve. Plans call for growth in existing programs in other areas including head and neck oncology, sinus surgery and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

'As both hearing and voice fall within otolaryngology, the study of human communication will be a major focus of our efforts,' said Jackler, who was a professor of otolaryngology and neurological surgery at UC-San Francisco prior to joining Stanford. He envisions these research efforts functioning within a multidisciplinary Stanford center for human communication, to be supported by the school, grants and philanthropy. 'The idea is not just to treat illness, but to restore, even enhance, human communication by applying the latest scientific knowledge and Silicon Valley technologies.'

Laying the foundation for these expansion plans, otolaryngology - now a division of the Department of Surgery - will become a separate department after receiving the necessary approvals from the university and School of Medicine. Jackler has recruited three new ENT faculty members and over the next three to five years plans to double the current size of the ENT faculty. 'We're going to take an outstanding division and turn it into a world-class department,' he said.

A native of Maine, Jackler earned his MD from Boston University, completed an otolaryngology residency at UCSF and an otology/neurotology fellowship at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles before joining UCSF's faculty in 1986. He specializes in microsurgery of the ear and skull base and the removal of deeply embedded tumors located near the brainstem. He pioneered new surgical techniques that provide unobstructed access to such tumors (including many previously considered inoperable) and allow them to be removed without damaging delicate nerves in the brain. At Stanford, Jackler will work closely with neurosurgery and will have a significant presence in the clinical cancer center slated to open in the spring of 2004.

'Rob is an internationally regarded leader in otology and neurotology, and we're very pleased to have him,' said Thomas Krummel, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery and the Emile Holman Professor of Surgery. 'He has a wonderful opportunity to build on the talented ENT faculty we have and expand this area into a full-scale department.'

Jackler is active in numerous professional societies, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Deafness Research Foundation and the American Neurotology Society, of which he is president. He is editor-in-chief of Otology & Neurotology, the field's leading journal; has published three textbooks including the definitive work titled Neurotology; and has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed papers. His honors include the University Hospital Prize from Boston University, several resident teaching awards from UCSF and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

In accepting his new post, Jackler said, 'I feel I've joined a wonderful family. Stanford is a world-class institution with a great spirit of innovation, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to build upon the excellence that's already here.'

One aspect that drew him to Stanford, he said, was the school's emphasis on collaboration between clinicians and basic scientists in such fields as engineering and physics. Jackler said he will encourage such collaboration and looks forward to working with basic scientists to develop new high-tech medical devices, such as a tiny implantable hearing aid of the future, that will enhance human communication.

In addition to Jackler, the newly recruited ENT faculty are Michael Kaplan, MD, a head and neck oncology specialist from UCSF; Nikolas Blevins, MD, director of otology/neurotology at Tufts-New England Medical Center; and Ed Damrose, MD, a fellowship-trained laryngologist from UCLA Medical Center.

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2023 ISSUE 1

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