The Leadership of Stanford Otolaryngology:
A historical perspective

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The historical caption reads (the stylistic description is preserved for the historical accuracy): "Mrs. John P. Watney of Redwood City keeps Jacqueline preoccupied while Dr. Mark Rafaty, resident in otolaryngology, and nurse Johan Baker check equipment before hearing test. Aided by computers, Stanford University medical researchers can now measure the slightest hearing loss in the youngest infants."

Photo by Edgar W.D. Holcomb, San Francisco.


Stanford’s predecessor school, the Cooper Medical College of the Pacific in San Francisco, was founded in 1870. By the late 19th century it had an eye, ear, nose, and throat clinic.


Professor of Surgery Levi Cooper Lane (1828-1902) was a pioneer head and neck surgeon. A founder of the Cooper Medical College (Predecessor of Stanford School of Medicine), he publishes Surgery of the Head and Neck, the first textbook of head and neck surgery (1180 pages). 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.


The Cooper Medical School became Stanford University School of Medicine in 1909. Adolph Barkan (1844-1935) was appointed the first professor of structures and diseases of the eye, ear, and larynx and 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.


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 1959.


Stanford School of Medicine school remained in San Francisco until 1959 when it moved to Palo Alto. 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) implants the first multichannel cochlear implant in collaboration with Stanford electrical engineering.


F. Blair Simmons (1930-1998) serves as head of the Division of Otolaryngology from 1965 to 1980 and establishes Stanford as a true academic program.


Dr. Richard Goode (1935-2019) joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1966 as an assistant professor of surgery, specializing in otolaryngology. He helped shape the field of facial plastic surgery and is known for advances he made in sleep surgery.

In 1970, he invented the Goode T-tube, a ventilator used to drain infections of the middle ear, which is still in use today. He also developed surgical nasal splints, implantable hearing aids and contributed to research on the development of the cochlear implant, an electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is deaf or severely hard of hearing.


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.


For 20 years, from 1980 to 2000 the Division of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery was ably led by Willard E. Fee Jr. (1943-).


Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital opens.


Richard L. Goode (1935-2019) serves as interim chair from 2000 to 2003. Dr. Goode played an outsized role in the advancement of the fields of facial plastic surgery, sleep surgery and the physiology of hearing.


In 2003, the small program which had been a division of surgery for nearly a century, became and 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.


Department moves to new academic home at 801 Welch Road.


Stanford Cancer Center opens.


Residency expanded from 3 to 4 per year.


Perkins Microsurgery Laboratory dedicated.


Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss launched.


Stanford Ear Institute opens.


Professor of Surgery Levi Cooper Lane, a founder of the Cooper Medical College (Predecessor of Stanford School of Medicine) (1828-1902) 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.

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


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

New Stanford Children’s Hospital opens.


New Stanford Hospital opens. OHNS department grows from 5 to 53 faculty members from 2003-2019.


54 faculty (18 Professors, 11 Associate Professors, 16 Assistant Professors, 9 Instructors). 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. Search on PUBMED for “Stanford Otolaryngology” lists 367 publications.


New chair, Dr. Konstantina Stankovic, accepts the leadership position. Our faculty hold 91 competitive grants and an annual research budget exceeds $13 million.


Stanford Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery is ranked #1 in the country by US News and World Report

Amy Sullivan (L), cochlear implant patient, and research associate, Laurel Dent. July, 1984. Photo by Edward W. Souza, News & Publication Service, Stanford University.

— Photo courtesy of Lane Medical Library