Spring 2023 Newsletter

Stanford Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery


Welcome to Our Newly Announced 2023 Residency Matches.

Monica Bodd, MD, MTS

Medical School: Duke University
Undergraduate: Rice University

Hobbies: Dr. Bodd enjoys bubble tea tasting. Her family is often searching for the best bubble tea in town. She even did an "ethnography of boba" as an undergrad. She has played basketball since she was 5 years old and continues to enjoy watching college and professional games. As a more recent hobby, she’s begun bouldering which is rock climbing stripped down to its raw essentials. This has become her weekly opportunity to slow down and meet cool folks outside the Duke community. Lastly, she and her friends spend time exploring new recipes and making farm-fresh meals.


Peter Moon, MD, MS 

Medical School: Stanford University 
Undergraduate: Stanford University

Hobbies: Dr. Moon enjoys running scenic routes such as Griffith Trails in LA and 5-10K races.  He is a former competitive runner, who took first place out of over 300 participants in the Air Force 7K Race and was commended by Brigadier General (Sacheon, Korea 2015).  He also took eighth place out of 152 runners in the Asia Pacific Invitational (Guam 2011).  He is an avid supporter of the Denver Broncos, Stanford, and Texas A&M Football.  Peter also enjoys playing original soundtrack ballads on the violin, which have over 180,000 plays on YouTube/Soundcloud. Lastly, he enjoys watching Korean historical cinema (examples include 1987 and A Taxi Driver).


Varun Sagi, MD

Medical School: University of Minnesota
Undergraduate: University of Minnesota 

Hobbies: Dr. Sagi enjoys playing pick-up basketball and watching the NBA, tennis, Formula 1 racing, fantasy football and hiking.  His most recent hike was El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. 


Shannon Wu, MD

Medical School: Case Western Reserve University
Undergraduate: University of California, Berkeley

Hobbies: Dr. Wu loves cycling and exploring new paths. She enjoys the excitement of competing against herself and watching her times improve on the Strava leaderboards. She took up skiing during medical school. She enjoyed her first ski trip out West last year and was awestruck by the gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe from the slopes of Heavenly. Lastly, she enjoys playing tunes from pop culture songs as well as classical favorites. She’s currently working on Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.


Amar Sheth, MD

Medical School: Yale University
Undergraduate: University of Texas, Austin

Hobbies: In his free time, Dr. Sheth enjoys running short distances (2-3 miles) on the treadmill, cycling 20-30 miles, exercising on the stair-master, spinning on the Peloton, and playing intramural sports. Since he was young, he mostly read historical fiction novels; more recently, he has started to listen to self-growth audiobooks. He also picked up knitting scarves and watching anime during his research year. Lastly, he enjoys inviting friends over for brunch and dinner, with meals made from scratch.

Alan Cheng, MD received an R01 grant from NIH/NIDCD.

Alan G. Cheng, MD
Edward C. and Amy H. Sewall Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and, by courtesy, of Pediatrics, Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Director of the Clinician-Scientist Training Program

Dr. Cheng has been awarded an R01 grant from NIH/NIDCD for his project “Molecular basis of mammalian cochlear regeneration.” This will be a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Cheng and Ricci Labs at Stanford and the Hertzano Lab in the intramural program at NIH. The collaboration has been designed to test whether a reprogramming approach can stimulate the regeneration of hair cells in the mature mammalian cochlea, with the long-term goal of reversing hearing loss in humans.

John Sunwoo, MD is a principal investigator on an R01 grant from NIH.

John B. Sunwoo, MD
Edward C. and Amy H. Sewall Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and, by courtesy, of Dermatology, Chief of Head & Neck Surgery, Director of Head & Neck Cancer Research

In collaboration with Drs Guillem Pratx of Radiation Oncology (Radiation Physics) and Yunzhi Peter Yang of Orthopedic Surgery, Material Science and Engineering, and Bioengineering at Stanford University, Dr. Sunwoo has been awarded an R01 grant from the NIH for their project titled, “Preclinical microphysiological tumor models for nuclear medicine.” This project will develop a quantitative and high-resolution approach to image these head and neck cancer patient-derived organoids using an array of clinical PET radiotracers, thus bridging the gap in physical scale that exists between clinical tumor imaging and microphysiological tumor models.

Marie Kubota, MD, PhD received an R21 grant from NIH.

Dr. Kubota has been awarded an R21 grant from NIH for her project, “Molecular etiology of virus-induced sensorineural hearing loss.” She obtained her MD from Kyushu University in Japan, and spent four years as a resident clinician, specializing in Otorhinolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. She saw hearing loss patients diagnosed at early neonatal ages and adult patients suffering from sudden deafness. An important etiology of congenital and acquired hearing loss is a viral infection. However, “virus-induced hearing loss,” or viral ototoxicity is a relatively uninvestigated area of research. She completed her doctor’s degree and obtained a PhD in the Department of Virology, at Kyushu University in Japan, where she specialized in Virology and focused on deafness-causing viruses, including mumps and measles viruses. Using X-ray crystallography, her work proposed a mechanism for viral entry into human tissues. Since joining Dr. Stefan Heller’s lab at Stanford OHNS in 2017, her postdoctoral research has been focusing on characterizing mouse cochlear cell subtypes and investigating their regenerative potentials. Based on her dual expertise in Virology and Inner Ear Biology, her project will establish small animal experimental models for direct inner ear infection with mumps virus and murine cytomegalovirus. Using the models, the research aims at understanding the etiology of the tissue -damage direct viral infection or immune response- in the virus-administrated cochleae, and to analyze the mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level. Her future aim is to expand this work to other human viruses significant for sensorineural hearing loss.

The Pepper Research Lab led Jon-Paul Pepper, MD received a grant from the Stanford Institute for HAI.

Jon-Paul Pepper, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and, by courtesy, of the Surgery

As a collaboration between Stanford Medicine’s OHNS and Biomedical Data Science departments, the Pepper Research Lab has developed a video-based algorithm that dynamically assesses facial symmetry. This project sits at the intersection of clinical medicine and machine learning and is titled “Automated Assessment of Facial Palsy in Patient Videos via Deep Learning.” 

The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial intelligence (HAI) selected this project as a 2022 Seed Grant Recipient, awarding the Pepper Lab team members $75,000. Dr. Jon-Paul Pepper (MD), director of the Stanford Facial Nerve Center, and Dr. Serena Yeung, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Data Science, are the co-PIs for this project. Ali Mottaghi is a PhD student in Electrical Engineering at Stanford and has developed the pilot version of the algorithm. Aya Aziz, Mia Muoneke, Ariana Kalili, and Noor Hassan are the Stanford undergraduates working on this project.

Unilateral facial paralysis is often caused by Bell’s palsy and is a common condition worldwide. Physicians typically must assess disease severity manually; existing efforts to automate this process are limited to analyzing still-frames from patient videos.

The algorithm has been trained on patient videos scored with the eFACE metric, a clinician-validated grading scale that assesses palsy severity. It uses accurate facial landmark detection to track dynamic asymmetry and produce discrete measurements. The aim of this project is to create an automated and efficient system of scoring unilateral facial palsy, with the goal of embedding the algorithm into an accessible mobile application.

Additionally, the Pepper Research Lab received a U24 grant from C-DOCTOR at the NIDCR.

The Pepper Research Lab has been awarded a U24 grant from C-DOCTOR for their project titled “Drug loaded, bioprinted fibrin scaffolds for use during cranial nerve repair surgery”. This C-DOCTOR Interdisciplinary Translational Project Team (ITP) funding will help create a new method for surgeons to reconstruct nerve injuries. The lab will use cutting-edge small molecules to enhance nerve regeneration and apply these therapeutics with bioprinted nerve conduits specialized for this application.

Elizabeth Erickson-DiRenzo, PhD received a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Elizabeth DiRenzo, PhD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and, by courtesy, of Music

Dr. Erickson-DiRenzo has been awarded a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for her project titled, “Stanford Medicine COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists”. The long-term goal of this funding is to increase the support for, and retention of, outstanding early-career faculty who are conducting high-impact research while also being burdened with significant caregiving demands because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant supports her overarching programmatic research goal to use techniques from the basic sciences and human clinical sciences to improve the prevention and management of voice disorders. The first major objective of her research program is directed at improving our understanding of biological defenses that are essential for maintaining vocal fold health. Specifically, she investigates how external factors implicated in the development of voice disorders, notably cigarette smoke (CS) and e-cigarette vapor (EV), compromise the structure and function of the vocal fold epithelial barrier. The second major objective of her research program is investigating clinical and quality-of-life outcomes in adult patients with voice disorders who are undergoing surgical or behavioral interventions. 

Kara Meister, MD is a principal investigator on a grant from Wellcome Leap.

Kara Meister, MD, FAAP, FACS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, Associate Clinic Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology

Dr. Meister has been awarded a Wellcome Leap Program project grant, in collaboration with Drs Tom Soh, Paul Wang, Angela Rogers, and Billie-Jean Martin. Under this study, titled “Continuous Monitoring of Vital Biomarkers during and post-surgery,” her team will assess the utility of monitoring biomarkers perioperatively to improve the outcomes of surgical patients.