Summer 2022 Newsletter

Stanford Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Dear Colleagues,

We at Stanford Health Care OHNS are honored and humbled to be voted the 2022-2023 Best Hospital for Ear, Nose & Throat by the U.S. News & World Report. This is because we know just how many exceptional departments there are in the country, providing top-notch care to patients every day. All across the country, our colleagues continue to inspire us and to expand what is possible in medicine.

OHNS as a field has been making great strides for decades, advancing the tripartite mission of patient care, education, and research. This trajectory obliges us all to continue the forward march while being guided by the best interests of our patients. We at Stanford OHNS will continue to welcome our colleagues from across the country and the world to our beautiful campus where magnificent nature stimulates our hearts, minds, and hands to build a healthier world. We look forward to working in concert with our established and new collaborators in the true spirit of the Latin saying, Gens Una Sumus; (we are one family).

Konstantina Stankovic, MD, PhD
Bertarelli Foundation Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and, by courtesy, of Neurosurgery


Congratulations to our 2022 Graduates!

“We are proud of our recent graduates, deeply grateful for their contributions to our community, and confident about their continued professional and personal success. Graduation festivities brought us all together in person after another year of COVID challenges.”

— Dr. Stankovic


Dear Graduates, Families, Colleagues, and Friends,

It is my distinct pleasure to greet you today and to tell you how proud we are of our graduating residents and fellows.

Dear graduating colleagues, you have gone through a lot during your time at Stanford: two years of ebbs and flows of COVID, civic unrest, racial strife and mass shootings in our country, nursing strike in our hospitals, the war in Ukraine, and now a global economic downturn on the horizon.

Despite all this gloominess, we have no doubt that your education at Stanford has prepared you well for the challenges ahead.

It is clear that we are all ready to return to stability and predictability. However, we in the medical profession know better from experience – the challenges posed by ever-evolving COVID and other viruses will continue to disrupt our efforts to restore our world. This perhaps suggests that we should try instead to create a new world – better for our patients, kinder toward our colleagues, and more socially and racially just in our communities.

Dear graduates, as you undoubtedly are contemplating your professional and personal paths, an image that comes to my mind is one of a bridge. OHNS, our profession,  is positioned as a bridge between surgery and medicine while also connecting pediatric and adult patient care. You will not only have to serve as a bridge to your patients as you lead them to better health but you will also play a similar role in your families and communities. Think of the most photographed, iconic bridge in our vicinity - the great Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Just like your ascent in the OHNS profession, the bridge was a product of careful design and concentrated wisdom of centuries in selecting geometries, materials, and skillful craftsmen. Similarly to your careers, the Golden Gate bridge started as a dream - “Dreaming is a prelude to a successful change”, an Arab proverb reminds us. And the dream was followed by a careful, thoughtful implementation despite ever-present challenges and naysayers. In less than a century, the Golden Gate Bridge became a symbol not only of the city but of the American experience that, at its best, combines bold vision and careful execution.

As graduates, you have indeed connected the two sides of the bridge and you are ready to serve your patients, your profession, and your communities. However, your work is not fully done. In our times, new and sometimes unprecedented challenges are bound to come your way. I hope that you will face them with the same spirit of innovation and optimism that has brought you to this point.

Our friend, the Golden Gate Bridge is a good guide in this respect as well. After withstanding the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, around the time that some of you were born, the bridge was studied in great detail, and it was decided to add several seismic retrofits. I think that it is instructional to consider what was added – isolators, stiffeners, dissipation devices, and foundation strengthening. I would argue that you have to be prepared to add analogous elements to your lives to prepare for undesirable but inevitable shocks. Your families will continue to serve as your isolators from outside disturbances, reducing the unwanted tremors coming from outside. Successes in your clinical service will stiffen your resolve to continue to care for your patients. Your attention to your own wellness will serve as your device to dissipate the energy of various perturbations. Your foundation will be strengthened by your continued and deepened commitment to learning and innovating, as well as your devotion to our field,  your colleagues, and your friends.

Along similar lines, our dear visitor and graduation speaker, Dean Bradford, has generously shared pearls from her own experience and hard-won victories. I love her astute and eloquent observation that “we need to put on our oxygen masks first”, transforming a tedious flight announcement into a maxim to live by.

As you are ready to join the long line of your professional colleagues who trained at Stanford, I want to tell you that the doors of this department will always be open for you. Please stop by whenever you have a chance and share with us the wisdom (and jokes!) you acquired while caring for our patients. Also, please stay in touch with your classmates and junior colleagues. We at Stanford OHNS pride ourselves on being a family, and we mean it.

I have no doubt that you will achieve great things in the world of OHNS and we will always be proud of you. You will serve as a “Bridge over troubled water” in providing relief to your patients, families, and communities, fulfilling the great oath that has been guiding physicians for millennia.

Congratulations again to you and your families on this tremendous accomplishment.

Konstantina Stankovic, MD, PhD, FACS

Beraterlli Foundation Professor and Chair


Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital ranked top 10 by U.S. News & World Report.

Welcome to our newly announced 2022 Clinical Instructors!

Ahmed AlSayed, MD, MBBS
Sleep Surgery

Kyle Kimura, MD
Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Peter Kullar, MBBChir, MA, PhD

Daljit Mann, MD
Head & Neck Surgery

Vikram Padhye, MD, PhD
Sleep Surgery

Alden Smith, MD

Katherine Wai, MD
Head & Neck Surgery

Michael Yong, MD, MPH, MBA

Welcome to our newest Fellow, Grace Soon Kim!

Grace Kim, MD
Pediatric Otolaryngology

Dr. Iram Ahmad Accepted to the KL2 Mentored Career Development Program at Stanford

Dr. Iram Ahmad has been accepted to the KL2 Mentored Career Development Program at Stanford. This is a highly competitive 2-year program that is funded through the NIH’s National Center of Advancing Translational Sciences and operated under the umbrella of Stanford Clinical Translational Science Award Program. 

Her project is titled “Radiographic Changes in the Auditory Pathway to Predict Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss".

Please join us in congratulating Iram on this remarkable achievement!

Kay Chang, MD leads a Cochlear Americas Clinical Trial

Kay Chang, MD leads a clinical trial with Cochlear Americas entitled "A pivotal, prospective, multi-center, open-label study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the CochlearTM Osia 2 System in a pediatric population".

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) Has Awarded a Foreign Grant to Alan Cheng, MD

Evaluating the Role of Epithelial Basal Cells in Laryngeal Homeostasis and Disease Development

Dr. Elizabeth DiRenzo was awarded at R01 Research Project Grant from the NIH-NIDCD titled:“Evaluating the role of epithelial basal cells in laryngeal homeostasis and disease development.”\

Laryngeal diseases are common and have major impacts on human health, health care costs, and economic wellbeing. The larynx and vocal folds are lined by a protective epithelium that becomes deranged in cigarette smoke (CS)-induced laryngeal diseases. Our research focuses on determining the contribution of laryngeal epithelial basal progenitor cells to normal, injured, and diseased epithelium to develop therapies to prevent and treat CS-diseased vocal folds. Specifically, we are testing the central hypothesis that BC are critical to the formation and maintenance of normal laryngeal epithelium and CS-induced alterations in BC biology are associated with epithelial remodeling and human disease development. We are testing this hypothesis using a normal mouse model and in vivo and in vitro models of CS exposure to study laryngeal BC properties in differentiated epithelium, primary culture, and physiologically relevant three-dimensional epithelial cell culture systems. We also are evaluating how our in vivo and in vitro findings in mice relate to the human condition by evaluating the biology of BC in human laryngeal specimens from patients with Reinke’s edema, a common CS-induced laryngeal disease.

Guolan Lu, PhD has received a K99 grant from NIH entitled "Integrating Spatial Omics and Drug Imaging to Dissect the Role of Pancreatic Tumor Microenvironment in Drug Resistance".

Many anti-cancer drugs are ineffective in solid tumors, but the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. This K99/R00 award aims to identify the factors in the tumor microenvironment that drive drug resistance in pancreatic cancer by integrating single-cell drug imaging and spatial multi-omics. This project will result in computational tools to chart the spatial landscape of the cell-cell and drug-cell interactions within the tumor microenvironment, revolutionize our understanding of the drug resistance mechanisms in solid tumors, and facilitate the development of new treatment strategies to improve patient outcomes with this devastating disease.

Dean Lloyd Minor Honored by American Otological Society

The American Otological Society (AOS) has awarded the 2022 Award of Merit to Dean Lloyd B. Minor, MD, professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and dean of Stanford School of Medicine. The award recognizes his advances in the understanding of the neurophysiology of the vestibular system and for the discovery of superior canal dehiscence syndrome. The AOS Award of Merit is the highest, most prestigious honor given byone can receive from the American Otological Society.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery Foundation Has Awarded a Grant to Lindsay Moore, MD

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery Foundation has awarded a grant to Lindsay Moore, MD entitled "Panitumumab-IRDye800 to Fluorescently Detect Cholesteatoma in Surgical Resection". Dr. Stankovic serves as her mentor on this project.

NIH Has Awarded a R21 Grant to Anthony Ricci, PhD

Our recent technical advance that allows us to image the living cochlea in vivo without loss of hearing is for the first time opening new avenues or exploring how the cochlea works at the multicellular level. Our new NIH funded research project provides resources to develop the technology for obtaining functional readouts of membrane potential and calcium via genetically encoded sensors. Working with a world renowned leader in sensor development is a unique opportunity to move our field forward quickly, taking advantage of state of the art technologies to investigate cochlear function at the system level.

Stanford Spectrum-SPARK Pilot Grants Program Awarded Grant to Jon-Paul Pepper, MD

The Stanford Spectrum-SPARK Pilot Grants program awarded a grant to Jon-Paul Pepper, MD for "Topical Hedgehog modulators to enhance motor nerve regeneration after injury and repair".

Stanford Spectrum-MedTech Pilot Grants Program Has Awarded a Grant to Peter Santa Maria, MD

Project Auricle, led by former Biodesign Fellows Jay Dhuldhoya, Dr. Francis Wong and PI Dr. Santa Maria, is developing a breakthrough neurostimulation implant to restore high-frequency hearing in patients who no longer benefit from hearing aids but are not prepared to make the jump to a cochlear implant. The team's extracochlear approach has the potential to improve speech understanding while preserving residual low-frequency hearing through a less invasive and reversible surgery. Their latest Spectrum pilot grant will enable further electrode and algorithm development while supporting critical pre-clinical testing.

John B. Sunwoo, MD was awarded a grant through Stanford University’s Innovative Medicine’s Accelerator entitled "Making Cold Tumors Hot to Improve Immunotherapy"

Immunotherapy for cancer has demonstrated remarkable responses, but only in a minority of patients. Through some unknown tumor-intrinsic mechanisms, some solid tumor malignancies have the capacity to exclude T cell infiltration, and these immune “cold” tumors fail to respond to immune checkpoint blockade and adoptive cell therapy approaches. Major research efforts have focused on trying to enhance T cell infiltration into the tumor microenvironment but with limited success. We have recently demonstrated that targeting histone demethylating enzymes in tumors can induce a robust T cell infiltration into the tumor microenvironment. The Sunwoo Lab has been awarded a Stanford Innovative Medicines Accelerator award to perform a high-throughput small molecule screen to identify novel histone modifying enzyme inhibitors to develop as therapeutic enhancers of immune response.

Team News

Drs. Zara Patel & Uchechukwu Megwalu Promoted to the Rank of Professor

Dr. Zara Patel and Dr. Uche Megwalu have been promoted to the rank of Professor! Both are outstanding surgeons and educators who are advancing clinical practice through innovative research. They are nationally and internationally recognized leaders who exemplify our values.

Dr. Patel directs our endoscopic skull base surgery program and is passionate about olfaction. She aims to develop curative therapies for patients with olfactory loss through collaborations with neuroscientists and engineers.

Dr. Megwalu is the chief of our comprehensive otolaryngology division. His scholarship focuses on outcomes and health services research, studying health disparities, hearing healthcare, and health literacy.

Congratulations, Zara and Uche! We’re so proud of you!

Dr. Jennifer Lee Promoted to Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer Lee has been promoted to the rank of Clinical Associate Professor!

In her role as Clinic Chief of Adult Otolaryngology, Jen has been a dedicated leader and a passionate educator. Her operational wizardry is helping us continuously improve clinical efficiency, which was highlighted during the trying times of the COVID pandemic.

Congratulations Jen! We’re so proud of you!

Dr. Lee is an inquisitive surgeon who enjoys gathering information to seek ways to improve her views and practices.  She is a comprehensive otolaryngologist who manages and operates on pathologies from a perforated ear drum to thyroid carcinoma to sinusitis to salivary tumors.  She has received regional and national recognition for her work in management of dysfunctions of the Eustachian tube.  She creates innovative treatments to improve the function of the Eustachian tube which connects the nasopharynx to the middle ear cavity.  She leads the otolaryngology residency training program in simulation education in hopes of improving patient outcomes and establishing foundations of leading teams through otolaryngology emergencies.  She serves as the medical director of the adult otolaryngology service line overseeing 5 divisions with about 30 providers with her dyadic partner who oversees about 50 staff members across 3 sites.  Through this role, her passion in quality improvement has been fostered to improve communication between team members to improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Lee was born in Monterey, California and was raised throughout the country and in South Korea by her parents as associates of the US military. Dr. Lee went to medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed her training at the University of Pennsylvania and has been with Stanford since 2013.

Dr. Lee is also a wife of a chemical engineer and a mother of two mischievous and bright young sons.  She enjoys cooking and walking in the beautiful landscape of California.

Resident of the Year

Tyler S. Okland, MD

Neelaysh Vukkadala, MD

Teacher of the Year

Karthik Balakrishnan, MD, MPH

Hamed Sajjadi, MD
Affiliated Faculty

Andrey Finegersh, MD, PhD
Clinical Instructor

Research Symposium Grand Reward

Z. Jason Qian, MD

Guatemala Mission

In June 2022, The members of the Pediatric OHNS team participated in a medical mission to Guatemala with the Hugs Foundation. Founded by Dr Vito Quetela, the foundation is dedicated to providing free surgeries to children with Craniofacial disorders such was cleft lip and palate and microtia. During this mission, Dr Truong, along with Dr Taseer Din, Charlie Lin NP, and Luisa Rivas surgical tech, performed microtia reconstruction. With the Hugs team, the Stanford group learned the joys of giving back and the camaraderie of working with a team who is unified in their love for these children. We are very grateful for the support of the department to pursue these endeavors!

Congratulations to Aerodigestive & Airway Reconstruction Program!

The Aerodigestive and Airway Reconstruction Center received approval by California Children’s Services. Under the direction of Doug Sidell, the Aerodigestive and Airway Reconstruction Center is the first airway program to receive such an accolade in the state of California. This remarkable achievement illustrates the synergy and hard work of the multidisciplinary team over the years. It also underscores the quality service they have provided to children in California and beyond.

Sleep Surgery Division at the World Sleep Congress in Rome, Italy

The Stanford sleep surgery team enjoyed a tremendous showing at the World Sleep Congress held in Rome this past Spring. World Sleep is the world’s largest sleep medicine meeting. Dr. Stanley Liu, director of the sleep surgery fellowship, chaired and spoke in multiple symposiums on the topics of precision sleep surgery, pediatric to adult OSA development, and machine learning applications to snoring sound, and CT and ultrasound imaging of the upper airway. Stanford OHNS fellows, residents, and research scholars combined for 19 oral and poster abstracts, highlighted by studies on hypoglossal nerve stimulation, nasal functional and cosmesis perception after MMA, and gender differences in treatment outcome. Dr. Liu also emphasizes that the diversity of the Stanford team members reflects the collaborative and inclusive nature of our home department. The rich kaleidoscope of individuals and topics reflect our core value of “Restoring Airway Health in Sleep as the Gateway to Wellness.”

Abstracts can still be found here

For more information on our team’s ongoing research efforts, please refer to

Stanford University M-TRAM

Stanford University’s Master of Science in Translational Research and Applied Medicine (M-TRAM) will start September 2022.

Advanced Swallowing Course

Our Laryngology division has successfully relaunched the Advanced Swallowing Course after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.


Otology Update

Stanford Otology Update features special guest faculty member, Ravi Samy, MD, FACS November 3rd to November 5th 2022.

Stanford Medicine’s Facial Plastic Surgery Course

Stanford Medicine’s

 Facial Plastic Surgery Course will take place from October 27th to October 29th 2022.