Team News

Winter 2023 Newsletter

Grace Kim, MD has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology.

Grace Kim, MD
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Dr. Kim is a pediatric otolaryngologist and head & neck surgeon. Her clinical expertise is in diseases of the head and neck in children, including ear infections, hearing loss, sinus issues, sleep apnea, airway concerns, and voice/swallow problems. She is a member of the Children's Thyroid Center Care Team and the Children’s Hearing Center Team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Dr.Kim is interested in developing a model to study the impact of cytomegalovirus (CMV) on the inner ear in early development. 

Kara Meister, MD has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology.

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, Associate Clinic Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology

Dr. Meister is a pediatric otolaryngologist and head & neck surgeon. She currently serves as the Associate Clinical Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology. Her clinical expertise is in airway evaluation and reconstruction, treatment of voice and swallowing problems, and treatment of patients with head and neck masses including thyroid nodules and cancer. She is Surgical Co-Director of the Children's Thyroid Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and is a participating surgeon in the Aerodigestive and Airway Reconstruction Center at Stanford Children’s Health. She is co-editor of the textbook "Pediatric Bronchoscopy for Clinicians" and enjoys advocacy work with the American Academy of Pediatrics Button Battery Taskforce. Her research interest involves understanding the use of technology to diagnose and treat pediatric patients, specifically the use of point-of-care ultrasound.

Heather Starmer, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S has been promoted to the rank of Clinical Professor in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery.

Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, Director of the Head and Neck Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation Program (Stanford Cancer Center)

Heather Starmer is a Clinical Professor and Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation Center.

She specializes in the rehabilitation of speech, voice, and swallowing in patients with head and neck cancer. She has a strong interest in head and neck cancer survivorship and in optimizing patients’ quality of life. She developed the Dynamic Imaging Grade of Swallowing Toxicity (DIGEST) flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing ( FEES)scale, which has been adopted broadly across the globe. Because of her numerous and impactful contributions to the prevention and rehabilitation of swallowing disorders, Heather was awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Fellow Award, one of the highest honors the Association bestows.

Michael Chang, MD has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in the Division of Rhinology.

Clinical Instructor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Dr. Chang is a board-certified, Stanford fellowship-trained otolaryngologist providing care at Stanford Health Care’s Sinus Center. He specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of nasal, sinus, and skull base disorders. Dr. Chang is also interested in the use of online digital media for ear, nose, and throat (ENT)-related educational content. He is the rhinology host for Headmirror’s ENT in a Nutshell podcast and served as education consulting for the rhinology section of DosedDaily. Dr. Chang’s research interests include new endoscopic imaging technologies, machine learning applications in healthcare, and outcomes for various medical and surgical treatments for sinus and skull base disorders. 

Seth Davis, MD has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in the Division of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

Clinical Instructor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Dr. Davis is a board-certified, fellowship-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon providing care at Stanford Health Care’s Facial Plastic Surgery clinics. His expertise ranges from facial cosmetic surgery to maxillofacial trauma repair and complex reconstruction following cancer resection. Dr. Davis has special interest in surgical treatment of rare diseases such as facial paralysis and underrepresented patient populations seeking gender-affirming surgery. He also participates in international humanitarian efforts to treat congenital and acquired defects of the face, with an emphasis on educating future local surgeons. Dr. Davis’ research interests include novel treatments for post-facial paralysis management, clinical outcomes in revision rhinoplasty and complex nasal reconstruction, and development of global health educational initiatives.

Shefin Sam George, PhD has been appointed to Instructor in the Division of Research.

Instructor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Dr. George’s interests span the area of auditory electrophysiology, mechanotransduction, and neural prostheses. Her research involves developing advanced imaging techniques to use along with whole-cell patch-clamp recordings to help understand the role of the lipid bilayer in regulating hair cell mechanotransduction. She thinks understanding precisely how and when hair cells acquire mechanosensitivity in a normal state is a prerequisite for understanding auditory disorders.

Minjin Jeong, PhD has been promoted to the rank of Instructor in the Division of Otology-Neurotology.

Dr. Jeong is a stem cell biologist with interest in auditory and vestibular disorders. Her research involves developing cellular models of human inner ear disorders using human pluripotent stem cells. She developed a protocol that facilitated the first differentiation of cochlear-like cells within otic organoids, alongside vestibular-like cells. Her research has contributed to the first demonstration that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect human inner ear cells, providing mechanistic insight into the observed hearing loss and dizziness triggered by COVID-19.

Lukas Landegger, MD, PhD, has joined the department as Instructor in the Division of Otology-Neurotology and recently received a grant from the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy.

Dr. Landegger received a grant from the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy for his project entitled “ AAV-mediated gene therapy to target vestibular schwannoma.” Vestibular schwannomas are benign tumors in the cerebellopontine angle and/or internal auditory canal that typically present with hearing loss, tinnitus and/or vertigo. There are no FDA-approved drugs to treat the condition at the moment, so patients can choose between conventional surgery, gamma knife radiosurgery, and a watch- and-scan (repeated magnetic resonance imaging) strategy. Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) have been used as vectors for gene therapy in a variety of settings and have become FDA-approved therapies to treat various diseases like spinal muscular atrophy or Leber congenital amaurosis. Over the last years, these viruses have also been used in the mammalian inner ear with promising results, culminating in press releases at the end of October that showed the efficacy in the human inner ear to treat a certain genetic defect leading to hearing loss in children. The grant will allow him to answer critical translational questions to hopefully develop AAV-based therapies against vestibular schwannomas in the future.   

Betsy (Elizabeth) Stickels, CCC-SLP has joined the department to bring speech therapy services to Emeryville and help grow the gender-affirming voice program.

Betsy’s professional interests include gender-affirming voice care and care of the professional voice. When not seeing patients, Betsy is an avid singer and voice teacher.

Edward J. Damrose, MD was honored to represent Stanford OHNS at the Mayo Clinic in their “Organizational Professionalism and Values in Health Care:  Navigating Contemporary Challenges” fall symposium in Rochester, MN.

The program brought together the professionalism committees of major healthcare centers from around the United States, including the Mayo Clinic, UCSF, UCLA, Yale, Dartmouth, Duke, Washington University, Baylor, HCA Healthcare, University of Colorado, Prizker School of Medicine, UT Austin, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.  This was an opportunity to share the professionalism challenges we are facing nationally and to share best practices among institutions concerned about the rising impact of unprofessional behavior on the healthcare environment.

Tulio Valdez, MD, MSc, was the keynote speaker at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists meeting in Orlando, FL.

Professor of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (OHNS) and, by courtesy, of Pediatrics

His speech titled “Barriers and Disparities for Pediatric Drug Delivery” highlighted his work on sublingual dyes and transtympanic transferosomes.

This quarter, Robson Capasso, MD, teamed up with two of our outstanding former trainees for an intensive, high-level course at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Guiding our former trainees to pay it forward represents a model for elevating surgical education across institutions.

As an advisor for Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, Dr. Capasso is actively involved in mentoring global fellows in the process of the needs-driven healthcare innovation process.

Peter Koltai, MD recently became a member of Gallery House, a cooperative art gallery of 30 Bay Area artists.

Photo Description: Dr. Koltai’s painting “Blue Waters”

View “Blue Waters” and more of Dr. Koltai’s paintings at The Gallery House exhibit space located on California Avenue in Palo Alto, CA. 

Achintya Bhowmik, MD, was awarded the 2023 Gold Globee Award for the "Most Innovative Person of the Year in Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech, Health Products & Services".

Adjunct Professor of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

Dr. Bowmik was awarded the 2023 Gold Globee Award for the "Most Innovative Person of the Year in Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech, Health Products & Services" for leading the development of hearing devices with integrated deep neural network accelerators.