Stanford Head and Neck Center

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Your Care Team

Our team develops treatment plans that provide the best chance for curing head and neck tumors while also focusing on preservation of the critical functions of speech, swallowing, and communication.

We work closely with a broad array of specialists, including experts in medical oncology, radiation oncology, endocrinology, speech language pathology, pathology, radiology, nuclear medicine, psychology and psychiatry, and dental oncology.

Vasu Divi, MD, FACS

Chris Holsinger, MD, FACS

Michael J. Kaplan, MD, FACS

Lisa A. Orloff, MD

Eben Rosenthal, MD

Davud Sirjani, MD

Heather Starmer, MA

John Sunwoo, MD, FACS

Vasu Divi, MD, FACS

Dr. Vasu Divi is the Director of Head and Neck Microvascular Reconstruction at Stanford.

His clinical interests are in reconstructive surgery of the head and neck following cancer surgery, radiation injury, and trauma. He is focused on microvascular reconstruction and using advanced computer-imaging techniques to optimize outcomes. His other clinical focus is on advanced and high-risk non-melanoma skin cancer (e.g. squamous cell, basal cell, merkel cell, pleomorphic undifferentiated sarcoma), and he works in close collaboration with his colleagues in Dermatology to ensure patients receive excellent care. He performs sentinel lymph node biopsies for lesions that have a high risk of spreading to the regional lymph nodes.

Dr. Divi is engaged in health services research by using large databases to help improve the treatment of head and neck cancer. He is helping define quality metrics in head and neck cancer, and investigating the cost-effectiveness of our current treatments. His other research interest is identifying molecular markers in cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas that signal a high-risk for regional metastasis.

Dr. Divi graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Economics. He completed his medical education at the University of Michigan in 2004, graduating with Distinction in Academics and in Research. During his time there, he was president of the medical school student body, earned the highest Step 1 board score in his medical school class, and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. He remained at the University of Michigan for his Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery residency, completing training in 2009. He then completed a fellowship at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Head and Neck Oncology, Microvascular Reconstruction, and Skull Base Surgery. Following the completion of his training, he returned to the University of Michigan from 2010 to 2012 where he was an active member of the Head and Neck Surgery faculty. Dr. Divi joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2012 as an Assistant Professor.

Chris Holsinger, MD, FACS

Dr. Holsinger is Professor and Chief of Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, where he also leads the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the Stanford Cancer Center. From 2003-2013, Dr. Holsinger worked at the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where he founded the Program in Minimally Invasive and Endoscopic Head and Neck Surgery.

Dr. Holsinger’s surgical practice focuses on the surgical management of benign and malignant diseases of the thyroid, as well as head and neck cancers. His areas of research interest include endoscopic head and neck surgery, including robotic thyroidectomy, transoral robotic surgery and transoral laser microsurgery, as well as time-honoured approaches of conservation laryngeal surgery, supracricoid partial laryngectomy.

Dr. Holsinger leads several prospective clinical trails, through NCI-funded cooperative groups. He currently serves as the principal investigator of RTOG1221, a Randomized Trial of Transoral Endoscopic Head And Neck Surgery followed by Risk-Based IMRT and Weekly Cisplatin versus IMRT and Weekly Cisplatin for HPV Negative Oropharynx Cancer. He is the surgical principal investigator of RTOG920, the intermediate risk post-operative trial.

Dr. Holsinger received his medical degree from Vanderbilt School of Medicine, completed his internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine and his Fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. In 2003, he was awarded Fulbright Scholarship to study surgery at the University of Paris with Professor Ollivier Laccourreye and with Professor Wolfgang Steiner at the Georg-August University in Göttingen. Board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, Dr. Holsinger is a member of numerous societies including the American College of Surgeons, American Head and Neck Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Thyroid Association.

Michael J. Kaplan, MD, FACS

Dr. Michael Kaplan is Professor of Head and Neck Surgery, and, by courtesy, Neurological Surgery, at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and has 30 years of experience in practice. His very busy clinical practice focuses on the multi-disciplinary management of complex cancers arising within the oral cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, larynx, salivary glands, and neck, as well as the management of complex non-neoplastic processes affecting these structures. Additionally, Dr. Kaplan is highly experienced in treating cancers and other processes that affect the anterior and central skull base, often in conjunction with colleagues in the Department of Neurosurgery.

Dr. Kaplan earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He then completed residency in Otolaryngology at Harvard's Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and subsequently completed a two-year head and neck surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Virginia. Prior to coming to Stanford in 2003, Dr. Kaplan practiced at the University of California San Francisco for almost 20 years.

Dr. Kaplan's collaborative research with others at Stanford and elsewhere has included the first papers establishing the existence and importance of cancer stem cells in head and neck cancer (2007, 2011), and establishing a possible role for immunotherapy in head and neck squamous cell cancer (2011).

Dr. Kaplan serves on Stanford's Scientific Review Committee for cancer-related investigational studies. He is an author or co-author of over a hundred articles and book chapters, peer reviews manuscripts for over a dozen journals, and has served on numerous head and neck committees at the local and national level. Dr. Kaplan co-directs Stanford's head and neck fellowship, previously was chief of the head and neck surgery division and Stanford's head and neck oncology program for a decade, and has been recognized consistently in Castle Connolly's America's Top Doctors and America's Top Doctors for Cancer.

Lisa A. Orloff, MD

Lisa A. Orloff, MD, is Director of the Head and Neck Endocrine Surgery Program and Professor in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Her clinical practice focuses on the surgical management of thyroid and parathyroid tumors.

Dr. Orloff has made significant contributions to the field of head and neck endocrine surgery. Her work understanding and expanding the role of ultrasound within the multidisciplinary management in head and neck endocrine disease has transformed the manner in which thyroid and parathyroid patients are evaluated. Dr. Orloff specializes in ultrasound applications within otolaryngology-head and neck surgery with an emphasis on thyroid cancer and parathyroid disease. Dr. Orfloff also studies the regeneration of tissue that has been lost as a result of cancer therapies.

Dr. Orloff received her medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed her residency in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Washington and her fellowship in Microvascular & Reconstructive Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Dr. Orloff has served three consecutive terms as the Chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) Endocrine Surgery committee. She holds leadership roles within the American Head and Neck Society and the American Thyroid Association. She is a voting member of the FDA's Panel to evaluate medical devices for Otolaryngology.

Eben Rosenthal, MD

Eben Rosenthal is the Ann and John Doerr Medical Director at Stanford Cancer Center.

Dr. Rosenthal grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and received degrees from Haverford College and the University of Michigan.  He learned his surgical skills in otolaryngology from the University of Michigan and traveled west for further training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Oregon Health and Science University.  He joined the faculty at University of Alabama at Birmingham where he started as an Assistant Professor of Surgery within the Division of Otolaryngology.  In 2012, Dr. Rosenthal became Division Director of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and the holder of the John S. Odess Endowed Chair at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  He moved to Stanford July 1, 2015 to become the Ann and John Doerr Medical Director of the Stanford Cancer Center.

Dr. Rosenthal is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  He specializes in the treatment and reconstruction of head and neck cancer patients.  He has a strong interest in development of new strategies to surgically repair complex head and neck defects to improve functional and cosmetic outcomes. 

He has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts, authored many book chapters and published a book on optical imaging in cancer. He is on the editorial board of Head & Neck and The Laryngoscope, he is also a charter member of the NIH Developmental Therapeutics Study Section.  Dr. Rosenthal has performed preclinical and clinical research on the role of targeted therapies for use to treat cancer alone and in combination with conventional therapy.  He has served as principal investigator on several early phase investigator-initiated and industry sponsored clinical trials in molecular oncology. He has received grant funding from the American Cancer Society, NIH/NCI and NIH/NIDCR to study the role of targeted therapy and novel imaging strategies in cancer. 

Dr. Rosenthal has conducted bench to bedside development of optical contrast agents to identify cancer in the operating room.  He led a multidisciplinary team of scientists through successful IND application to allow testing of fluorescently labeled antibodies in the clinic and operating room.   These early phase clinical trials have demonstrated that this technique can visualize microscopic cancer in the operating room and may significantly improve clinical outcomes.

Davud Sirjani, MD

Dr. Sirjani graduated from the University of Arizona with Honors in Biochemistry where he received the prestigious Centennial Achievement Award, as the most outstanding senior student in the College of Arts & Sciences. He matriculated to the University of Arizona School of Medicine on the Dean’s Scholarship.

He completed a residency in Otolaryngology at Washington University in St. Louis and a fellowship in Head and Neck Cancer and Microvascular reconstruction at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2009.

Dr. Sirjani joined the Division of Head and Neck Surgery in 2009 and, since 2012, has also served as Chief of Otolaryngology at the VA in Palo Alto. Dr. Sirjani has pioneered the use of telemedicine to provide complicated head and neck cancer care to remote VA satellite across the Pacific and Mountain West. Under his leadership, the Stanford VA has become a premier hub for head and neck cancer care in the West Coast.

As the director of the salivary program at Stanford since 2013, Dr. Sirjani’s practice is focused on minimally invasive parotidectomy. He was the first surgeon at Stanford to offer patients sialendoscopy. His research interests include innovations in minimizing morbidity from parotid cancer treatment.

Dr. Sirjani’s research interests focus on surgical simulation and surgical innovation. He invented the only partoidectomy surgical simulator in the country, which is funded by the Department of Defense and used to teach other surgeons about the tension placed on the facial nerve during Parotidectomy. Stanford is now a primary center for the treatment of salivary related cancers.

Dr. Sirjani is also interested in improving the quality of life in cancer patients and has collaboration with Dr. Quynh Le to study the cytoprotective effects of botulinum toxin in the protection of salivary tissue from radiation damage in order to prevent xerostomia (dry mouth).

Dr. Sirjani incorporates new innovations, basic science research, and his high volume of operative experience to tailor operations to best suit the patient.

Heather Starmer, MA CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Heather Starmer is the Director of Head and Neck Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation at the Stanford Cancer Center.  She is a Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing Disorders.

Her clinical interests involve the prevention and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders associated with head and neck cancers.  She has particular interest in the prevention of swallowing disorders related to radiation based therapy for head and neck tumors and in finding ways to help patients adhere to their rehabilitative treatment plans.  Additionally, she focuses on restoration of communication and swallow function after both minimally invasive and more radical surgical procedures.  She has particular interest in rehabilitation after total laryngectomy (removal of the entire voice box) and transoral robotic surgery.

Heather is actively involved in research investigating new interventions to optimize communication and swallowing outcomes and quality of life following head and neck cancer treatment.  Current efforts involve use of technological aids to assist patients in their rehabilitation.  Heather collaborates in several multi-institutional studies including a project to standardize reporting of swallowing outcomes for large, multi-institutional clinical trials.

Heather graduated from the California State University at Long Beach with a BA in Communication Science and Disorders.  Her Master’s Degree was completed at the University of Pittsburgh.  She completed her fellowship training at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Pittsburgh PA with a focus on head and neck rehabilitation.  Prior to joining the head and neck team at Stanford University, she was the lead of Head and Neck Cancer Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.  Heather joined the faculty at Stanford University in 2014 as an Assistant Professor.  Heather is a member of the Dysphagia Research Society, the American Head and Neck Cancer Society, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, and the California Speech and Hearing Association.

John B. Sunwoo, MD, FACS

John Sunwoo is the Director of Head and Neck Cancer Research and a member of the Academic Council.

He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in biochemistry at Brown University and his medical degree and master’s degree in biology at Washington University in St. Louis.  He completed training in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Washington University and a fellowship in clinical research at the National Institutes of Health.  Following his clinical training, he completed a 5-year post-doctoral laboratory fellowship in immunology at Washington University.

Dr. Sunwoo joined the faculty at Stanford Medicine in 2008 and is a member of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology. 

Dr. Sunwoo’s clinical focus is on head and neck surgical oncology, specifically in the areas of thyroid/parathyroid tumors and head and neck melanoma.  He is the co-director of the Multidisciplinary Thyroid and Parathyroid Tumor Board and the head and neck surgeon of the Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Program at Stanford.

In addition to his clinical focus, Dr. Sunwoo is also the principal investigator of an NIH–funded laboratory in the Lokey Stem Cell Research Building.  His research is focused on tumor immunology – specifically, the interaction between the immune system and cancer stem cells.