Current Research and Scholarly Interests
The larynx is uniquely located at the divergence of the upper and lower airways and gastrointestinal tract. The vocal folds are housed within the larynx and are the only tissues in the human body that routinely vibrate at frequencies ranging from ~100-1000 Hz, in order to generate voice.
Voice disorders affect millions of people every year and have a devastating impact on communication and quality of life. I am a researcher and clinician with training and expertise in laryngeal physiology. I aim to advance patient care and improve treatment outcomes through study of both normal laryngeal function and the pathophysiology of voice disorders. In order to achieve this overarching objective, my laboratory utilizes a highly collaborative, multifaceted approach consisting of basic science and clinical research techniques.
My general basic science research focus is on laryngeal mucosal biology. In normal physiology, epithelial and mucus cells protect the laryngeal mucosa from the ~25 million pollutant, viral, and bacterial insults inhaled each day. Using a combination of ex vivo, in vivo, and in vitro experimental approaches, I examine the role of laryngeal epithelial and mucus cells as modulators of mucosal remodeling in injury and disease and defensive barriers between the external environment and the underlying tissue. Currently, we utilize exposure to tobacco products as a clinically relevant model of laryngeal injury.
My general clinical science research focus is evaluating clinical and quality of life outcomes in patients with voice disorders undergoing surgical or behavioral interventions. A major thrust of my clinical research has focused on identification of novel therapeutic options for essential vocal tremor (EVT). Specifically, I have targeted formation of a line of research dedicated to the development and refinement of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the thalamus, a common surgical intervention for essential tremor of the limbs, as a treatment for EVT.