Our supervisors are focused on team success

You may think supervisors simply hire and fire, train new employees, and generally, well, just supervise. But they do so much more. They are the face of each functional unit; the fill-in for missing staff members; the leader responsible for progress and productivity; and, oh yeah, innovator, nurturer, and cheerleader. Quite simply, they are the […]

WashU team shares expertise in skull base surgery

Faculty and residents from the departments of Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery work closely together on many patient cases and research to advance patient care, so it’s no surprise that they would find themselves presenting at the same national meetings. Most recently, faculty and residents from both departments demonstrated their expertise in skull base surgery at the […]

Mobile hearing/speech clinic serves St. Louis at-risk children

Children at risk for hearing and speech disorders can’t always access the clinical evaluation and follow-up care they need. A new mobile hearing and speech clinic helps solve that problem for the greater St. Louis area. The new mobile hearing and speech clinic was delivered to St. Louis Children’s Hospital Feb. 20. The unit is […]

Q & A with Brent Spehar, PhD

What is your current title and responsibilities? My title is research scientist. I serve as co-principle investigator on two successful research projects with Nancy Tye-Murray, PhD. The first project examines audiovisual speech perception across the adult lifespan. I develop methods, materials, and models used to measure how well research participants can combine their visual and […]

Ohlemiller lab partners with startup to help patients with hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss in humans, caused by degeneration of the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, is not a recoverable injury. Mammalian hair cells do not regenerate like many other cell types. A collaboration between Kevin Ohlemiller, PhD, and a private biotech company hopes to change that. In 2015, a new start-up, Frequency Therapeutics, […]

Our doctors are among the first to offer Osia for hearing loss

Otolaryngologists at Washington University School of Medicine are among the first in the Midwest to implant the Osia System to improve hearing for patients with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and single-sided sensorineural deafness. During an early introduction of the new system this winter, Jacques Herzog, MD, Cameron Wick, MD, and Craig Buchman, MD, […]

Otolaryngology researchers present latest science at ARO meeting

Faculty, research staff, and one resident presented their latest science at the 2020 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). This annual meeting is the largest assembly of hearing scientists in the world and features primarily basic and applied science related to hearing, deafness and balance. Overall, 1,328 abstracts were submitted. The […]

Improving patient access

Dr. Dunsky with pediatric patient

The Department of Otolaryngology is working hard to improve the patient experience. Allison Ogden, MD, is heading the “Patient Access” committee and reports on the group’s progress to make every phase of the patient experience better. What is the project to expand access?  “Patient access” in the ENT Department means that patients should see the […]

The surgeon-scientist who works to remove scalpels

photo of alums at recent AAO meeting

Crafting furniture in his garage, Clint T. Allen, MD, carves away at oak and walnut, one day creating cabinets or, on another, maybe a countertop for his new bar. An otolaryngologist who trained at Washington University School of Medicine, Allen is like many of his fellow surgeons: he enjoys using sharp tools. Yet when it […]

Q & A with Maria Harrington

Photo of Harrington family

What is your title and how long have you worked for the department? I was hired by Oto in 1993 as a receptionist, then worked for a while as a secretary to the business manager and accounting manager. A couple years later I accepted the position of Senior Program Coordinator, a title which predates the […]

Medical students present, earn recognition at national conference

Med students pose with Triologic poster

Medical students working in research labs in the Department of Otolaryngology recently presented and earned recognition at the Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting, a national conference that features all otolaryngology specialties. Erik Nakken (Washington University School of Medicine) and Smrithi Chidambaram (St. Louis University School of Medicine) scored first place for their poster presentation, Sociodemographic […]

Speech-language pathologists help patients regain function

Some of the greatest difficulties that accompany head and neck cancer is the loss of speech and swallowing ability. Basic functions of communication make us feel human and connect us with others, so their loss can be devastating. Our team of specially trained speech-language pathologists (SLP) helps adults with speech and swallowing rehabilitation after head […]

Noise-induced hearing loss blocked with drug compound

photo of fluorescent sensory hair cells and nerve fibers

The laboratory of Mark Rutherford, PhD, contributed to studies that show noise-induced hearing loss can be blocked while allowing hearing to continue. The work was published in the Feb. 3, 2020 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Popular YouTube science news channel SciShow has also reported on the story. Read more […]

Residents learn how to remove tumors from skull base

In a course taught by some of the country’s leading neurotologists and neurosurgeons, Washington University residents recently learned step-by-step the techniques to remove tumors from  the skull base. Working in Washington University’s state-of-the art multidisciplinary surgical simulation lab, residents from the departments of otolaryngology and neurosurgery practiced surgical approaches to removing an acoustic neuroma, a […]

Faculty advance otolaryngology care across the globe

Drs. Zevallos and Pipkorn with Peru delegation

By training the next generation of leaders in otolaryngology at Washington University, our faculty are helping shape the future of excellence in patient care. But they don’t stop there. They are also visiting professors at universities around the globe, frequently presenting their research to peers at influential forums, and providing surgical training to clinicians and […]

WashU docs among first to implant BONEBRIDGE for patients with hearing loss

Washington University ENT surgeons are the first in the region to implant the new BONEBRIDGE Hearing Implant System in patients with hearing loss and single–sided deafness. The BONEBRIDGE by Med–El is an innovative bone conduction implant that transmits sound waves via the cranial bone directly to the inner ear, where they are perceived as natural […]

Research administrators’ support key to top 5 rank in NIH funding

An award of support from a federal or non-federal source marks a significant achievement for a researcher. But, in accepting a grant award, grantees agree to comply with the requirements in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants Policy Statement. That’s where our team of research administrators takes charge. That NIH Policy Statement describing the […]

Stem cell implants offer hope for vocal cord paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis occurs when nerve impulses to the larynx are disrupted, causing problems with speech and breathing. Vocal cord closure is crucial for the production of sound, or phonation, and to protect the airway from food and liquids that might enter. The nerve to the vocal cords can be injured in a variety of […]

Dr. Chole and retirement: a special kind of busy

Most folks find a way to slow down during retirement. Not so for our former department chair, Richard A. Chole, MD, PhD. After 17 years, Dr. Chole officially stepped down as chair in October, 2015. He continued to see patients for another several years, while winding down activities in his research lab. Finally, in October […]

Q & A with Jaci Lett

How long have you been at Washington University and what type of work do you do? I started as a research technician at the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) in 1985. CID at that time was an affiliate program of Washington University. We migrated with the CID group into the Department of Otolaryngology in […]

Understanding individual cells to overcome treatment challenges in head and neck cancer

Sid Puram, MD, PhD, thinks that optimizing personalized cancer treatment requires better knowledge about tumor heterogeneity.  Understanding individual tumor cells will promote better and discrete treatment options for head and neck cancer patients. Head and neck tumors are composed of a variety of cells that have different functions, much like bees in a hive. Some […]

2019 Holiday Outreach

We want to thank all of you who have generously participated in the Holiday Outreach Program, an annual community outreach initiative coordinated by the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation (WUMCRC). The program gives participating departments of the Washington University School of Medicine, BJC medical campus, and others an opportunity to aid in our mission […]

Setting the tone for every patient visit: The PSR effect

The first face every patient sees, and sometimes the first voice they hear, is the one that sets the tone for every visit. Setting a tone that can lead to optimal quality patient care is the job of the PSR or Patient Services Representative. There are 20 PSRs at work in our department, located in […]

Growing to serve more patients

To enhance patient care and access, the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University is growing.  By the end of 2020, we will be able to serve adults and children all the way from Jefferson County to North County and from West County to Illinois. “Better clinical spaces, more locations and additional talented faculty and staff […]

Dr. Ogden cultivates leadership skills

Our vice chair for clinical affairs, Allison Ogden, MD, FACS, was selected to participate in the the third cohort of the Women Faculty Leadership Institute, a program that provides access to local and national experts who address skill development in critical areas of leadership. She began her coursework in September with a focus on negotiation. […]

New animal model offers insights into CMV-induced hearing loss

Ten percent of newborns infected with cytomegalovirus suffer from hearing loss. Keiko Hirose, MD, in the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University is trying to figure out why. CMV or cytomegalovirus is a common viral infection in humans. It typically goes unnoticed and is only likely to cause problems when it occurs in infants or […]

PACS: Growing to meet a national need for deaf educators and audiologists

The Washington University School of Medicine offers a number of degrees in clinical care specialties. One of the fastest growing programs is one known as PACS, the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences. The program currently boasts 99 students of specialty training in audiology (52 students), deaf education (26 students), and hearing sciences (one PhD […]

Q & A with Diane Athmer

How long have you been with the Department of Otolaryngology? I started with the department in October, 2001 as a clinical nurse coordinator. Prior to that I served as a nursing supervisor in the ENT department at SLU for three years. I’ve been blessed to work for some of the finest physicians in our specialty […]

Team Heads Up rocks Pedal the Cause

Congratulations to our department’s Pedal the Cause team for raising the most money in its 10-year history! Comprised of 70 members, Team Heads Up raised $57,000, a 40% increase over what we raised last year, placing us #4 among all of the 28 hospital affiliates. Thank you to all of our generous donors! This year’s […]

Clinical trial hopes to restore hearing for patients with vestibular schwannomas

Patients deafened from a vestibular schwannoma have very limited options to restore hearing in their affected ear. Researchers at Washington University hope to change that paradigm. In a new FDA-approved clinical trial, the lateral skull base team will evaluate  a new Auditory Nerve Testing System that may allow tumor removal with simultaneous cochlear implantation. Currently, […]

Mindfulness-based stress reduction a promising treatment for tinnitus

Headshot of Dr. Piccirillo with WashU shield

As many as 20% of people may experience tinnitus, the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. While it’s usually not a sign of something serious, the phantom noise created by tinnitus can interfere with the ability to concentrate, hear external sound, sleep, and sometimes even enjoy life. Common causes for tinnitus include age-related […]

Employees recognized for years of service

At our department’s annual Town Hall October 24, 17 employees were recognized for their dedication to the department, with anniversaries ranging from five to thirty-five years. Congratulations and a big thank you to all of these employees. Liza Ledesma: 10 Years Kathy Keefe: 10 Years Judy Peterein: 35 Years Maria Harrington: 25 Years Denise Welsch: […]

Q & A with Elizabeth Mauze

What is your title and how long have you worked at Washington University? I am a research audiologist, and I came to WashU to complete a master’s degree in communication sciences, 1990-1992. After graduation I started working in the clinic at Central Institute for the Deaf (CID). I mostly taught adult aural rehabilitation classes and […]

Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders: Using TEAM to optimize patient care

Established 25 years ago by neurotology specialist Jacques Herzog, MD, The Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders treats patients with all types of diseases of the ear and related structures – hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and much more.  Dr. Herzog founded the center with the goal of providing the best patient experience possible. The tight […]

Studying the impact of reward on speech processing

Neuroscientist Jonathan Peelle, PhD, was awarded a one-year $479,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging to look at the influence of reward and motivation in speech processing. The project, called, “Age-related changes in language processing,” will study whether offering listeners explicit rewards result in greater speech intelligibility among older adults. The study is a […]

Pumpkin Wars

When the knives come out, it’s time to rumble. Or in this case, it’s time to carve – pumpkins that is.  In St. Louis Magazine’s second annual Pumpkin Wars: Chefs vs Surgeons, local pediatric surgeons compete against local chefs to see who can carve the most creative pumpkin. The Fall festival, which includes an auction […]

St. Louis Magazine announces Top Docs for 2019

Best Doctors logo

St. Louis Magazine recently published the Top Docs list for 2019. The list is compiled by Best Doctors in America and uses a peer review to determine which doctors are most recommended by specialists in their field. Included in this year’s list are 12 faculty members from the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University: Gregory […]

Helping patients look and feel their best

Photo of Drs Branham, Spataro and Chi

Drs. Gregory H. Branham, John Chi and Emily A. Spataro are facial plastic surgeons who combine the artistry of cosmetic enhancement with the science of corrective surgery. At the Washington University Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center, they offer a wide variety of cosmetic facial enhancements, treat complex facial nerve disorders and are leaders in […]

Summer program drives new interest in otolaryngology

Photo of Meharry College Sign

A decade-long partnership between the Washington University School of Medicine Summer Research Program and Meharry Medical College is resulting in an increased interest in otolaryngology. The program gives Meharry medical students the opportunity to engage in mentored research on the Washington University School of Medicine campus during the summer between their first and second years of […]

Q & A with Carol Rose

Carol Rose with WashU shield

What is your role in the department? I currently serve as Office Manager over our West County offices. That includes two clinics at Barnes–Jewish West County Hospital, and the Center for Hearing and Balance at St. Luke’s Hospital. That means I get to travel a lot, and I do whatever it takes to make sure […]

Studies may lead to improved fine motor control and balance

headshots of Pablo Blazquez and Tatyana Yakusheva

Diseases associated with motor control and balance represent the most common neurological disorders affecting the world today. To help fight this trend, Pablo Blazquez, PhD, and Tatyana Yakusheva, PhD, study the role of the cerebellum in motor control, balance and spatial navigation. They use a diverse array of experimental techniques, including measures of individual neuron […]

Administrative assistants rise to the challenge

Photo of the secretarial group

Hidden across the medical school campus are a select group of administrative assistants who serve the physicians in otolaryngology. Collectively, they’ve been serving Washington University for more than 200 years (an average of 20 years each). Their list of duties is almost as long as their years of service, but one thing is certain—they know […]

Exploring the tiny world of auditory neuroscience

Mark Rutherford and student Heather Chung review TEM photos

Washington University undergraduate Heather Chung works with Mark Rutherford, PhD, to test synapse loss.  The Rutherford lab studies the smallest parts of the ear called synapses. Synapses are the sites of communication between two neurons or between a neuron and a sensory receptor cell. New biological imaging techniques have made these structures much easier to […]

Keiko Hirose, MD, begins term as president of ARO

Keiko Hirose, MD, professor of otolaryngology is the new president of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). Dr. Hirose says, “it is truly an honor to be nominated and elected as president of ARO. The organization features some of the highest impact research in auditory neuroscience and provides a critical network of scientists and […]

Adult audiology: setting national standards for patient care

Audiology student examines ear of a patient

The standard of care is outstanding for most clinical specialties at Washington University/BJC, including audiology. At least that’s what the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) thinks. AAA chose Washington University’s adult audiology as a model for patient care for the development of two best practices guidelines. The first guideline outlined best practices for the selection, […]

Redesigning the path to becoming a doctor

Washington University School of Medicine redesigns the path to become a doctor, and voice specialist Dr. Bradley is there to help. Medical School is much more than learning the science, according to otolaryngologist Joseph P. Bradley, MD.  “It should be about fostering the individual’s identity of what makes someone a doctor from their first day […]

New Research Scholars

Seven new aspiring clinician scientists have recently joined the ranks of research scholars in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, including T32 and TL1 predoctoral and T32 postdoctoral scholars: T32 Postdoctoral Scholars Nneoma Wamkpah, MDResidentWashington University in St. LouisMentor: Randal Paniello, MD     Ben Wahle, MDResidentWashington University in St. LouisMentor: Jose Zevallos, MD […]

New clinic provides the benefits of more comprehensive care

In the November edition, our first edition, of Under the Scope, we shared the exciting news about our CAM 11th  floor clinic expansion plans.   It is now complete! Designed to provide our patients the benefits of more comprehensive care, this expansion brings together all of our  adult  clinical services – otology, head and neck cancer, […]

Q & A with Team Leader Dawn Breeden

Operations Team Leader Dawn Breeden in her garden

You have a rather unique title. What are the duties of a Team Leader – Operations?  Well, I primarily make sure the office runs smoothly. That means I do whatever is needed at the time. I worked the front and back desks at our West County ENT clinic for 17 years. Then, after filling in […]