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Jennifer A. Villwock, MD, FAAOA

Jennifer Villwock portrait
Vice Chair for Innovation

Associate Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Chief of Otolaryngology, Kansas City Veterans Affairs Hospital


Professional Background

Dr. Villwock graduated from Muskogee High School in Muskogee, OK. She attended the University of Michigan where she studied Cellular and Molecular Biology. Simultaneous with her studies, she was an active student researcher in the neuroblastoma cancer research lab, under the direction and mentorship of Dr. Valerie Castle-Opipari. Dr. Villwock attended medical school at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, completing her clinical rotations in Flint, MI. Her residency training in comprehensive Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery was done at SUNY-Upstate in Syracuse, NY. Dr. Villwock then pursued fellowship in Rhinology and Anterior Skull Base Surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center under the direction of Drs. Alex Chiu and David Beahm.

Dr. Villwock joined the KUMC faculty in 2017 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2020. She is one of two faculty - and only five physicians in the Kansas City metro area - to have obtained Fellow status in the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. This indicates enhanced expertise in the diagnosis and management of allergy and sinus/airway inflammation as evidenced by completion of a number of intensive courses and passage of a written and oral exam.

With this training, Dr. Villwock is able to offer comprehensive otolaryngology services for those with ear, nose, and throat issues, including thorough sinus allergy evaluation and allergy immunotherapy - both sublingual (drops under the tongue) and subcutaneous (shots). Dr. Villwock also serves as the Section Chief of Otolaryngology at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs hospital, where she oversees a clinical staff of eight attending physicians and one nurse practitioner and ensures the delivery of high quality care to our veterans.

Dr. Villwock is also passionate about teaching. This is because she believes the best way to improve health care in the future is to optimize how we teach and learn together now. In 2020, Dr. Villwock was awarded the Rainbow Award. This award was established in 1999 by the Medical Student Assembly and the Dean of the School of Medicine to honor their heroes in medicine. This prestigious award acknowledges the KUMC physicians who display outstanding attributes of professionalism and excellence in medicine - specifically altruism, accountability, excellence, duty andamp; service, honor andamp; integrity, and respect for patients, staff, and students - while imparting these characteristics to their students.


Education and Training
  • BS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
  • MD, Doctor of Medicine, Michigan State University
  • Residency, Otolaryngology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY
  • Clinical Fellowship, Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
Licensure, Accreditations & Certifications
  • Kansas Medical License, Kansas State Board of Healing Arts
  • Missouri Medical License, Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts
Professional Affiliations
  • American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, Patient-Physician Relations Committee, Chair, 2021 - Present
  • American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, Elected Member-At-Large, 2020 - 2021
  • American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, Member, 2016 - Present
  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, Member, 2011 - Present

Research

Overview

The unifying theme of my research is accessible personalized medicine. In today’s increasingly high-tech world, personalized medicine often conjures thoughts of advanced proteomics and targeted gene therapy. However, missed opportunities abound to improve the accessibility and delivery of diagnostics and therapeutics we already know work. As such, my teams' work focus on the design and implementation of evidence-based, cost-effective diagnostic and therapeutic options. My teams include the active participation of medical students and residents, as well as interprofessional faculty collaborators.

My two main areas of interest are olfaction and pain. We have developed the Affordable, Rapid, Olfactory Measurement Array (AROMA). Olfaction is highly conserved and important not just for pleasure, quality of life, and danger avoidance, but also for brain health. It is well established in the literature that olfaction is adversely impacted by varied disease states ranging from allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, and laryngectomy patients to neurocognitive disorders like traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. We have received multiple grants to support this research. We are continuing to validate AROMA in specific populations of interest and believe our work will allow for more patients to have access to a validated olfactory test to provide personalized, objective data that can aid in not only diagnosis but monitoring of clinical progression and treatment response.

The widespread desire for a functional pain scale has not resulted in an easy to use, and interpret, pain scale. To fill this gap, our team has created a customizable pain scale that links pain to functional activities. We have created customized pain scales for multiple surgical procedures such as cystectomy and radical prostatectomy, transoral robotic surgery, hypoglossal nerve stimulator placement, and hip replacement. Validating studies are ongoing in these surgical cohorts. Initial data shows that the ABCs correlates more strongly with outpatient opioid needs than the 0-10 scale. Activity Based Checks of Pain – Functional Pain Scale (ABCs of Pain). We are also conducting focus groups to better understand pain management perspectives. Our goal is to determine the value of the ABCs for pain management decision-making for both patients and clinicians.

Our teams have been successful, receiving multiple grants. In the past two years, my medical students have received four funded research fellowships, numerous awards at the KUMC Student Research Forum, and both poster and podium presentations at national conferences.