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Robust clinical experiences allow students to play an integral part of our patient care team, from learning basic otolaryngology history to performing a comprehensive head and neck exam.

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Alex Chiu MD

Greetings from our team at University of Kansas Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. Despite the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Department is celebrating another busy year filled with growth and continual improvement as we chase our mission of being an inclusive, tight-knit department focused on being leaders in otolaryngology education, research, and clinical care while being team players in the overall health and wellness of our local and global community.

With the opening of Cambridge Tower A at the main campus of the University of Kansas Health System, we've been enjoying the perks of a state-of-the art surgical building that was designed to optimize surgical efficiency and patient-centered care while serving the round-the-clock needs of our hard-working medical professionals.  We continue to expand and, in addition to our Kansas City, KS and Shawnee, KS locations, we are now offering ENT services at the KU Corporate Medical Plaza at the Indian Creek Campus in south Johnson County, KS and will soon be opening a new practice north of the river in Gladstone.  

Despite the pandemic, our clinical volumes rose nearly 15% and our teams are busier than ever. We were proud to hear we achieved the rank of #17 on the 2021-2022 US News and World Report rankings for the best otolaryngology programs in the country. This is our second consecutive year as the 17th ranked program, and we aim for even loftier rankings in the years to come. Our otolaryngology residency program continues to climb in Doximity Residency rankings, placing #24 in the 2021 edition.  This positive movement is a direct result of our efforts to create hands-on opportunities for our residents, carve out time for research and 1:1 mentoring, and support scholarship activities.  Our mentoring program enables professional development and strengthens connections between our residents and faculty.  Additionally, residents now have the option to pursue three individualized tracks during residency: data science, patient safety/quality improvement, and global health/community outreach.  Before the pandemic, two of our residents each spent a month in Vellore, India pursuing research projects around population health.  Our Global Health Blog shares highlights from their trips.  

We are committed to engaging within our local community. Last year, we initiated an ongoing partnership with Avenue of Life in Kansas City, Kansas to strengthen our service in our community, address the needs of our neighbors, and provide opportunities for our employees to experience personal growth. We're proud to help prepare and serve dinner to Avenue of Life clients, sort and organize the emergency clothing closet, collect donations of personal hygiene items, and clean the facility. We partner with the Rosedale Development Association to support the All-Rosedale Cleanup in the neighborhood where our main campus is located. In addition to picking up litter, removing brush, maintaining trails, and providing supplies, our volunteers enjoy meeting our neighbors and learning about other local organizations.

Our research efforts continue to thrive with the support of recent grant awards. Associate Professor Sufi Thomas, PhD won a 5-year NIH R01 grant to support the innovative basic and translational science her team is doing to combat head and neck cancer. Associate Professor Andrés Bur, MD received a R03 to develop machine learning algorithms to identify laryngeal cancers. Clinical Research Director & Assistant Professor Kevin Sykes, PhD, MPH was awarded a large grant from HRSA in partnership with Heart to Heart International to study vaccine hesitancy and improve vaccine uptake in local communities. Associate Professor Jennifer Villwock, MD continues to win awards with her novel olfaction research, and Professor Hinrich Staecker, MD, PhD continues to bring in private and federal funding with his hearing sciences lab. Resident Amy Jacks collaborated with our residency program leads Shannon Kraft, MD and Jennifer Villwock, MD to secure one of the first Society of University Otolaryngologists Education Innovation grant to develop interactive, animated training modules and assess learning outcomes for trainees. Resident Matt Shew, MD, with faculty mentors Hinrich Staecker, MD, PhD and Kevin Sykes, MPH, PhD, received an AAO-HNSF CORE grant to evaluate microRNA profiles of human inner ear perilymph with the goal to better understand the pathophysiology of Meniere's Disease. Associate Professor Andrés Bur, MD, Resident John Flynn, MD, and Clinical Research Director & Assistant Professor Kevin Sykes, PhD, MPH secured an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant to study the impact of nutritional supplements on surgical outcomes for head and neck cancer patients. Professor Lisa Shnayder, MD secured funding to purchase electrolarynx devices for cancer patients who've had a complete laryngectomy and cannot afford to purchase the device. Associate Professor Jennifer Villwock, MD was granted an AAO-HNSF Women in Otolaryngology award to address physician burnout and create leadership development resources for female otolaryngologists and surgeons. That's just a few examples... Learn more about our research activities and scholarship in the research section of our website.  

Thanks to the leadership of Associate Professor & SOM Assistant Dean Carrie L. Francis, MD, we launched the new, campus-wide Eaton Hall Lecture Series to promote the importance of diversity in medicine. The inaugural lecture in 2018 was presented by Dr. David Brown, Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health, Equity, and Inclusion from the University of Michigan Health System. The 2019 lecture by award-winning author and scholar Harriet A. Washington, presented Anatomy of Bias: U.S. Medicine, Ethics, and Mythology. The 2020 lecture on Gender-Affirming Surgical Care had to be postponed to 2021 and converted to webconference, but was very successful in zoom format with attendees from around the world. The 2021 lecture promises to be enlightening, as Lundy Braun, PhD discusses race corrections needed for algorithms used in healthcare. The lecture series creates opportunities to bring people together to explore ways to build on our ongoing efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in medicine and the community we serve.

Our faculty are very active and have been showing up in the spotlight at the national level. Jim Lin, MD is the head of the 3P (Physicians Payment Policy) committee for the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.  Kiran Kakarala, MD and Lisa Shnayder, MD continue to be key leaders in the American Head and Neck Society, as they both chair major committees within the society. Jennifer Villwock, MD is an associate editor for Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. I was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and serve on the leadership council of the Triologic Society. I have been the Editor-in-Chief for ENTtoday since 2017 and, in 2020, the publication was ranked as the most read and highest circulation of all otolaryngology journals by the Kantar Survey. 

On a local level, our faculty continue to hold major leadership roles in the school of medicine and health system. Dianne Durham, PhD was promoted to senior associate dean for faculty affairs and Carrie Francis, MD as associate dean for workforce innovation and empowerment. Our former department chair Doug Girod, MD is now Chancellor of the University of Kansas, and he's showing us all how to be stellar leaders. On the health system side, Terry Tsue, MD is the physician-in-chief of the KU Cancer Center, Keith Sale, MD is the VP for Ambulatory Services and Greg Ator is the Chief Informatics Officer for the KU Health System. And I am the secretary for the University of Kansas Physicians board. Keep up with our Department from wherever you are by following us on social media @ku_ent on Instagram, @KU_ENT on Twitter, and @kuotolaryngology on Facebook.  We look forward to connecting with you.

Alexander Chiu, MD
Russell E. Bridwell, MD Endowed Chairman and Professor

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KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
Department of Otolaryngology–
Head & Neck Surgery
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mailstop 3010
Kansas City, KS 66160