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Chair's Welcome Message

Alexander ChiuGreetings from our team at University of Kansas Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. Despite the 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 Hays Medical Center in Hays, KS and at the KU Corporate Medical Plaza at the Indian Creek Campus in south Johnson County, KS.  The build out of 122,489 square feet of new construction tripled the size of the Indian Creek Campus, which allows for full hospital capabilities as well as amenities like on-site dining, Roasterie Café, and retail pharmacy.

Our otolaryngology residency program continues to climb in Doximity Residency rankings.  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 a Global Health / Community Outreach Track during their PGY4 year.  In the past two years, two of our residents each spent a month in Vellore, India pursuing research projects around population health.  Learn more about our Global Health research and efforts.  We have also developed a relationship with an otolaryngology residency program in Makelle, Ethiopia, building on our long tradition of faculty and residents serving on medical service 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.

We're growing our research efforts with the support of recent grant awards. Associate Professor Sufi Thomas, Ph.D. 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. Resident Amy Jacks collaborated with our residency program leads Shannon Kraft, M.D. and Jennifer Villwock, M.D. 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, M.D., with faculty mentors Hinrich Staecker, M.D., Ph.D. and Kevin Sykes, MPH, Ph.D., 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. Assistant Professor Andrés Bur, M.D.; Resident John Flynn, M.D.; Clinical Research Director Kevin Sykes, Ph.D., MPH; and Heather Gibbs, Ph.D., RD, LD 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, M.D. secured funding to purchase electrolarynx devices for cancer patients who've had a complete laryngectomy and cannot afford to purchase the device. And Assistant Professor Jennifer Villwock, M.D. 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 Francis, M.D., we launched the new, campus-wide Eaton 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 due to the pandemic, but will be rescheduled for late 2020/early 2021. 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. Professor Hinrich Staecker, M.D., Ph.D. is leading ground-breaking research with several promising studies focused on treating hearing loss. Associate Professor Jim Lin, M.D. is the head of the 3P (Physicians Payment Policy) committee for the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.  I'm serving as Editor-in-Chief for ENTtoday and, in 2018, the publication was ranked as the most read and highest circulation of all otolaryngology journals by the Kantar Survey.  Our former department chair Doug Girod, M.D. is now Chancellor of the University of Kansas, and he's showing us all how to be stellar leaders.  Keep up with our Department from wherever you are by reading our department newsletter and 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, M.D.
Russell E. Bridwell, M.D. Endowed Chairman and Professor

KU School of Medicine

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