University Hospitals Ear, Nose & Throat Institute Update | Summer 2021


A message from Nicole C. Maronian, MD, Chair and Director

Innovations in Ear, Nose & Throat | Summer 2021

Nicole Maronian, MDNicole Maronian, MD

The University Hospitals Ear Nose & Throat Institute continues to pursue growth, develop future leaders and pioneer new ideas to emphasize our UH mission: To Heal. To Teach. To Discover.

Among the year’s highlights is the launch of two new centers of excellence focused on Cochlear Implantation and Skull Base surgery. Our institute has added 11 new providers by actively recruiting high-quality faculty throughout the Northeast Ohio region, particularly in our pediatric ENT group, which has doubled in size.

We welcomed new residents and a new head and neck surgery fellow. Our faculty continues to focus on publication and clinical research, which is driving new innovations across all of our divisions. Here’s a look at these accomplishments from the first half of the year.

To Heal: Expanding Services & Expertise

Along with the rest of the University Hospitals health system, the UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute has made a purposeful shift toward value-based care. Organizing our nationally recognized services into centers of excellence allows us to showcase not only our quality, but also the value of care to patients and providers.

Our newly launched Cochlear Implant Center of Excellence is being led by Alejandro Rivas, MD, Division Chief of Otology/Neurotology, in partnership with Director of Audiology Gail Murray, PhD, CCC-A. The center builds on our legacy as a leading cochlear implant center by expanding our system’s services for hearing loss, incorporating the latest advances in cochlear implants and serving more patients through telehealth. Brian D’Anza, MD, continues to lead our telehealth expansion as medical director of telehealth across all service lines for our UH System, while continuing to provide excellent skull base and complex rhinology surgical care. 

Preparations to launch our Skull Base Center of Excellence are also underway. The new center is a close collaboration between our divisions of otology, rhinology, audiology, speech language pathology and head and neck along with neurosurgery to individualize the treatment of these complex anterior, central and lateral skull based disorders. The multidisciplinary needs of our patients are managed by a skilled navigator to coordinate the complex care needs.

The institute has a natural interest in balance, and in our ability to impact ENT related care for our entire UH patient population. To that end, Nauman Manzoor, MD, has initiated a new Falls Clinic at two UH locations (Foley ElderHealth Center and St. John Westshore Primary Care on the west side). Falls are a common issue affecting many of our patients, particularly elderly ones, often with devastating outcomes on quality of life, with multi-factoral etiologies. The new clinic will provide comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluations for patients who have fallen or are at risk, as well as specific therapeutic measures and appropriate referrals to help them prevent falls in a proactive manner.  The clinic seeks to ensure that there is seamless care and treatment, regardless of where an at-risk patient is identified within their continuum of care.

Another tremendous area of growth within our ENT Institute is our Pediatric Otolaryngology Division, which doubled in size this year. Under the leadership of Todd Otteson, MD, Division Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology, we are thrilled to have two new providers joining University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in August: Tekin Baglam, MD, and Matthew Gropler, MD. Both are fellowship trained in pediatric otolaryngology and bring specialized expertise to our nationally recognized pediatric team. Dr. Baglam will work in a collaboration with our cystic fibrosis team focused on pediatric sinus issues, while Dr. Gropler will focus his expertise on expansion of our craniofacial and airway services.

We welcome UH Speech Pathology services to the institute. As we further align patient care services for seamless multidisciplinary patient experience, both inpatient and outpatient speech therapy services are now part of our UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute structure. We will embrace these new opportunities to align expertise focused on improved specialization and transitions of care for our patients. Areas of focus for the upcoming year include the expansion of speech therapy services, specifically pediatric voice and dysphagia care.    

To Teach: Celebrating Academic Excellence

We are ever fortunate to recruit the best and brightest in ENT as they start their medical careers in otolaryngology with us.

The UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute welcomed four new residents in 2021:

  • Chelsea Cleveland, MD – University of Buffalo
  • Bryan Hair, MD – Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine/Case Western Reserve University
  • Stephen Politano, MD – The Ohio State University
  • Sarah Ridge, MD – University of Cincinnati

For the first time, our ENT Residency Program, led by our program director Sarah Mowry, MD, and newly appointed associate program director Akina Tamaki, MD, has been selected to participate in the annual American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNSF) Academic Bowl, which highlights the academic excellence of our residents. Each year, four ENT programs are chosen from across the country to participate in the “Jeopardy!”-style competition, which takes place during the AAO-HNSF annual meeting in October 2021 in Los Angeles. Congratulations to our three ENT residents attending this year’s event.

As always, we are also pleased to congratulate all of our graduating fellows as they take the next steps in their careers: Armine Kocharyan, MD, is working as a research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Anish Abrol, MD, begins his Facial Plastic/Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Blake Szelestey, MD, will join a private practice in Dayton, Ohio, and Rachel Kominsky, MD, will complete a Fellowship in Laryngology at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. S. Ahmed Ali, MD, completed his Head and Neck Surgery and Microvascular Reconstruction Fellowship here at University Hospitals and joins the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Our new fellow of Head and Neck Surgery and Microvascular Reconstruction, Danielle Scarola, MD, joins us from Emory University, where she completed her residency.

To Discover: Breaking New Ground

Our ENT providers, residents and students continue to push forward new research:

We congratulate Justine Renaud, PhD, who received an American Hearing Research Foundation 2021 grant for her work related to Meniere’s Disease. Several studies have shown that endolymph production is regulated by several hormones, and one of the main triggers for the aggravation of Meniere’s disease symptoms is physical and emotional stress. She seeks to uncover the role of specific hormones in the establishment of endolymphatic hydrops and a possible treatment to alleviate Meniere's disease symptoms.

Viral Tejani, AuD, PhD, Joined Audiology Services as a Senior Clinical Research Audiologist, effective July 2021. He received his AuD from the University of Maryland and PhD in Audiology from the University of Iowa. He comes from the University of Iowa Cochlear Implant program, where he has worked since 2013 in clinic and research settings. Dr. Tejani will be working with Dr. Rivas to further advance clinical trials in cochlear implants and Osia implants.

Quintin Pan, PhD, was invited to join the NIH/NIDCR Special Grants Review Committee as a permanent member for a six-year term, from July 2021 to June 2027. This committee serves in an advisory capacity to the NIH Director and the NIDCR Director for the Institute's programs and activities in the broad areas of dental and craniofacial research, including head and neck cancer.

A major focus of the Pan Head and Neck Cancer research group is to develop novel therapeutic approaches to optimally manage HPV+ oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma patients. To this end, a drug repurposing initiative led by Wendi O'Neill, DDS, revealed a promising drug approach to reactivate the p53 tumor suppressor program to kill HPV+ tumor cells. Our next step is to move this exciting discovery into the clinical setting as a window of opportunity trial in surgically managed HPV+ oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma patients. The clinical trial will be co-led by Drs. Nicole Fowler, Kyunghee Burkitt and Wendi O'Neill.

Kumar Alagramam, PhD, and Ruben Stepanyan, PhD, received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for a grant titled Repurposing a Therapeutic Candidate to Mitigate Synaptopathy and Associated Hearing Loss. Sensorineural hearing loss associated with noise exposure is a major problem among service members and civilians. Interestingly, long-term studies show that approximately 10% of patients had normal audiogram, despite their complaints regarding hearing issues. This “hidden” hearing loss, known as cochlear synaptopathy, often arises due to loss of synapses.

The DOD-funded study will use an established mouse model and noise paradigm to invoke cochlear synaptopathy to test the efficacy of a novel compound in inhibiting cochlear synaptopathy and associated hearing loss.

ENT Institute now has 10 active clinical trials underway, including five active clinical trials for cochlear implantation, three for rhinology and 11 for our head and neck division.

To reach the UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, call 216-868-8943.

Contributing Expert:

Nicole Maronian, MD, FACS
Richard W. and Patricia R. Pogue Leadership Chair in Otolaryngology - HNS
Director, UH Ear Nose and Throat Institute
University Hospitals
Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
Julius W. McCall Associate Professor and Chair
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine