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


Innovations in Ear, Nose & Throat | Fall 2021

Over the past 18 months, multifaceted stressors have placed a persistent strain on health care. Throughout the pandemic, our University Hospitals Ear, Nose & Throat Institute team has been nimble, innovative and willing to tackle unprecedented challenges.

Nicole Maronian, MD ENT
Nicole Maronian, MD

Whether assuring consistency of care in intense, high-capacity situations, embracing virtual connectivity to reach patients, engaging medical students or differentiating responsibilities to maintain staffing, everyone has risen to the occasion. I am incredibly proud and humbled by our dedicated team members’ exceptional resiliency and esprit de corps. As we remain committed to the UH mission — To heal. To teach. To discover. — here are some recent updates.

Expansion of Services

Since transitioning to the UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, UH Speech Pathology continues to contribute to our journey toward systemness. As we break down traditional silos of care, we help ensure an increased utilization of speech and language services across the entirety of our enterprise. Additionally, we are working to align patient transitions along consistent care pathways, including pediatric to adult and inpatient to outpatient. For example, we are standardizing our modified barium swallow reporting so that therapists systemwide are using the same documentation within a shared electronic document to drive optimal patient outcomes.

As medical director of telehealth across UH service lines, Brian D’Anza, MD, continues to lead telehealth expansion. Within the UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, we are integrating virtual appointments for appropriate patients in impactful ways to address the growing demand for access to care. In the coming months, we will fully shift to a single interface to standardize virtual connectivity systemwide.

Continued Pursuit of Discovery

Despite complications related to the pandemic, physicians within the UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute have continued to pursue robust research initiatives. In fact, publications in 2021 doubled over the previous year. With more than eight active clinical trials underway in ENT and Head and Neck, the ongoing productivity of our group reflects our investment in clinical research infrastructure. The following individuals share in our accomplishments:

  • Recently hired Clinical Research Specialist III Meghna Khare Nayate, MA
  • Clinical Research Fellows Claudia Cabrera Aviles, MD, MS, Divya Balchander, MS 3, and Jack Dewey, MS 4
  • Statisticians under the direction of Nirav Patil, MBBS, MPH
  • 21 talented and motivated fellows, residents and more than 40 medical students currently working on ENT research and publications
  • Six PhD collaborators who are fully vested in the research pathway of our trainees

Research from the lab of Quintin Pan, PhD and several department collaborators was published in the September 2021 issue of Cancer, “Impact of p16 status and anatomical site in anti-PD-1 immunotherapy-treated recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients.”

Brian McDermott, PhD and his research team published an original research article titled “Tmc Reliance Is Biased by the Hair Cell Subtype and Position Within the Ear” in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. In addition, he published a commentary in Current Biology titled “Lateral line: From water waves to brain waves.”

In September, Kumar Alagramam, PhD (Principal Investigator) and Ruben Stepanayan, PhD (Co-investigator) were awarded a 2-year grant from the Department of Defense to repurpose a therapeutic candidate drug to mitigate synaptopathy and associated hearing loss in a mouse model of hidden hearing loss in humans.

Jonathan Baskin, MD received funding through the recently awarded, $1.9 million Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership, with support provided by JobsOhio for the Cleveland Innovation District. One of 10 promising university-based biomedical technologies, his project (“Enabling closed-loop baroreflex activation in the treatment of refractory hypertension”) employs an implanted neuromodulatory system to address the serious health risks associated with hypertension.

Team Highlights

Wendi O’Neill, DDS was appointed Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine effective July 1, 2021. Dr. O’Neill received her DDS from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and completed her oral and maxillofacial pathology residency at The Ohio State University. Board-certified in oral and maxillofacial pathology, she has a research focus on oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Dr. O’Neill was appointed as a Vinney Cancer Genomics Innovation Scholar in 2021 to investigate the link between germline polymorphisms, immune function and risk of HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer.

Fifth-year resident Chelsea Hamill, MD received the 2021 Harry W. McCurdy, MD Resident Leadership Grant at this year’s American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO–HNF) annual meeting, held in Los Angeles in October. The leadership grant is awarded to a resident in their fifth year.

And we are excited to announce that Shawn Roof, DO will lead our University Hospital St. John Medical Center location, focused on Comprehensive Otolaryngology. With more than 25 years of experience, we welcome him and his family back to Northeast Ohio.

In this season of thanks, I am truly grateful for my colleagues here at UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute.

With warm regards, Nicole

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

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