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The History of Ear, Nose & Throat Specialty at University Hospitals

The History of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery shows its prestigious and important place in the evolution of modern day ENT

The 1800’s

The first professor of Ophthalmology, Otology and Laryngology at the Medical School of Western Reserve University was Xenophon Christmas Scott who served from 1872 to 1881. After completing his training on the East Coast and in Germany, he also served as the president of the Ohio State Medical Society in 1884. In 1895, John Marvin Ingersoll was subsequently made lecturer in Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology. He was called to serve in WWI and upon his return in 1926, became the President of the then newly formed American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, as well as the Triological Society.

The early 1900’s

His colleague in the division was William B. Chamberlin MD who served as Professor in the Department until his death in 1939. Dr. Chamberlin was the first to introduce the "head in lap" position for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.   He later developed and popularized the tonsillar snare technique which was gradually adopted by nearly all otolaryngologists in the US. In 1927, Carlos Pitkin MD joined the growing department after training at Harvard with Harold Mosher at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear infirmary.  He was named President of the American Brocho-esophogeological  Association (ABEA) from 1944-1945.  He led the division until his retirement in 1947.


C.C. Roe Jackson took the role of acting Chair until Walter Maloney was appointed division head in 1958. He became professor in 1976.  His clinical excellence centered on his expertise in laryngology and broncho-esophagology ultimately resulting in the development of the Maloney Esophageal Dilators.   During the early 1980s, the division had a series of acting chiefs until a decision was made by the Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Chairman of Surgery to create a formal Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.


After an extensive national search, Dr Anthony J. Maniglia was selected from the University of Miami in 1985 as our first official department chairman. He brought with him specific expertise in otology, an area which has remained a particular departmental strength through the current day.  The department started with three full-time faculty which also included Dr Robert Sawyer and Dr James Arnold, who had recently completed a fellowship in Pediatric Otolaryngology at Boston Children’s Hospital, under the mentorship of Gerald Healy MD. Quickly thereafter, the residency program was established and filled spots for two residents per year.  In 1988, Dr Melvin Strauss joined the faculty from Penn State at Hershey after training under Dr Joseph Ogura at Washington University in St Louis.  Further faculty growth occurred in the early 1990s, when David Stepnick MD returned to the department as one of its first resident graduates.  He had completed a microvascular surgery fellowship under Rick Haydon MD and began to develop the Facial Plastics Division.  The Department expanded to include new affiliation agreements with MetroHealth Medical Center and the VA Medical Center under the guidance of Dr. Maniglia.  This brought diverse training opportunities and a wealth of clinical volume that remains a mainstay of the current program.  Dr. Harvey Tucker joined the faculty and fostered development of a division of Laryngology.  Expansion of the residency training program to three residents per year became necessary during this time. Dr Maniglia was nationally recognized as a surgical innovator and developer of one of the first patented totally implantable hearing aid devices. Many of his residents went on to obtain important fellowships nationally and enter the ranks of academic medicine. He left an indelible imprint on the department and remains one of its largest supporters to this day.

Upon Dr Maniglia's retirement in 2000, Dr James Arnold was selected as Chairman and began to create subspecialty divisions.  

These included:

  • Head and Neck Oncology, Director Dr Pierre Lavertu 
  • Otology and Neurotology, Directed by graduate Dr Cliff Megerian (Fellowship Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary) 
  • Pediatrics, Directed by graduate Dr Robert Sprecher (Fellowship Baylor)
  • Research, Directed by Dr. Kumar Alagramam
  • Laryngology, Directed Dr Nicole Maronian (Fellowship University of WA)

Research and innovation remain strong tenants of the department.  Under Dr Kumar Alagramam, internationally recognized for his work in identifying an important gene responsible for Usher's syndrome related deafness, the research division has grown to support 5 full time basic science faculty. 


In 2012, Dr Cliff Megerian was selected as Chairman. Under his guidance, the ENT Institute was established which brought new prominence to the department and a period of unprecedented growth.  The division of Rhinology was formalized with the recruitment of its first chief Dr Ken Rodriguez (Fellowship UNC- Chapel Hill). The UH Regional ENT Center was expanded to 7 faculty during this time and the faculty roster expanded to 34 full time and regional faculty at numerous clinical sites throughout NE Ohio. Faculty were added in Laryngology, Microvascular and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as Pediatric Otolaryngology.  Generous philanthropy allowed for the creation of now 5 endowed chairs or professorships. Recently, US News and World report recognized the Department as a top Otolaryngology program in the country. Due to the large clinical volume, multiple training venues and strong performance of graduates, the ACGME recommended the expansion of the training program to include now 4 residents per year.

The Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery continues to be a major contributor in the field in the areas of research, discovery and innovation.


View ENT Medical Milestones