I am pleased to welcome you to the website for the University of Arizona Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. We are the newest department at the University of Arizona College of Medicine with a growing academic and clinical program. We offer advanced educational training for current and aspiring otolaryngologists, conduct ground-breaking research, and provide expert comprehensive otolaryngology care for patients throughout Arizona and the Southwest. I invite you to explore our website and meet our dedicated team of faculty, residents and staff.
Our history began as the first medical school in the state of Arizona, which was founded by the University of Arizona in Tucson more than 50 years ago. The first University of Arizona otolaryngology program initially started 40 years ago, and the ENT residency program trained 14 residents through 1989. Subsequently, a more than 20 year hiatus followed which was marked by an absence of any academic otolaryngology presence, before an otolaryngology residency program was re-started in 2013. The Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine—Tucson was established in 2014, and our department’s inaugural otolaryngology residency graduation was held in June 2017.
In 2015, the University of Arizona and Banner Health entered into a historic 30 year academic affiliation agreement, creating a partnership between the only allopathic medical school in the state and one of the largest non-profit hospital systems in the country. The benefits of this historic partnership for the state of Arizona are many, including new investment of 1.2 billion dollars for academic medicine in Arizona. This investment has directly benefited the University of Arizona Otolaryngology program, which moved into the new Banner University Medicine North clinic in January 2018, a state of the art 208,000 square feet multispecialty clinic located 2 miles north of the main hospital. Our old ENT clinic, which was located in the 1970s-era main hospital building has been transformed into modern, new administrative offices. In May 2018, our department’s administrative and faculty offices moved out from our “borrowed” space within the Department of Surgery to the bright, modern larger space of our former ENT clinic. Finally, construction of a new, $400 million, nine-story hospital tower to replace the older sections of the hospital is well underway. The new hospital tower opens in April 2019, featuring new operating room facilities, labor and delivery rooms, and all-private hospital rooms for patients and their families.
Our mission as an academic otolaryngology department is to educate and inspire our students and trainees, to innovate and make discoveries to be shared with the world, and to heal when possible but care always for our patients.
This past year, we welcomed 5 new faculty to our department. Dr. Jonathan Young completed his residency training at Virginia Commonwealth University followed by a pediatric otolaryngology fellowship at U of Colorado. Dr. Young serves as the Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology, offering specialized pediatric ENT services in the inpatient and outpatient setting. In his first year, Dr. Young established a new pediatric ENT clinic within Banner’s pediatric specialty clinics at Wilmot and forged strong collaborations with multidisciplinary pediatric specialists in the Banner Diamond Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Shethal Bearelly completed his residency training at UCSF in 2016. After completing a one-year head and neck surgery fellowship at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Bearelly joined our Dept, bringing his skills in microvascular reconstructive surgery, robotic surgery, endocrine surgery, and sialendoscopy. Dr. Bearelly also serves as assistant residency program director and was elected to the UA College of Medicine Admissions Committee.
Dr. Helena Yip completed her residency training at UC Davis followed by a laryngology fellowship at Stanford University. Dr. Yip’s clinical practice focuses on laryngology and she participates in joint multidisciplinary Voice and Dysphagia clinics with the UA Speech-Language Pathology program. She is also active in the North clinic operations group and enjoys teaching and mentoring residents.
Dr. Heather Coffman is a fellowship-trained otologist who previously was on faculty at UC Davis. Dr. Coffman and her family moved to Arizona in 2015, first joining a private practice in Flagstaff. In January 2018, Dr. Coffman joined our Department. She provides care for patients with chronic ear disease and performs surgery for hearing loss. Dr. Coffman has a passion and enthusiasm for education, and her mentorship of residents is most valued.
Dr. Carlos Caulin, a senior research scientist from MD Anderson, moved his research lab to the UA Cancer Center and is our department’s new Director for Head and Neck Cancer Research. Dr. Caulin conducts NIH-funded research using mouse experimental models to study head and neck cancers.
Dr. Marina Cardo-Vila is a cancer immunobiologist from the University of New Mexico who is bringing her expertise to the UA Cancer Center. She will work collaboratively to develop methods for tissue-specific delivery of therapeutic agents as well as improving our understanding of molecular interactions involved in cancer biology and drug resistance.
This past year was once again prolific for publications, presentations, and research awards, including 32 peer-reviewed publications from our department’s faculty and residents. We were well represented with oral and poster presentations at all the major national meetings.
Major research awards for our Dept include Dr. Carlos Caulin, who was just awarded a $1.9 million dollar NIH grant to study mechanisms of invasion and metastasis in adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary glands. Dr. Shethal Bearelly received a $10,000 Pilot Grant from the American Head and Neck Society to support his research study of the Role of Oral Tactile Sensation in Dysphagia. Dr. Eugene Chang and Dr. Sam Barber research proposal, “Close Shave: Hybrid-reality Surgical Simulation,’ received a $100,000 Research, Discovery, and Innovation grant from the Improving Health TRIF initiative. Their preliminary work using 3-D printed surgical instruments shows promise to develop a powerful, effective Virtual Reality surgical simulation platform in the near future.
The reach of this department goes beyond our own local community. Indeed, our impact is global. In October 2017, I was invited to speak at the 7th International Robotic Surgery Symposium in Seoul, Korea. In March 2018, Dr. Young participated in a humanitarian mission to Nanjing, China with the Children of China Pediatric Foundation. There, where he taught local plastic surgeons from public hospitals cleft lip / cleft palate repair and other craniofacial techniques. In April 2018, Dr. Chang was invited to speak at the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine in Italy, along with several other U of A researchers. On April 13, 2018, we celebrated the 33 year career of Dr. Chul Kim, who transitioned from Professor of Otolaryngology to Emeritus status. Dr. Kim has embarked on a 6 month mission to Ethiopia at the MyungSung Christian Medical College in Addis Abbaba, teaching biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology to medical students in a part of the world desperately short of physicians.
Today, our educational, clinical, and research programs are thriving. I invite you to come learn with us, and join us as we continue our journey to become one of the premier Otolaryngology programs in the country.
Steven J. Wang, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery