Cleft and Craniofacial Disorders

Dr. Skirko is the Director of the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology and the Medical Director of the Cleft and Craniofacial Program at Banner – University Medicine Tucson. He has melded his expertise in clinical research with his passion for providing care for children with cleft and craniofacial disorders. The combination of clinician and researcher allows for evidence-based care alongside cutting-edge research that is life-changing for families. As a Cleft Surgeon, he works with families to choose the best treatment plan for their child based on leading research. As a clinical researcher, he uses his observations and clinical insights to help design research that is important to improving the care of children with cleft and craniofacial disorders.

Dr. Skirko leads a team of researchers at the University of Arizona where his research is funded by the NIH, PCORI, as well as other foundations. Dr. Skirko also leads collaborative research with a consortium of cleft and craniofacial centers across the country. Creating and building a multisite consortium of cleft centers is critical to advancing our understanding of rare cleft and craniofacial disorders so that we can provide the best care to our patients.

Rhinology/Skull Base

Dr. Eugene Chang is a surgeon-scientist with a clinical and research focus on endoscopic sinus and skull base surgery. 

The main focus of the Chang Laboratory is to determine the mechanisms underlying chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), a complex heterogeneous disorder affecting 15 million people in the United States with costs exceeding 11 billion dollars per year. Currently, our therapies include medications and surgeries that treat the symptoms of the disease. The goal of the Chang Laboratory is to utilize modern molecular techniques to identify the primary cause of CRS and translate these findings to improve therapies for our patients.

Our research interests include:

  • CFTR-related sinus disease: identify the mechanism of disease for those with cystic fibrosis (two CFTR mutations) and CF carriers (single CFTR mutation).
  • Rhinovirus and unified airway disease: Rhinovirus is implicated in chronic rhinosinusitis, asthma, and COPD exacerbations. Our goal is to identify the genome-virome epithelial response in airway epithelia.
  • Craniofacial sinus modeling: use of 3-d volumetric CT imaging to quantify sinus morphology and mucosal disease.
  • Improving physician-patient communication: utilizing personalized video teachings and recordings to improve patient medical recall and satisfaction.

Dr. Chang receives active funding research support from the NIH, and recently received an award from the Flinn Foundation. Dr. Chang's dedicated lab website can be viewed here.


Dr. Robin Samlan, Assistant Professor in the College of Speech and Hearing, received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 2012.  Prior to her Ph.D., Dr. Samlan worked as a faculty speech therapist in the Department of Otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins.  She has had multiple collaborations with Drs. Paul Flint and Allen Hillel and has great experience working with Otolaryngology residents and faculty in collaborative research studies.  After an additional post-graduate year of training at UCLA in 2012, Dr. Samlan returned to the UA in June of 2013 to begin her career as an Assistant Professor in the College of Speech and Hearing Sciences.  

The Vocal Function Laboratory studies the anatomy, physiology, measurement, and perception of voice and resonance in normal and impaired systems. Current and future work is focused on understanding how vocal fold asymmetries alter voice production and perceived quality. Laboratory projects involve the collection and analysis of videostroboscopic, high-speed video, acoustic, aerodynamic, and electroglottographic data.

Head and Neck Cancer

Dr. Carlos Caulin is the Director of Translational Head and Neck Cancer research for the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He received his Ph.D. from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain. Prior to joining the University of Arizona Otolaryngology Department, he had a joint appointment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as Associate Professor of both the Department of Head and Neck Surgery and the Department of Genetics.

Dr. Caulin’s laboratory investigates biological mechanisms involved in head and neck cancer and his research interests include studying how mutations that accumulate in tumor epithelial cells contribute to cancer development, modulate the immune microenvironment of the tumors, and promote resistance to therapy, including immunotherapies. The lab generates mouse models tailored to study these processes and uses these mice to conduct relevant preclinical studies and to identify mechanisms of resistance to therapy. Performing cross-species analyses of the tumors generated in these mice and human head and neck cancers makes it possible to identify new cancer drivers and refine therapeutic strategies.