A New Era for Otolaryngology

S+S Fall 2022

As the new Chair and Dr. Eugene N. Myers Endowed Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, José Zevallos has a vision. His priorities and new initiatives will advance the Department in many ways.

“As Chair, I aspire to build innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit into everything we do, whether that be surgical care, education, or research,” he said.

Dr. Zevallos comes to Pittsburgh from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. There, he was Division Chief and Professor of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology.

Having amassed two degrees (MD, MPH), Dr. Zevallos chose Pittsburgh as the next step in his career. “The University of Pittsburgh is one of the elite otolaryngology programs in the United States, and the faculty includes several of our specialty’s most prominent thought leaders and visionaries,” he said. “I was drawn by the opportunity to build upon this remarkable foundation to develop a new standard of excellence in academic otolaryngology.

His priorities and new initiatives include:

Population Sciences Center: The head and neck cancer translational research program at UPMC is one of the strongest in the nation. One area where there is an opportunity to make a larger impact is in population sciences in head and neck cancer. “We intend to recruit national leaders in head and neck cancer epidemiology to focus on primary prevention, early detection, and improving head and neck cancer disparities in access to care and outcomes,” Dr. Zevallos said.

Complex Airway Center: There is an opportunity to build a multidisciplinary team focus on complex airway surgery and airway reconstruction. Few centers in the United States have dedicated teams like this. Coupled with a strong translational research program, a complex airway center could serve as a regional and national referral center. 

Head and Neck Microbiome Research: Disruption of the microbiome is central to many of the conditions treated by otolaryngologists, including sinus disease, otitis media, and even head and neck cancer. “Over the next several years, I hope to leverage the existing strengths in microbiome research at the University of Pittsburgh to support a group of clinicians and scientists focused on understanding how microbiome dysbiosis affects diseases of the head and neck,” Dr. Zevallos said.

PHRC 2.0:  Dr. Zevallos will work with Dr. Tzounopoulos and his team to develop the phase of the Pittsburgh Hearing Research Center (PHRC). This highly successful program in hearing sciences is already among the best in the United States. Over the next five years, they would like to usher in PHRC 2.0, with an emphasis on developing an incubator space where novel research discoveries can be rapidly evaluated and translated for potential commercialization. 

Dr. Zevallos realizes the importance of the Eye & Ear Foundation supporting the Department, and how lucky he is to have that because it is not the case for other departments and universities. Donate at eyeandear.org to support the research listed.