Message From the Chair

Moving Forward

Here at UCSF, we have been most fortunate regarding the pandemic. Our societal control measures have paid dividends with regard to dissemination of the SARS CoV-2 virus, yet incompleteness of vaccination in our population was a cause of our summer surge in hospitalizations. Fortunately, our capacity was adequate to handle the onslaught, and our team was able to continue to care for our population with minimal interruption. Between a rollout of booster shots and full FDA approval of the vaccine, I hope that during the winter the pandemic will be curtailed.

Our team has achieved a number of important external acknowledgements of our efforts. U.S. News & World Report ranked our department #5 in the nation in its most recent survey. We believe that our outstanding patient outcomes, survival, and placement at discharge from the hospital were the key factors in this ranking. 

Much of the credit for these hospital-based metrics goes to our Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery team, led by Patrick Ha, MD, and our fabulous Facial Plastic and Reconstructive team, led by P. Daniel Knott, MD. Also, our skull base surgeons – led by Ivan El-Sayed, MD, on the anterior/rhinology approach side and Charles Limb, MD, on the lateral/otology side – contribute to our outstanding patient outcomes for tertiary care problems. We are very fortunate to have the resources of UCSF Health to support the special needs of our most complex and tertiary surgical care issues.

On the research side, I am very proud that we have moved up to #4 in the nation for NIH funding. This is due to the magnificent work of our Coleman Lab, headed by Christoph Schreiner, MD, PhD, and of our Head and Neck Signaling Lab, which is run by our vice chair, Daniel Johnson, PhD, and our Werbe Distinguished Professor, Jennifer Grandis, MD. Additionally, Dylan Chan, MD, PhD; Aaron Tward, MD, PhD; Andrea Hasenstaub, PhD; Matt Spitzer, PhD; Young-Wook Jun, PhD; John Houde, PhD; Steve Cheung, MD; and Taha Jan, MD, have all achieved significant success in their research foci. Our group investigates central auditory processing, cochlear physiology, tissue engineering, cancer-related signaling, immunology, stem cells, functional imaging, and nanoparticle engineering. As is the saying at UCSF, our research team is “quietly awesome.”

With education being a primary focus of the department, I hope you will have a chance to meet those who represent the future of our field – our new resident and fellow cohort. Congratulations to our soon-to-graduate chiefs and also to the stalwart administration of the residency program: Steve Pletcher, MD (Program Director), VyVy Young, MD (Associate Program Director), Jose Gurrola, II, MD (Diversity Director), and Pranathi Sundaram (Education Program Coordinator). Their creativity and wisdom in adapting to pandemic conditions has allowed us to sustain a fabulous educational experience for all of our learners.

Have a peaceful holiday season. I hope to see you soon in person!

Andrew H. Murr, MD, FACS
Professor and Chair
UCSF Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery