John S. Oghalai, MD, has been recruited to serve as the new chair of the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, effective Aug. 1.

He joins the Keck School of Medicine of USC from Stanford University School of Medicine after a national search, according to Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, dean of the Keck School and director of the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute.

“We look forward to Dr. Oghalai’s arrival in August and have great expectations for him to continue the department’s ascending trajectory in quality clinical care, resident and fellow education, and research,” Varma said in a memo announcing Oghalai’s recruitment. “Please join us in welcoming him to the Trojan family.”

John S. Oghalai

Oghalai has been a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine since 2010. He also is director of the Stanford Children’s Hearing Center and has joint academic appointments in the departments of neurosurgery and pediatrics at Stanford. He is the director of the Clinician-Scientist Training Program in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford, which is funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (T32).

Oghalai has built a nationwide referral practice in the subspecialty care of patients with diseases of the ear and skull base. He has been a leader in the development of comprehensive medical and surgical care strategies while on faculty at both Stanford University School of Medicine and at Baylor College of Medicine. At both sites he designed and led team-based multidisciplinary programs to provide care for children with complex hearing loss. Oghalai was appointed a Stanford School of Medicine Faculty Fellow in 2012, was elected a fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 2007, has received a number of teaching awards, and has been a guest examiner for the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery several times.

As a clinician-scientist, Oghalai feels strongly that the mission of an academic department in a research medical school is to work toward development of innovative procedures and strategies that improve patient care. His current research includes a prospective clinical trial in pediatric cochlear implant recipients, translational research in imaging of the cochlea and of the auditory cortex in human subjects, and basic science research in the fundamental mechanisms of cochlear physiology. He has a long history of research funding through the NIH, the Department of Defense and private foundations, and has published in top journals including Science, PNAS, Nature Communications and the Journal of Neuroscience. Many of his trainees have received awards and research funding for their work in his lab. He recently co-authored a surgical atlas detailing lateral skull base surgery approaches published by Springer. He has been actively engaged on numerous study sections and grant review panels, and has served as an associate editor for Laryngoscope (Otology Section) and on the editorial board of Otology and Neurotology, in addition to a leading role on multiple committees in academic societies related to his work.

Oghalai received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also received his medical degree. He then did an internship in general surgery and residency training in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. During that time, he took two years off of clinical activities for a basic science research post-doctoral fellowship. He completed his medical training with a subspecialty fellowship in neurotology and skull base surgery at University of California San Francisco. He joined the faculty at Baylor as an assistant professor in the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in 2003, and was recruited to Stanford University School of Medicine in 2010.

Oghalai is married to Tracy Nguyen-Oghalai, MD, who is a rheumatologist. They have two children, Kevin, 16, and Tom, 12. Together, they enjoy hiking, biking, camping with the Boy Scouts, and traveling.

Varma also thanked Dennis Maceri, MD, for serving as interim chair for the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery since the death of John Niparko, MD, and for his assistance in the transition to a new chair.

“Dr. Maceri has done a tremendous job of leading the complex services provided by the department at all its sites,” Varma said. “We are indebted to his stewardship.”

The Search Committee was chaired by Steven Giannotta, MD, chair and professor of neurological surgery, and represented the Keck School, Keck Medical Center of USC, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. Members were: Craig Baker, MD, associate professor of clinical surgery (educational scholar) and vice chair of educational affairs; Ron Ben-Ari, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine (educational scholar) and associate dean for continuing medical education, associate dean for curriculum, and vice chair for LAC+USC affairs; Thomas Buchanan, MD, professor of medicine and vice dean for research; Edward Crandall, PhD, MD, chair and professor of medicine; Judy Garner, PhD, vice dean for faculty affairs; Rod Hanners, COO of Keck Medicine and CEO, Keck Medical Center; Tom Jackiewicz, MPH, senior vice president and CEO of Keck Medicine; Andy McMahon, PhD, chair of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine; Laura Mosqueda, MD, chair and professor of family medicine (clinical scholar); Daniel Oakes, MD, associate professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery; David Peng, MD, chair and professor of clinical dermatology; Larissa Rodríguez, MD, professor of urology; Brad Spellberg, MD, professor of clinical medicine and associate dean for clinical affairs (LAC+USC); and Alan Wayne, MD, professor of pediatrics (clinical scholar).