Research is a core component of the mission of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences (HNS&CS). The basic and translational research enterprise at the University and School of Medicine level provides a rich environment for students, residents, fellows, and faculty. With the newly developed departmental status, an ongoing strategic priority has been to greatly expand HNS&CS research efforts, in parallel with clinical growth.
Currently, the department has 7 faculty members supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, with additional programs supported by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and other extramural sources. Our research programs address problems across the breadth of otolaryngology, including head and neck cancer, hearing and balance disorders, global health issues, airway and inflammatory diseases, olfaction, speech and swallowing dysfunction, and clinical outcomes.
In addition, collaborations with scientists outside of the department provide opportunities to address unmet needs leveraging Duke’s world-class academic programs. With resources, including superb core facilities and institutes (Cores), unparalleled infrastructure supporting clinician-scientists (Office of Physician-Scientist Development), and institutional initiatives, such as Translating Duke Health, Duke HNS&CS will be a local, national and global leader in the advancement of otolaryngology innovations.
Current NIH Funding
Click links to NIH RePORT for project details.
- “ADDRESSING BARRIERS TO ADULT HEARING HEALTHCARE”
- “COMPUTATIONAL MODELING OF THE MATURE UNILATERAL CLEFT LIP NASAL DEFORMITY FOR OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT OF PATIENT NASAL FUNCTION AND TREATMENT OUTCOMES”
- “THERAPEUTIC POTENTIAL FOR MODULATION OF OLFACTORY BASAL STEM CELLS”
- “PARTNERSHIP TO ESTABLISH A PRACTICE BASED NETWORK TO ASSESS FOR HEAD AND NECK CANCERS USING A LOW-COST PORTABLE FLEXIBLE NASOPHARYNGOSCOPE”
- “TARGETING MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS IN HEAD AND NECK CANCER”
Head and Neck Cancer Research
Projects in head and neck cancer research focus on improving the delivery of value based health care in low resource settings, particularly through implementation of innovative devices. In addition, investigators are studying the pathophysiology of the tumor microenvironment HPV-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Projects in global health include improving head and neck cancer screening through a low cost fiberoptic scope and providing solar powered hearing aids to low income children (Vietnam). Several of our residents have been awarded the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Resident Travel Award for various humanitarian work in Africa, Asia, and Central America. We are working with Kenyan otolaryngologists to develop a hearing screening program with the goal of starting a cochlear implant program.
Hearing and Balance Research
The Duke Vestibular Disorders Clinic conducts clinical research to discover new therapies for people with balance disorders. The department, working with the Duke Clinical Research Institute, is spearheading the formation of a practice-based clinical research network to enhance clinical research in hearing and balance disorders. We're conducting a project to evaluate the effects of cochlear implantation on the balance system. We're are currently enrolling subjects. We are evaluating new techniques for monitoring hearing during acoustic neuroma surgery. We're developing a strategic plan for building a pediatric cochlear implant program that offers a comprehensive network of services and support for deaf and hearing-impaired children across the state.
Dr. Brad Goldstein's lab utilizes multiple approaches to identify mechanisms regulating adult basal stem and progenitor cells in the olfactory epithelium, as well as olfactory tissue maintenance and renewal. The lab's overall goal is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms causing acquired human olfactory disorders, to facilitate the development of new treatments.
The focus of Dr. Frank-Ito's research is the application of computational methods to investigate physiology and pathophysiology of the nose, larynx, and ear. Dr. Hua's research is focused on airway mucosal immunology, principally on how the nose immunologically impacts the lungs.
Speech and Voice Research
Research from the Duke Voice Care Center is documenting the prevalence of voice disorders and how they affect quality of life. Harrison Jones, PhD, is leading a study to examine speech characteristics in individuals with Down syndrome (DS) to assess and describe the nature of speech disorders commonly found in DS individuals.
Researchers from our department are leading research endeavors to test and develop assistive technologies that individuals with speech and auditory disorders can use to better communicate. Additionally, we are involved in research to create outcomes measurement tools and techniques that measure the impact of assistive technology devices on the lives of people with disabilities and their caregivers.
Harrison Jones, PhD, is collaborating with Priya Kishnani, PhD, to conduct a systematic investigation into the use of respiratory muscle training (RMT) to increase inspiratory and expiratory strength in adults and children with Pompe disease. Dr. Seth Cohen's areas of interest encompass health services research related to voice and swallowing disorders.
The academic culture within the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences integrates research throughout the residency training program. Our trainees are offered both basic and clinical research opportunities spanning the breadth of our specialty. We offer a traditional 5-year residency track and a 7-year research track, through separate match codes. All residents can and do participate in research activities throughout their training. Trainees may identify research mentors from within or outside the department, providing an ability to focus on a broad range of subjects, including cancer biology, stem cells, neuroscience, global health, aging disorders, and more. Learn more about resident research opportunities.
Recent publications from the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences: Publications.