Established in 1976, the division of otolaryngology was recognized as an independent department in 2002 building on a long history of excellence in patient care, education and research. Since then, the department has experienced tremendous growth and gained a national reputation for its clinical and educational mission. The department includes subspecialists in all major Otolaryngology disciplines including Rhinology, Skull-base, Head and Neck, Laryngology, Otology, Facial Plastics, Pediatric Otolaryngology, Endocrine, and Sleep surgery. The faculty are supported by strong clinical, administrative, and research support staff including pre- and post-doctoral fellows, a dedicated research coordinator and research technicians housed in recently-renovated, well-equipped laboratory space.

Research

The Medical College of Georgia Department of Otolaryngology is well known for its extensive research endeavors. The department is currently conducting over 40 studies, and in the last 5 years has published over 140 papers, establishing it as one of the leading institutions for research. Our research is supported by the NIH and other external sponsors; it includes both basic and clinical investigation in all major areas of otolaryngology.

Current Research
Current research includes forty-one studies, two grants, and one sponsored study spanning all of the major otolaryngological areas. Our department is dedicated to fostering an environment that is conducive to generating quality and cutting-edge research. Research programs are interdisciplinary and include both basic and clinical research that focus on evidence-based outcomes. We strive to offer state of the art patient care while promoting resident mentorship that will propel them into careers as independent investigators.

Grants and Sponsorships

Minimally Invasive Multiplexed Assays for the Detection of Thyroid Cancer
Principal Investigator: Paul Weinberger, MD Sponsor: National Cancer Institute Up to 20% of Thyroid fine needle biopsies are inconclusive. Most such patients will have part of their thyroid gland removed surgically, but in most cases (75%) there is not cancer on final examination. This project will apply two proteomics techniques: multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) and Luminex, for the detection of biomarkers Galectin-3 and HBME-1 in complex biological fluids. We hypothesize that detection of galectin-3 and HBME-1 by MRM or Luminex, will allow minimally-invasive detection of Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma from thyroid FNA needle washings and serum.

Making Tracheal Transplantation Possible for Patients with Tracheal Stenosis in Developing Countries
Principal Investigator: Paul Weinberger, MD Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation This project applies regenerative medicine to the problem of tracheal stenosis, specifically as a global health issue. The current proposal will allow expansion of our current animal model for tracheal transplantation, and explore the use of the body as an in-vivo bioreactor, using a novel rotational flap-based design. Phase two of this project would involve deploying the technology and techniques in a third-world setting, by training surgeons to perform the transplantation.

Clinical Trials

LittlEars Auditory Questionnaire & First Words List: Children with MED-EL Cochlear Implant System
Principal Investigator: Sarah Mowry, MD Sponsor: Med-el The purpose of the study is to determine early lexical development of children with hearing impairment who receive a cochlear implant. In particular, early vocabulary development will be assessed and analyzed. Analyses will be conducted using descriptive statistical methods. As this is an international study the results obtained from various languages will be compared.

Ongoing Research

Our department is committed to excellence and meeting the needs of the patients we serve. Translational clinical research is a major component of fostering the best medical education and research environment for our patients and residents. A few of our most recent research endeavors are listed below.

Greg Postma, MD

    • Retrospective Review of Patients with Laryngological Disorders
    • Transnasal Esophagoscopy: A Multi-Institutional Prospective Evaluation
    • Evaluation of a subjective airway stenosis scale

Stilianos Kountakis, MD

    • Retrospective Review of Patients with Rhinologic Disorders
    • Absorbable Hemostatics in Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

J. Kenneth Byrd, MD

    • Cost-effectiveness analysis
    • Outcomes of treatment for head and neck cancer

Laboratories

Resident and Student Research Opportunities

Resident Research
The Otolaryngology residency program at Augusta University has a strong tradition of research excellence. Throughout your residency, you will be expected to participate in research projects resulting in a publication-quality product each year PGY2-PGY5. Residents should pro-actively seek out opportunities to become involved in active/ongoing projects or propose an original idea.  Projects may be anything from a randomized-control trial to a case report, basic science, or quality-of-life outcomes.  During the 3rd year of residency, there will be a 4-month block of protected time provided for the resident to conduct a focused research project.  The timeframe for the research block will be determined by the Residency Program Director and will be either from Aug-Nov or Dec-April.

Resident Research Timeline
The committee on resident research has assembled the following criteria and dates for submission of the research proposal. Residents are required to present and defend a research proposal at a special faculty meeting. 

PGY 1 year
Residents should begin investigating faculty members' research interests, and begin discussions to identify potentially interesting areas of research.

October 1 – PGY2 year
Finish selecting a faculty advisor and research interests.  If research is to be conducted outside of the department, this decision must be agreed upon with your faculty advisor and the Director of Research.  Please refer to the enclosed list of full time faculty and their area of research interests.

December 1 – PGY2 year
Submit the title and 1 page abstract for your planned research project to the Director of Research.  You must include the names of your full-time faculty advisor, research advisor (if different) and the laboratory or other location where you will be conducting your research. The Director of Research must approve your research plan, and will offer suggestions for any changes or re-directions necessary at this point.

January 15 – PGY2 year
Submit completed research proposal to the Director of Research for distribution to the faculty.  The proposal should be approved by your research advisor, prior to distribution, as signified by their signature on the title page.  Please refer to the enclosed criteria for an outline of what components should be included in the research proposal.

February – PGY2 year
Present research proposal at a special faculty meeting.  Presentations should be formal 10-minute research presentations, accompanied by slides and/or handouts as appropriate.  There will be a brief period for questions and answers at the end of the presentation.  Any special requests regarding the desired research block must be made in writing at or prior to the meeting.  Request for changes and resubmission will be forwarded to you within a week of the presentation.

March 30 – PGY2 year
Deadline for revised research proposals reflecting all changes suggested at the research  presentation. Resident research rotations will be determined by at this time. Successful completion of this entire process is required for entry into the dedicated research rotation. Length and format of the research rotation is subject to change by the Residency Director should this be deemed necessary.

Medical Scholars Program                                                                                                                                                                  The Medical College of Georgia Medical Scholars Program offers the opportunity for all medical students in good academic standing to engage in research activities – basic science, translational, clinical, and educational – in close mentorship with faculty who are nationally and internationally distinguished scientists, clinicians, and academic scholars.