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Chair, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Chair, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Charleston, SC

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Medicine in Charleston, South Carolina, invites applications and nominations for the position of Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. After more than 20 years of steering the department through remarkable growth, Dr. Paul Lambert will retire from the chair position in the summer of 2021. MUSC and MUSC Health are in the midst of an exciting period of growth with increases in extramural research funding, support for expanding telehealth activities, several new clinical outreach facilities, and the completion of a new Children’s and Women’s Hospital. This is an outstanding opportunity in a city known for its enviable quality of life.

The Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at MUSC is one of the top programs in the nation. It is currently ranked #13 by US News & World Report, #11 for National Institutes of Health funding, and #8 for its residency program. The department consists of approximately 35 faculty representing the major subspecialties including facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, head and neck oncology, laryngology, maxillofacial, otology and neurotology, pediatric otolaryngology, rhinology and sinus surgery, and sleep and breathing disorders.  Faculty lead innovative research projects in allergy and immunology, auditory neuroscience, tumor biology, and voice and swallowing.  The department has a longstanding commitment to outstanding resident and medical student education in addition to multiple fellowship opportunities. The department also has long standing clinical research training program.

MUSC, the state’s only academic health science center, consists of six colleges and educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 750 residents. The University and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.6 billion, with an annual economic impact of nearly $4 billion and annual research funding in excess of $250 million. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized children’s hospital, the NCI-designated Hollings Cancer Center, a Level I trauma center, Institute of Psychiatry, more than 100 outreach locations across the state and South Carolina’s only transplant center.  MUSC has recently expanded its footprint and purchased four community hospitals in the state of South Carolina. These hospitals include Springs Memorial Hospital(now MUSC Health Lancaster Medical Center), Carolinas Hospital System-Florence (now MUSC Health Florence Medical Center), Carolinas Hospital System-Marion (now MUSC Health Marion Medical Center) and Chester Regional Medical Center (now MUSC Health Chester Medical Center).This marks the first time MUSC has acquired other hospitals. It bumps up the number of MUSC employees to more than 16,000 and doubles the number of patient beds – to more than 1,100 – in the MUSC Health network.

The MUSC College of Medicine was the first medical school in the southern United States and the 10th medical school in the country. Today, the college is home to over 1,300 faculty members committed to providing excellence in clinical care and in the training of 740 medical students, 20 master of public health students, and approximately 800 residents and fellows. The college is also home to a robust basic, clinical and translational research enterprise, with more than $248.5 million in extramural research funding awarded in the last year. A national leader on many fronts, the college places strong emphasis on diversity and has been recognized for their efforts on this front.

MUSC seeks a dynamic and accomplished academic physician or physician-scientist with a national reputation to continue the department’s growth and trajectory as a regional, national and international leader in medical education, research, patient care and service. The next chair will be responsible for continuing to enhance multidisciplinary clinical and research collaborations across MUSC. Reporting directly to the dean, MUSC College of Medicine, the chair is charged with advancing the academic, clinical and research missions, serving as a vital partner in framing the strategic direction for MUSC and MUSC Health.

Applicants must be board certified in otolaryngology, possess outstanding leadership skills and administrative experience garnered in an academic medical center setting, and possess a solid track record of commitment to clinical care, education, service and research. Candidates should also support a strong commitment to advancing diversity in academic medicine.

Inquiries, nominations and applications (including an updated CV and Cover Letter) should be directed to Jeff Schroetlin, Joyce De Leo, PhD, and Tiffany Johnson preferably via e-mail, to; or by phone at (916)536-6888.

The Medical University of South Carolina values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity for all persons regardless of age, color,disability, ethnicity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other status protected by law.


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I began studying the vestibular system during my dissertation research at the Università di Pavia with Professors Ivo Prigioni and GianCarlo Russo. I had two postdoctoral fellowships, first at the University of Rochester with Professor Christopher Holt and then at the University of Illinois at Chicago with Professors Jonathan Art and Jay Goldberg.

My research focuses on characterizing the biophysics of synaptic transmission between hair cells and primary afferents in the vestibular system. For many years an outstanding question in vestibular physiology was how the transduction current in the type I hair cell was sufficient, in the face of large conductances on at rest, to depolarize it to potentials necessary for conventional synaptic transmission with its unique afferent calyx.

In collaboration with Dr. Art, I overcame the technical challenges of simultaneously recording from type I hair cells and their enveloping calyx afferent to investigate this question. I was able to show that with depolarization of either hair cell or afferent, potassium ions accumulating in the cleft depolarize the synaptic partner. Conclusions from these studies are that due to the extended apposition between type I hair cell and its afferent, there are three modes of communication across the synapse. The slowest mode of transmission reflects the dynamic changes in potassium ion concentration in the cleft which follow the integral of the ongoing hair cell transduction current. The intermediate mode of transmission is indirectly a result of this potassium elevation which serves as the mechanism by which the hair cell potential is depolarized to levels necessary for calcium influx and the vesicle fusion typical of glutamatergic quanta. This increase in potassium concentration also depolarizes the afferent to potentials that allow the quantal EPSPs to trigger action potentials. The third and most rapid mode of transmission like the slow mode of transmission is bidirectional, and a current flowing out of either hair cell or afferent into the synaptic cleft will divide between a fraction flowing out into the bath, and a fraction flowing across the cleft into its synaptic partner.

The technical achievement of the dual electrode approach has enabled us to identify new facets of vestibular end organ synaptic physiology that in turn raise new questions and challenges for our field. I look forward with great excitement to the next chapter in my scientific story.


Charles C. Della Santina, PhD MD is a Professor of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he directs the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Implant Center and the Johns Hopkins Vestibular NeuroEngineering Laboratory.

As a practicing neurotologic surgeon, Dr. Della Santina specializes in treatment of middle ear, inner ear and auditory/vestibular nerve disorders. His clinical interests include restoration of hearing via cochlear implantation and management of patients who suffer from vestibular disorders, with a particular focus on helping individuals disabled by chronic postural instability and unsteady vision after bilateral loss of vestibular sensation. His laboratory’s research centers on basic and applied research supporting development of vestibular implants, which are medical devices intended to partially restore inner ear sensation of head movement. In addition to that work, his >90 publications include studies characterizing inner ear physiology and anatomy; describing novel clinical tests of vestibular function; and clarifying the effects of cochlear implantation, vestibular implantation, superior canal dehiscence syndrome and intratympanic gentamicin therapy on the inner ear and central nervous system.  Dr. Della Santina is also the founder and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer of Labyrinth Devices LLC, a company dedicated to bringing novel vestibular testing and implant technology into routine clinical care.

Andrew Griffith received his MD and PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1992. He completed his general surgery internship and a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan in 1998. He also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Human Genetics as part of his training at the University of Michigan. In 1998, he joined the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) in the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). He served as a senior investigator, the chief of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Section, the chief of the Otolaryngology Branch, and the director of the DIR, as well as the deputy director for Intramural Clinical Research across the NIH Intramural Research Program. His research program identifies and characterizes molecular and cellular mechanisms of normal and disordered hearing and balance in humans and mouse models. Two primary interests of his program have been hearing loss associated with enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct, and the function of TMC genes and proteins. The latter work lead to the discovery that the deafness gene product TMC1 is a component of the hair cell sensory transduction channel. Since July of 2020, he has served as the Senior Associate Dean of Research and a Professor of Otolaryngology and Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Gwenaëlle S. G. Géléoc obtained a PhD in Sensory Neurobiology from the University of Sciences in Montpellier (France) in 1996. She performed part of her PhD training at the University of Sussex, UK where she characterized sensory transduction in vestibular hair cells and a performed a comparative study between vestibular and cochlear hair cells. Gwenaelle continued her training as an electrophysiologist at University College London studying outer hair cell motility and at Harvard Medical School studying modulation of mechanotransduction in vestibular hair cells. As an independent investigator at the University of Virginia, she expanded this work and characterized the developmental acquisition of sensory transduction in mouse vestibular hair cells, the developmental acquisition of voltage-sensitive conductances in vestibular hair cells and the tonotopic gradient in the acquisition of sensory transduction in the mouse cochlea. This work along with quantitative spatio-temporal studies performed on several hair cell mechanotransduction candidates lead her to TMC1 and 2 and long-term collaborations with Andrew Griffith and Jeff Holt. Dr. Géléoc is currently Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, at Boston Children’s Hospital where she continues to study molecular players involved in the development and function of hair cells of the inner ear and develops new therapies for the treatment of deafness and balance, with a particular focus on Usher syndrome.

Jeff Holt earned a doctorate from the Department of Physiology at the University of Rochester in 1995 for his studies of inward rectifier potassium channels in saccular hair cells.  He went on to a post-doctoral position in the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he characterized sensory transduction and adaptation in hair cells and developed a viral vector system to transfect cultured hair cells.  Dr. Holt’s first faculty position was in the Neuroscience Department at the University of Virginia.  In 2011 the lab moved to Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Holt is currently a Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Neurology in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center.  Dr. Holt and his team have been studying sensory transduction in auditory and vestibular hair cells over the past 20 years, with particular focus on TMC1 and TMC2 over the past 12 years.  This work lead to the discovery that TMC1 forms the hair cell transduction channel.  His work also focuses on development gene therapy strategies for genetic hearing loss.