October 31, 2008

Eavey to lead Otolaryngology, Wilkerson Center

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Ron Eavey, M.D.

Eavey to lead Otolaryngology, Wilkerson Center

Roland Eavey, M.D., left, and his wife, Sheila Desmond, M.D., center, with their children, from left, Liz, Roland and Ryan on a recent family vacation in British Columbia.

Roland Eavey, M.D., left, and his wife, Sheila Desmond, M.D., center, with their children, from left, Liz, Roland and Ryan on a recent family vacation in British Columbia.

Harvard's Roland “Ron” Eavey, M.D., will become the new chair of Vanderbilt's Department of Otolaryngology and director of the Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Hearing and Speech Sciences, effective February 2009.

Eavey, director of ENT Pediatric Services at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard since 1981, succeeds founding chair Robert Ossoff, M.D., who announced last year that he would transition into a new role at Vanderbilt in December.

The nationwide search also yielded a strong addition to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, as Eavey's wife, Sheila Desmond, M.D., also a faculty member and pediatrician at Harvard, will join the Vanderbilt faculty.

“I think it speaks volumes about Vanderbilt and Dr. Ossoff's department when we land two of Harvard's best doctors to join our team and our mission,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“Dr. Eavey is poised to pick up where Dr. Ossoff left off and take Bill Wilkerson and the department to the next level.”

Desmond is currently Unit Chief of Adolescent and Pediatric Medicine at the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center in Boston, a thriving pediatric center dedicated to providing care to ethnically and socio-economically diverse populations.

“Dr. Eavey is an accomplished and committed teacher who has won a number of awards,” said Jeff Balser, M.D, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “His presence here will undoubtedly leverage the broad capabilities of the Medical Center and University toward solving problems in the communications sciences.

“His spouse, Dr. Sheila Desmond, is also a highly-regarded faculty member and pediatrician. She brings extraordinary expertise and experience in child health, and we are most fortunate to have recruited her to work with us.”

Eavey said he has visited many campuses over the years but has never seen anything like the “massive unit functioning together” at Vanderbilt.

“When I was looking at Vanderbilt it wasn't just as an ENT surgeon but as someone who thinks about primary care as well, and someone who is looking at it from a business systems perspective. And I have never seen or felt anything like Vanderbilt,” Eavey said.

“And I could see it, taste it, smell it, hear it and feel it when I saw the ingredients. The ingredients are there just like for the Iron Chef.”

The committee that conducted the national search to find Ossoff's successor included Paul Sternberg, M.D., Shari Barkin, M.D., James Berry, M.D., Jill Gilbert, M.D., Arnold Malcolm, M.D., Al Reynolds, Ph.D., and Reid Thompson, M.D.

“We conducted a comprehensive, rigorous search process, which identified a large number of strong internal and external candidates from across the country,” Sternberg said.

“The Search Committee recommended Dr. Eavey with great enthusiasm to Dean Balser. Dr. Eavey has had a very distinguished career as a clinician, educator, and investigator, and is exceptionally bright, creative and innovative. We are excited that he has accepted Vanderbilt's offer and will be joining us.”

Eavey received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and served his residency in Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles from 1975-1977.

He continued his training in surgery, completing residency and clinical fellowships in Otolaryngology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School.

Eavey's broad-based research is funded by a number of agencies and foundations, including the National Institutes of Health.

His recent work includes studies in tissue engineering for severe congenital ear malformations with Charles Vacanti, M.D., and hereditary sensorineural hearing loss with Jonathan Seidman, M.D., and Christine Seidman, M.D. His work has reached national and international attention, with publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Ossoff, who recently transitioned from his role as director and chair, will become assistant vice chancellor for Compliance and Corporate Integrity after James Snell, M.D., retires in December.

“I am pleased with the selection and successful recruitment of Ron,” Ossoff said. “He will bring fresh ideas to the center and to the department with a strong emphasis on communications disorders as well as pediatric otolaryngology, which is a real plus not only for Vanderbilt as a whole but also for Children's Hospital.”

Ossoff will remain executive medical director of the Vanderbilt Voice Center and serve as the new Maness Professor of Laryngology and Voice while continuing to be active in patient care, resident education and laryngology fellowship education.