September 14, 2007

Voice Center’s Ossoff taking new role

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Robert Ossoff, M.D., with one of the many gifts from entertainment industry patients. (photo by Neil Brake)

Voice Center’s Ossoff taking new role

Robert Ossoff, M.D., is transitioning from his role as director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, effective next June, after a storied career spanning 22 years of assisting patients with speaking and singing problems.

Ossoff, the Guy M. Maness Professor of Otolaryngology and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, will become assistant vice chancellor for Compliance and Corporate Integrity after James Snell, M.D., retires in December 2008.

During his tenure Ossoff brought Music City and its A-list of singers and entertainers a Voice Center that ranks among the finest in the nation.

Along the way Ossoff and his staff have treated preachers, radio personalities, auctioneers, businessmen and celebrities including Johnny Cash, Larry Gatlin, Minnie Pearl, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris, Jack White, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Ronnie Dunn, Pam Tillis, Wynonna Judd and Gretchen Wilson.

“In 22 years, Dr. Ossoff took the Department of Otolaryngology from a very small department within Vanderbilt and made it into an academic and research powerhouse,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

Joined by Jacobson and Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, Ossoff announced his transition at Monday's department meeting.

In addition to his new position, he 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.

“Bob is one of the leaders who has established the culture of our Medical School and Medical Center that all of us benefit from today,” Gabbe said.

“That’s the culture of valuing education, research, patient care at the highest level and, most importantly, collaboration in each of these areas.”

The department's “founding four” — Ossoff, James Duncavage, M.D., James Netterville, M.D., and David Zealear, Ph.D. — are still active, full-time faculty members in a department with 17 M.D.s, five Ph.D.s, five clinical instructor/fellows, two nurse practitioners, two neurotology resident/fellows and an administrator.

Consistently ranked among the best by U.S. News and World Report, the department is poised to rank as high as 9th in N.I.H. research funding among academic otolaryngology-head and neck surgery training programs this year.

“This announcement does not mean that I am going anywhere or giving up my involvement in the department,” Ossoff said.

“I turned 60 years young in March and am very fortunate to have my health. My children are now young adults and (wife) Lynn and I are learning what it means to be 'empty nesters.'

“I want to have time to spend with Lynn and to cultivate and develop some hobbies to carry me into retirement sometime in the future.”

With the role of compliance growing in the nation's health care system, and VUMC generating revenues of nearly $2 billion annually, Ossoff's new role will be just as important.

“For a number of years Bob led our program in Risk Management and, given that experience and his leadership of a major clinical program, he is extremely well qualified to take on this critically important position in Compliance and Corporate Integrity,” Gabbe said.

“He will certainly benefit from working in transition with Dr. Jim Snell, who has been an exemplary leader in this area.”

Vanderbilt's Compliance program is essential for avoiding pitfalls created by billing and coding complexity, and for maintaining the reputation of the Medical Center.

“Serving as assistant vice chancellor for Compliance and Corporate Integrity is an opportunity for me to help to protect the reputation of Vanderbilt that we have all worked so hard to build,” Ossoff said.