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March 2024 Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Newsletter

A Letter from the Chair

“Physicianeers” Transform Ideas Into Reality

At a meeting of our researchers recently, one of the EnMed students from Houston Methodist’s program with Texas A&M University suggested to me a new needle holder that would help suture inside a patient’s mouth. “Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to do what you need to do if the needle holder was angled this way,” the student asked, showing me a design. The next thing I know, he’s making a prototype on his computer and then 3D printing it out for us to try.
Mas Takashima, MD, FACS
Sylvia and James E. Norton Distinguished New Century Chair Professor and Chair Department of Otolaryngology  – Head and Neck Surgery Houston Methodist Academic Institute
All I could say was, Wow! He’s right. Here I am trying to refine my skills to perfect the motion using an instrument that may not be the perfect instrument for what we’re doing. And, instead of practicing my longtime technique to make the tools I have work best for my patient, I now have a new tool that works best for me and makes the procedure easier on my patient. The more time I spend with these students in the EnMed Program—one of only a handful like it in the country—the more I realize this is a hidden gem that can open so many different doors for us to study diseases in ways we never thought possible. Our ideas can become actual prototypes and sometimes right there on the spot. Involving engineers with today’s medicine makes even longtimers like me think differently because, in addition to the regular pathophysiology of disease questions we get from medical students, we also get questions of ergonomics—how to do things in more efficient ways. EnMed learners are always looking at processes and workflow. The beauty of our partnership is the EnMed students also want to engage with us, the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, because of our vibrant research program with our research fellows and research coordinator. We have unique situations that they want to observe and consider. Founded in 2019 as a collaboration between Texas A&M’s School of Engineering Medicine and top-ranked Houston Methodist, EnMed just graduated its first class of students with both medical doctorate and Master of Engineering degrees. Cleverly called “physicianeers,” these graduates are problem-solving professionals who are trained to take on some of today’s greatest challenges in medicine and research. Anytime we have a research meeting for our department, there are three or four EnMed students present who contribute so much to our research. Their unique training allows us to take an unmet clinical need from idea to implementation through the biodesign process. The $500 million EnMed Tower, located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center at Holcombe Boulevard and Main Street, has a complete machine shop, tissue culture labs, electronic design and fabrication shop, virtual reality and simulation and 3D printing. As for Houston Methodist, we offer our unique Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education (MITIESM) to test out prototypes in our virtual hospital and hands-on clinical training facility. It’s really a perfect reciprocal relationship we have with both institutions benefiting from the other’s state-of-the-art technology, innovation and the draw of excellent students and faculty to our program. Some of the specific programs of interest for the students include advanced interventional technologies like robotics, lasers, genome editing, and artificial intelligence. They may focus on regenerative engineering-medicine with biomaterials, nano materials and tissue engineering. Students also can specialize in imaging and diagnostics, predictive analytics, innovative therapeutics.
EnMed Students Faizaan Khan and Sam Razmi with Dr. Omar Ahmed
In this age of exploding technology and information overload, even in the hopeful world of research and medical advances, it is easy to become jaded. We’ve seen it all; we’ve certainly read it all, and you will be hard pressed to surprise us. Now comes the EnMed program at Texas A&M in partnership with Houston Methodist researchers, and I am both surprised and excited. I’m amazed, truly amazed.
Center for ENT Joins Houston Methodist Specialty Physician Group
The profiles of the ENT specialists and the new group of providers that joined our primary and specialty teams in January and February are below. Please join us in welcoming these new physicians and advanced practice providers.
Ashish Asawa, MD Allergy/Immunology HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Michael C. Byrd, MD Otolaryngology (ENT) HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Richard T. Hung, MD Otolaryngology (ENT) HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Kristin K. Marcum, MD Otolaryngology (ENT) HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Ron Moses, MD Otolaryngology (ENT) HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Samuel Ross Patton, MD Otolaryngology (ENT) HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Eric Powitzky, MD Otolaryngology (ENT) HMH - Southside Place View Profile
Carolyn Bagchi, AuD Audiology HMH - Southside Place
in the news

Department Spotlight

The speech-language pathology team at the Texas Voice Center at Houston Methodist.

Visiting Professor Spotlight

Houston Methodist has offered a dissection course for four years. This year, Troy Woodard, MD, of Cleveland Clinic, was an invited guest.
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Houston Methodist Prepares for Ever-Expanding Dissection Course

Physicians at Houston Methodist are preparing to host the fourth resident-focused city-wide dissection course, which will be attended by otolaryngology residents from The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas-Houston and Houston Methodist.

In-Person Residency Interviews Deemed a Success

Houston Methodist Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery held its first in-person residency interviews recently — having gone through COVID-19 and then quarantine when the residency program was first approved two years ago.
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Feature story

Sam Weber Leaves Legacy of Generosity and Kindness

The colleagues who recently remembered Weber read like a who’s who of Texas Medical Center master physicians, otolaryngologists and heads of the departments of the major institutions.
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