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Renowned ear surgeon joins Keck School of Medicine

John Niparko was selected from a pool of more than 50 highly qualified candidates.

John Niparko has been named professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, effective on Feb. 1.

An internationally renowned otoneurologic surgeon and researcher, Niparko comes to USC from Johns Hopkins University, where he is professor and director of the Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, as well as medical director of the Division of Audiology.

From 2009 to 2012, he served as interim director of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins, which since 1998 has been ranked No. 1 in ear, nose and throat care in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Niparko was selected from a group of more than 50 highly qualified candidates after a 17-month national search. He succeeds Dale Rice, who is stepping down from the position of department chairman after 30 years of service.

“Dr. Niparko is a preeminent physician-scientist on the cutting edge of disorders of the ear, and we are excited to have him lead our faculty, residents and students into the next generation of health care,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, dean of the Keck School. “I would also like to thank Dr. Rice for his many contributions to the excellence of the Keck School of Medicine.”

Niparko’s immediate goals include expanding the department’s clinical programming, initiating new strategies for training residents and medical students and developing collaborative, entrepreneurial relationships that will bolster the research enterprise.

“I am honored to have been selected as the director of the Department of Otolaryngology at USC,” Niparko said. “I am fortunate to join a team that will continue to define USC and Los Angeles as powerful sites for quality care and innovation. The department is poised to contribute to the national health care agenda as it relates to our specialty, and this position offered a very unique set of circumstances at a premier institution.”

Niparko added that USC was uniquely positioned to address the challenges that the economic downturn has created in terms of patient care, training and research.

“At USC, I met energetic and creative individuals who offered realistic views of both the opportunities and the challenges faced by the medical school and hospital,” he said. “I was struck by the feeling that, in coming to USC, I would be surrounded by colleagues who had considered the challenges ahead and who would encourage novel and collaborative ways for us to maintain excellence under health care reform.”

Specializing in disorders of the ear and skull base, Niparko is a leading authority on implantable devices that improve hearing for the profoundly deaf and severely hard of hearing.

Under Niparko’s leadership, the cochlear implant program at Johns Hopkins’ The Listening Center has garnered an international reputation for its clinical excellence in cochlear implantation, including cochlear implant surgery and postoperative training and rehabilitation, and for its groundbreaking research and participation in clinical trials of new generations of implantable devices.

“We are thrilled with the appointment of John Niparko and believe that he will lead the department to new heights of excellence,” said Thomas Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO for USC Health.

Niparko is known for clinical trial research into the developmental consequences of surgical intervention in deafness. He is currently leading a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study that examines the effects of cochlear implantation on language, behavioral and societal outcomes in children. The study involves 62 investigators from six university-based clinical sites and two data coordination centers.

“We are prepared to make a major investment in expanding our institution’s role in the treatment of patients with hearing loss and disorders of the head and neck,” said Scott Evans, CEO of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. “Dr. Niparko’s expertise will complement our current outstanding programs in neurosurgery and head and neck oncology.”

Niparko has received numerous awards, including the Deafness Research Foundation’s Annual Hearing Research Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

He is a past president of the American Otological Society — the most prestigious specialty society in the field — and currently serves on the council of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the NIH. He is on the boards of the River School in Washington, D.C., an inclusive educational model for children with hearing loss, and The Hearing and Speech Agency of Baltimore, which administers services for hearing impaired and autistic children in Baltimore County.

At the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health, Niparko also serves as an associate faculty member at The Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Niparko was associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan Hospitals, and chief of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. He has been with Johns Hopkins since 1991, when he was appointed associate professor. In 2001, he became the first recipient of the George T. Nager Professorship in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Niparko received his bachelor’s degree and medical degree with distinction from the University of Michigan, where he also completed his residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and a fellowship in otology, neurotology and skull base surgery. He is an author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed papers or abstracts and 45 review articles, and four books. He has served as editor in chief of the Journal of Otology & Neurotology since 2006.

Renowned ear surgeon joins Keck School of Medicine

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