Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Leadership Legacy


Bobby R. Alford, M.D., was recruited as the first full-time faculty member of Baylor College of Medicine’s Otolaryngology department in 1962, while he was completing a Special NIH Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. A graduate of Baylor University College of Medicine in 1956, Dr. Alford completed his otolaryngology residency in 1960, and an otology fellowship at The University of Texas Medical Branch in 1961. He officially became the first full-time faculty member at Baylor in August of 1962. The faculty of the department has now grown to include 23 full-time clinical physicians and six research faculty.

For the first five years at Baylor, Dr. Alford’s salary was paid by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, who also provided funds to support the development of research laboratories in the department as well as Dr. Alford’s research program. Over the years, the department has grown and now enjoys a national and international reputation for excellence and leadership in the specialty of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Outstanding research has been done in areas such as the mechanisms of human hearing, balance disorders and the vestibular system, genetics and the syndromes of hearing loss.

Dr. Alford, who stepped down as department chair in 2010, played a significant role in the creation and development of the Neurosensory Center of Houston for The Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, which opened in 1977. The Neurosensory Center was established to promote the educational, research and clinical objectives and needs of the clinical neurosciences.

Since 1962, our department has trained more than 250 residents and fellows. Many have gone on to hold academic positions and 16 former residents, fellows or faculty members have become, or are currently, department chairs. Our educational training also includes graduate biomedical scientists.

Through Dr. Alford, the department has also been associated with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, a consortium of leading biomedical institutions led by BCM. The NSBRI conducts the integrated, critical path, biomedical research necessary to support long-term human presence, development and exploration of space and enhances life on Earth by applying the resulting advances in human knowledge and technology. Several of the department’s faculty members have been actively involved in NSBRI research.

Through the efforts of Dr. Donald T. Donovan, named chair in 2014, and the dedication of our outstanding faculty, residents, fellows, students and staff, the department will continue to build on the tremendous legacy established by Dr. Alford.