The Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery has a strong tradition of biomedical research in the areas of the special senses and other organ systems of the head and neck. Head and neck cancer is also a focus, particularly  immunotherapy and HPV-related cancers. Basic, clinical, and translational projects in these areas are ongoing, and support for these projects comes from a variety of sources including competitive awards from the NIH and research foundations. 

Clinical research is conducted in all fields of otolaryngology, including facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, hearing and balance disorders, head and neck cancer, laryngology, rhinology and allergy and pediatric otolaryngology.


The Center for Balance Disorders Vestibular Function Laboratory studies mechanisms of vestibular compensation and visual-vestibular interaction important to maintenance of balance and coordination.

The Cochlear Biophysics Laboratory researches the  electro-motility, structure, electrochemical gradients, lipid composition and transmembrane potential of outer hair cells, vital to hearing.

The Andrew Sikora Lab is researching how cancer and cancer therapies interact with the immune system, and translating these insights into novel therapies for patients with head and neck cancer, melanoma, and other cancer types. They are also investigating the biology of viral (HPV-related) and non-viral (tobacco/alcohol-related) head and neck cancers, and exploiting this information to develop biomarkers of cancer risk, prognosis and treatment response. 

The Institute for Voice and Swallowing Laboratory is focusing on a spectrum of basic and applied science projects addressing cutting-edge concepts in laryngology.  We are also engaging in population-based studies and models for improving patient outcomes through comparative effectiveness research.