About the Institute for Voice and Swallowing

The Institute for Voice and Swallowing at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, is a group of interdisciplinary programs and clinical centers that evaluates and treats problems with the voice, swallowing, airway and chronic cough. We offer state-of-the-art tools and concepts to take a holistic approach to the many factors contributing to these problems, and provide cutting-edge advances in medical, surgical and behavioral therapies.

Our faculty consists of otolaryngologists Kenneth W. Altman M.D., Ph.D., institute director, Julina Ongkasuwan, M.D., and Donald T. Donovan, M.D., with specialty training in laryngology, as well as speech language pathologists with expertise in speaking, singing and swallowing therapy. The full spectrum of care is complimented by specialists in the fields of gastroenterology, pulmonology, thoracic surgery, psychiatry, radiology and surgical pathology services.

Our approach is to support each of our clinical specialty areas with a comprehensive research program in laryngology, and we strive for improved outcomes by measuring our results with ongoing quality assurance initiatives.


Our experts form a strong interdisciplinary partnership and bring a philosophy of teamwork to our patients in each of our clinical specialty areas, which include:

Program for Professional Voice. The Program for Professional Voice recognizes the different phases of a career and meets the unique needs of the patient starting with a comprehensive evaluation including laryngeal stroboscopy. We coordinate with Speech Pathology to maximize vocal efficiencies, as well as voice and singing coaches to rehabilitate injured voices. We’ve also helped build a broader community of voice professionals by founding the Houston Area Chapter of the Voice Foundation and have performed outreach to new teachers in Houston. Research on the education and vocal health of classical singers is also being performed.

Program for Interventional Laryngology. The Program for Interventional Laryngology emphasizes minimally invasive methods when surgery is needed, including treatments for vocal paralysis, vocal lesions, and early larynx cancer. One of the most challenging areas is vocal leukoplakia, where the potential for pre-malignancy and the need for a cure is carefully balanced with voice preservation. In partnership with the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, our novel research on leukoplakia is helping to define inflammatory and immune markers that can be used to guide the need for more aggressive surgery.

Speech and Language Pathology

Center for Dysphagia and Swallowing Disorders. The Center for Dysphagia and Swallowing Disorders is a formal collaboration with Gastroenterology and Thoracic Surgery accompanied by state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and interdisciplinary conferences. The center addresses both common and high-risk swallowing disorders. There is also a formalized partnership with Neurology to screen patients with neurodegenerative diseases for dysphagia and to create meaningful interventions.

Program in Dysphagia and the Voice in Movement Disorders

Program for Chronic Cough. The Program for Chronic Cough is a collaboration with Pulmonology, Thoracic Surgery, Gastroenterology and the Lung Institute. Members of our faculty have published more than 15 journal articles contributing to best practice in managing chronic cough and 7 book chapters. Our mastery is in clinical diagnosis, addressing rhinologic contributions while bringing novel treatments to the challenging patient.