A Scholarly Calling
Conduct a Google search on superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCD) and the first result that pops up—a Wikipedia entry describing the condition—references the man who discovered it: Lloyd Minor.
While Minor is revered by his patients and admired by those he teaches, the work with which the medical community most commonly associates him is his identification of SCD and his pioneering work in treating Meniere’s disease, a condition that can affect hearing and balance and cause vertigo. But whether they appreciated his bedside manner or his research accomplishments, those who’ve been treated by or worked with Minor regard his recent appointment as provost of The Johns Hopkins University as both a well-deserved promotion and a tribute to the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery that he served for so many years.
“Hopkins is very fortunate that Dr. Minor accepted this position,” says David Coriat, who over the years came to count his physician as a friend and made multiple gifts to support his work. “It’s a loss for the department, though. He was extremely well-liked.”
Minor’s colleagues speak of a man who was generous to a fault, even ceding the coveted spot of first or senior author on research papers to fellows. “You hear horror stories of mentors who claim their residents’ and fellows’ ideas as their own,” says John Carey, who’s worked with Minor as both a fellow and colleague. “Lloyd always leaned to making me the first author. He was so productive that he could afford to be generous. It was never even an issue.”
Minor earned his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Brown University in 1979 and 1982. He completed his surgical residency at Duke University Medical Center, followed by a four-year postdoctoral research fellowship in vestibular physiology and then a residency in otolaryngology–head and neck surgery at the University of Chicago Hospital. In 1993, after a clinical fellowship at The Otology Group and the EAR Foundation in Nashville, Tenn., Minor came to Hopkins, where he began studying a set of seemingly unexplainable vestibular symptoms. By 1996, he’d identified the cause—tiny holes in the inner ear cavities—and in 1998, his findings were published in the Archives of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.
His discovery of SCD was a feat many physicians only dream of. But Minor also invented the cure—an operation that repairs the dizziness, fatigue, sound sensitivity and autophony, a condition that causes internal physical noises, such as heartbeats, eye movements and chewing, to be painfully audible to the sufferer.
“Reports of new disorders don’t come along very often,” says Charley Della Santina, a colleague who, like Minor, specializes in vestibular conditions and research. “It’s especially rare for the first paper describing a new syndrome to also include the science that explains what’s causing it, plus an operation that fixes it completely.”
In his new post as chief academic officer, Minor now promotes excellence in all Hopkins University’s schools and divisions. It’s an undertaking he’s well-suited to. “Lloyd Minor is an exceptional scholar, clinician and scientist with an outstanding record in academic leadership,” says University President Ronald Daniels. “His passion is surpassed only by his ability to build consensus and implement ambitious, strategic priorities that are characterized by an uncompromising commitment to academic excellence.”