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Coming Home

Date: May 14, 2012

Eisele: One of U.S. News'  “Best Doctors”
Eisele: One of U.S. News' “Best Doctors”

It was an offer David Eisele couldn’t refuse.

He had been an award-winning professor in Hopkins’ Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery for 13 years when the University of California at San Francisco came a-wooing in 2001, offering Eisele the job as chairman of its Otolaryngology Department.

Eisele felt it was an opportunity he had to accept—but it hurt to do so.

“One of the saddest days of my life was flying to San Francisco from Baltimore in 2001. I loved being at Johns Hopkins and had a great practice in head and neck surgery, but I had a great leadership opportunity at a peer institution,” Eisele says.  “I never thought I would have the opportunity to return to Johns Hopkins,” Eisele adds. But then a series of events opened the way for him to do just that and return in March as the new director of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery here.

In 2009, Hopkins President Ronald Daniels tapped Oto’s then director, Lloyd Minor, to become the university’s provost. John Niparko, chief of the Division of Otology, Audiology, Neurotology, and Skull Base Surgery, agreed to step in as acting director, performing what Dean/CEO Edward Miller calls a “magnificent job” for two years as the interim leader of the department—long ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the best in the nation.

Hopkins then did the wooing to get Eisele to return, which he was only too happy to do.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth and honors graduate of Cornell’s Medical College, Eisele joined Hopkins’ faculty in 1988. He had been recruited by then director of Otolaryngology Michael Johns. “Dr. Johns was developing a top program at Hopkins and I wanted to be part of it. Since medical school I had wanted to be a head and neck surgeon. It was a great place to begin a career in that specialty.”

Eisele eventually held appointments not only in otolaryngology–head and neck surgery but in oncology and anesthesiology and critical care medicine.

Now 55, Eisele specializes in treating malignant and benign tumors of the head and neck, with special interest in the salivary gland and thyroid. His research interests include head and neck cancer, upper airway physiology, and dysphagia, or swallowing difficulties. At UCSF, he not only headed the Otolaryngology Department but was director of its Division of Head and Neck Surgery and its Head and Neck Cancer Program. He’s been named one of the “best doctors” in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

At Hopkins, he aims to lead advances in research that will translate to clinical care, and he is excited about ”great growth opportunities at Hopkins Bayview, the new D.C.-area hospitals, All Children’s Hospital in Florida, and beyond,” and about plans to recruit new faculty in basic science and outcomes research. He also anticipates expanding both the residency program and continuing medical education offerings.

On a personal note, Eisele hopes to get back to sailing the Chesapeake Bay. “I used to have a sailboat in Annapolis,” he says. “I hope I can again and teach my daughters to sail.”  NAG

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