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Memorium for Michael Holliday, M.D.

image of Michael Holiday

June 2, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We are sorry to share that Michael J. Holliday, M.D., a distinguished retired faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery died on May 17, 2021, at the age of 78 from complications of dementia. Dr. Holliday embraced the spirit of collaboration and helped to leverage the expertise of both Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Neurosurgery to build a highly regarded program in skull base surgery at Johns Hopkins. His efforts were key to establishing our institution as a world leader in clinical care and training in skull base surgery.

Michael Holliday was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He completed both undergraduate and medical school training at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After completing his internship at the Baltimore City Hospitals, he enrolled in the US Army Air Corps and served as a flight surgeon at the rank of Captain in the Vietnam War. He returned to Baltimore to begin his training in otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins. During that time, he also met his future wife, Dr. Maureen Veling, at Baltimore City Hospital, where she was also doing her medical training.

After completing his residency, Dr. Holliday joined the faculty in the Department of Otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins in 1975. In 1979 he took a formative fellowship in the nascent field of neuro-otologic and skull base surgery in Zurich with Professor Ugo Fisch. That experience inspired what would become his professional pursuit of excellence in novel approaches to surgery of the skull base. His publications documented his broad facility with approaches to both the lateral and anterior skull base: infratemporal fossa approaches and their modifications, trans-palatal approaches, trans-nasal as well as trans-temporal sphenoidal approaches, translabyrinthine and posterior fossa approaches, facial degloving procedures, etc. At the height of his career, Dr. Holliday was a much sought-after expert for difficult skull base tumors. Working in tandem with our Johns Hopkins neurosurgical colleagues, Dr. Holliday was a true innovator in pushing the boundaries of surgery in this highly complex anatomic region.He had created one of the highest volume surgical practices for the management of acoustic neuromas and pituitary tumors in the U.S. On a national level, as one of the very few dedicated skull base surgeons, Dr. Holliday was highly influential in the formation of the North American Skull Base Society. Moreover, his distinctive and iconoclastic teaching style inspired almost every resident he worked with and a great number of current leaders in the field. The tremendous recent progress in expanded endoscopic approaches to the skull base reflect the kind of inquisitive and fearless approach that he modeled.

Those of us fortunate enough to train with him also helped care for his many patients after retirement.His patients continuously praise his compassion, dedication to their care, and detailed knowledge about not only their medical conditions but their lives, interests and hobbies.He was a true role model of compassionate patient care and clinical excellence.

The Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery will fondly remember the myriad contributions of Dr. Michael Holliday, in whose honor an annual named Lectureship was established in 2014, after he retired. We are grateful for Dr. Holliday’s legacy of making otology, neurotology and skull base surgery at Johns Hopkins one of the finest programs in the field.

Finally, our sincere condolences go to his wife of 46 years, Dr. Maureen Holliday, and their children, Michael Patrick Holliday, Carolyn Mary Holliday, John Michael Holliday, and Patrick Michael Holliday.

The Baltimore Sun obituary for Dr. Holliday can be found here.

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