University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Dean, E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that Rodney J. Taylor, MD, MPH, Professor and Interim Chair in the UMSOM Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (HNS), a distinguished physician-scientist and head and neck surgeon, will become the next Chair of the Department, effective September 1, 2019. In addition, he will also serve as the Chief of Otorhinolaryngology for the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).
A Harvard College and Harvard Medical School graduate, Dr. Taylor arrived at UMSOM in 2001 on a Welcome Fellowship, a highly competitive program. Dr. Taylor, a prominent clinician and researcher who has received several national awards, was initially appointed as an Assistant Professor in 2001, and rose quickly to the rank of Associate Professor in 2008, and to Professor in 2019.
Dr. Taylor has been consistently named a Top Doctor by US News and World Report, Baltimore Magazine, and Black Enterprise magazine. In 2019, he received the Student National Medical Association Faculty of the Year Award, recognizing him as “an inspirational mentor to our members as well as countless medical students; an exemplary physician and patient advocate, and a fervent community activist.”
He has been involved in the leadership of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, initially as Associate Chair of Research, and served as Chief of Otorhinolaryngology at the VA Medical Center, Baltimore, before being named Interim Chair in October 2018 following the departure of Scott Strome, MD, FACS, who became Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. The 2019-20 US News & World Report’s Best Hospitals Ranking recently assigned the UMSOM with the highest ranking as the top ENT program in the State of Maryland and the 10th highest nationally.
“Dr. Taylor is a highly accomplished scholar and a superb head and neck cancer surgeon, who has already brought outstanding leadership to the Department,” said Dean Reece, who is also the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “I have no doubt that he will move the Department forward with great momentum and at a relentless pace and upward trajectory to become one of the leading Departments of Otorhinolaryngology in the nation.”
Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO, University of Maryland Medical Center, added: “Dr. Taylor is a gifted head and neck surgeon and visionary clinical leader who inspires his colleagues with his dedication, compassion, and intelligence. We are fortunate to have him take the reins of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, which has already achieved national prominence, and feel confident that he will lead it to even greater heights.”
Dr. Taylor works collaboratively with other colleagues to oversee more than 20 full-time personnel in a laboratory with multiple grants, including 6 NIH/federal grants. His laboratory has focused on factors impacting immunocytotoxicity and immune tolerance using cancer cell lines and mouse tumor models. Based upon findings from his laboratory, he initiated and completed a multi-institutional clinical trial evaluating the impact of Natural Killer cells receptor polymorphisms on antibody-based therapy for HNC.
This work has provided insight into which patients best benefit from antibody-based therapy for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (SCCHN). In his previous research collaborations, he successfully established mouse models to study head and neck cancer cell immortality mechanisms and behavior using xenografts. He has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, regularly teaches continuing medical education courses, and speaks nationally and internationally at prominent scientific meetings on state-of-the-art treatments for head and neck cancers.
Dr. Taylor currently collaborates with Michal Zalzman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-HNS, on two NIH grants totaling nearly $1.7 million. One involves developing a novel cell therapy approach to augment regeneration in neurodegenerative disease, and the second is to enhance the potency of aged stem cells for tissue reconstruction. In 2019, the Department received more than $4 million in NIH grants to investigate inner ear function and development, genes involved in hearing loss, and autosomal recessive neurological disorders.
In 2007, the Weitzman Family Endowment Fund was created in his honor with a gift to the Department of $400,000. He also received substantial philanthropic gifts from the Orokawa Foundation in appreciation of his clinical care that was designated for head and neck cancer basic science research and healthcare disparity research.
“I am so pleased to be given this new opportunity to permanently take the helm of a Department that is second to none in the nation in terms of our research, comprehensive clinical services, and the care we provide to our patients,” said Dr. Taylor. “We have a great team, and I am looking forward to advancing our clinical and research programs, particularly in gaining new insights on genes involved in hearing loss and innovative ways to treat head and neck cancers.”
Dr. Taylor graduated cum laude from Harvard College in 1991 where he was Senior Class President, varsity football player, and the recipient of the Francis Burr Award for character, leadership, and athletic ability. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1995, receiving his MD degree while also serving as an academic advisor and counselor for Harvard College pre-med students.
Following medical school, Dr. Taylor spent 6 years at the University of Michigan completing his residency in Otorhinolaryngology and a fellowship focusing on novel techniques in head and neck cancer surgery. In addition, he studied Quality of Life instruments among head and neck cancer patients. Dr. Taylor also received his Master’s Degree (MPH) from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 1999.
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $550 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu.