Cochlear implant specialist recruited from Johns Hopkins

August 20, 2002

WORCESTER, Mass.—Daniel J. Lee, MD, an otolaryngologist specializing in cochlear implants and acoustic neuromas, has been recruited to UMass Memorial Medical Center from the department of Otolaryngology /Head and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  He was also appointed assistant professor of surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“We are thrilled to have found in Daniel Lee a high caliber physician skilled in all facets of otolaryngology, and a respected and rising young expert in cochlear implantation,” said William G. Lavelle, MD, professor and chair of otolaryngology.

UMass Memorial began its cochlear implant program in 1998 for both adults and children who develop severe to profound hearing loss not helped by conventional hearing aids.  Unlike a hearing aid, which merely amplifies sound, the cochlear implant acts as a replacement for damaged or non-working parts of the inner ear.  The device has four basic parts: a microphone to pick up sound from the environment; a speech processor to select and arrange sounds picked up by the microphone; a transmitter and receiver/stimulator to receive signals from the speech processor and convert them into electric impulses; and electrodes to collect the impulses from the stimulator and send them to the brain.  “The implant is truly a bionic ear,” Dr. Lee said, “and represents the most successful attempt to connect a prosthetic device to the human brain.”

The cochlear implant program has grown rapidly and its multidisciplinary team provides thorough evaluation and screening, surgery, and extensive rehabilitation services for patients after surgery.  The quality of the rehabilitation program after implant is believed to be the most crucial factor in the success of an implanted patient, who must learn to interpret the electronic impulses produced by the device.   

Lee has spent his entire medical career at Johns Hopkins, receiving his MD in 1995 and serving an internship in general surgery there.  He completed his five-year surgical residency in the department of otolaryngology and head & neck surgery and two years ago became a fellow and instructor in otology, neurotology and skull base surgery. The Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology, ranked number one by US News & World Report this year, has one of the busiest and most well respected cochlear implant programs in the world.

Lee will also have clinical and research appointments at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Harvard Medical School. His research at Johns Hopkins focused on the impact of deafness on mammalian brain development, and Lee plans to expand his research on central auditory brain circuits.

UMass Memorial Health Care is Central Massachusetts’ largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, covering the complete health care continuum with teaching hospitals, affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing medical schools in finisher in the annual US News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, the country, attracting more than $131 million in research funding annually.  A perennial top ten UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service.

Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000