Dr. Robert Jahrsdoerfer, the first chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and professor emeritus at UTHealth Medical School, passed away at his home in Virginia on March 17, 2014. Dr. Jahrsdoerfer joined the medical school in 1982 as a full professor and rose to the position of chair.
He received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1961. After completing an otolaryngology residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, he returned to the University of Virginia, becoming full professor in 1979. After serving UTHealth Medical School for 13 years, he returned to the University of Virginia in 1995 to pursue his passion for the diagnosis and treatment of children with congenital ear disease. He retired in 2009.
Dr. Jahrsdoerfer was a member of numerous prestigious medical societies, including the Society of University Otolaryngologists, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Triological Society (past president in 2004), American Neurotology Society (past president in 1988-89), American Otological Society (past president in 1994-95) and the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Jahrsdoerfer pioneered surgery to open the ear canal and restore the natural sound-conducting mechanism of the canal and middle ear, helping hundreds of children and adults to hear. The surgical technique he developed remains the standard of care for children with congenital aural atresia who are candidates for canaloplasty surgery.
Dr Jahrsdoerfer received many honors and awards throughout his career. He was recognized with the Triological Society’s Mosher Award in 1978 for his work on congenital middle ear malformations, was selected as one of “The Best Medical Specialists in the United States” by Town and Country in 1984 and 1989, and was included in the 1991, 1992 and 1993 editions of Best Doctors in America®. He received the prestigious Award of Merit from the American Otological Society, its highest award. He served on the editorial boards of several journals, including Head and Neck Surgery, Laryngoscope, Anales de Otorrinolaringologia Mexicana and American Journal of Otology; published more than 120 articles; and was the co-author of a textbook entitled Head and Neck Surgery.