About the Program

The Laryngology Fellowship is a one-year program with the UAB Voice Center under the UAB Department of Otolaryngology. The fellowship program was launched by Dr. Blake Simpson in 2020 after he ran a successful fellowship program at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio from 2008-2019.

The program provides the Fellow with comprehensive exposure to open laryngeal framework surgery including medialization laryngoplasty, and arytenoid adduction and microlaryngeal surgery. There is a strong emphasis on office-based procedures, including vocal fold injection augmentation, per-oral and EMG-guided Botox, and pulsed-KTP laser treatment of laryngeal lesions. A strong experience in endoscopic and open airway surgery is also provided. Cricopharyngeal surgery, Zenker's, dilation, CP myotomy is also part of the educational experience. The referral base at UAB includes the entire state of Alabama, eastern Georgia, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle – a catchment area population of roughly 15 million.

The co-directors of the UAB Voice Center, Dr. C. Blake Simpson and Dr. Edie Hapner have developed successful mentorship programs for residents and fellows at the University of Texas Voice Center (1995-2019), Emory Voice Center (2003-2015), and University of Southern California Voice Center (2016-2019). Both have a strong commitment to education and lifetime mentorship.

The Fellow will work closely with our Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) team in a collaborative role to augment their educational experience. The team is led by Dr. Edie Hapner and includes four other speech pathologists with expertise in dysphagia, voice, airway (PVFMD) as well as singing voice therapy. All new patients are seen with the speech pathologist in an interdisciplinary model. This collaborative approach strengthens the Fellow’s experience. The SLP team is particularly valuable in providing additional training in swallowing evaluation and treatment, including FEES (functional endoscopic evaluation of swallowing), and modified barium swallow exams. 

Additional faculty in the Voice Center are Dr. Hari Jeyarajan and Dr. Kirk Withrow. Dr. Hari Jeyarajan is a head and neck/skull base surgeon with an interest in endoscopic and open airway reconstruction. Dr. Jeyarajan spent time observing internationally-renowned airway surgeon Guri Sandhu at the London Clinic and brings an innovative approach to comprehensive management of complicated airway stenosis. Dr. Kirk Withrow is a comprehensive otolaryngologist with multiple niche interests in ENT, including cricopharyngeal and Zenker’s diverticulum surgery. Dr. Withrow has one of the largest Zenker’s practices in the region and uses both endoscopic and open approaches. The Fellow has multiple opportunities to participate in Drs. Jeyarajan’s and Withrow’s cases to learn an additional skill set for airway and dysphagia surgery.

A dedicated laryngology PA, Amalee Smith, joined the team in early 2021. Amalee worked in the laryngology division at UAB from 2009 to 2016 and we are thrilled she has returned to round out our team at the UAB Voice Center!

Collaborators also include Dr. Jim Callaway, Gastroenterologist with a dedicated interest in esophageal disease and reflux, as well as a strong team of Interventional Pulmonologists.

The Fellow’s clinic is also multidisciplinary and includes collaboration with a member of our SLP team so that the care mirrors that of our UAB Voice Center clinic.

The caseload that comes from the Fellow’s own clinic is almost exclusively laryngology and is a good way to experience the process of developing a voice practice, before beginning an academic or private practice career. The residents will be very involved in the care of these patients, and this is an excellent way to prepare the Fellow for an academic career.

In addition, the Fellow runs an inpatient bedside injection augmentation service with the consult residents at UAB. The clinical load of vocal fold paralysis at UAB is very high, so there is extensive experience in office-based injection augmentation, medialization laryngoplasty, and arytenoid adduction.

Medical Campus

The UAB Campus occupies 100 square city blocks, and the UAB Medical System is the largest employer in Alabama. The fellowship is limited to three locations: The Kirklin Clinic, UAB Main OR, and UAB Highlands Hospital. In addition, a centrally located academic office is on the 11th floor of the Faculty Office Tower (FOT). The parking deck and FOT occupy the same footprint (i.e parking deck is the first six floors and floors 7-12 are FOT). The clinic and the main hospital are accessible from FOT through a second-floor walkway and are three-minute walks from the academic offices. Our facility for minor OR cases, UAB Highlands, is a six-minute drive from the main campus. The academic offices were opened at FOT in 2019 and overlook downtown Birmingham from the 11th floor. Our voice center clinic, located in the Kirklin Clinic, has been recently renovated and includes five stroboscopy towers, three voice therapy rooms, acoustic/aerodynamic testing, EMG, High-Resolution Pharyngeal Manometry, and a pulsed-KTP laser. The equipment is state-of-the-art, all high-definition, and is updated regularly to maintain high-quality imaging.

Fellowship Salary/Call Schedule

Fellowship salary is at the PGY 6 level for the UAB system. The Fellow takes call as faculty, which is a week at a time and generally every 2.5 to 3 months. No pediatric call is taken, as there is a separate call group for this.

Fellowship Clinical Schedule 

Monday UAB Main OR Airway and framework surgery primarily 
Tuesday Clinic New and follow up patients
Wednesday AM Clinic New and follow up patients
Wednesday PM Clinic Airway clinic
Thursday Alternating Procedure clinic (injections,botox,KTP)
Callahan Outpatient Surgery (microlaryngoscopies primarily)
Friday Alternating Fellow Private Clinic
Fellow Operating Room
Operating Room with Dr. Jeyarajan: complex airway reconstruction

There are additional faculty in the department with expertise in laryngologic surgery and will provide training for the fellow with open/endoscopic Zenker's surgery and open airway reconstruction. The Fellow will work with these faculty when opportunities arise. The fellow’s operative cases are prioritized over duties in Dr. Simpson’s clinic when these situations occur.

Research

The Department of Otolaryngology at UAB has excellent resources for the support for clinical trials, statistics/data analysis, and generous funding for research studies. Drs. Simpson and Hapner are extensively published in the literature with over 120 combined peer-reviewed articles and textbooks. The Fellow is expected to present research at the Fall Voice and COSM conferences. The research team has IRB approval for both prospective studies and observational cohort studies that are currently underway.

Education

Dr. Simpson’s book, “Operative Techniques in Laryngology,” is used an initial guide for the fellow for learning operative laryngology. A second edition of the book with multiple updated and new illustrated chapters will soon be published. The Fellow has full access to the new chapters to prepare for operative cases.

Additional training includes a laryngeal dissection station in the temporal bone lab to practice microflap and endolaryngeal suturing techniques.

Regular meetings include a monthly “Voice Rounds” with the residents, bi-monthly “Complex Airway” with the Interventional Pulmonary and Cardiothoracic teams and “Complicated Dysphagia” with the SLPs and Dr. Callaway from the GI department. Lastly, “Journal Club” rounds out the educational experience.

Fellowship History

Dr. Simpson started a laryngology fellowship program in San Antonio in 2008 and has trained nine fellows. The program has matched the last eight years. We have graduated seven fellows that have gone into academic practice around the country. We are proud of our graduates and have continued to mentor them through their careers. Lifetime mentorship has always been a key part of this fellowship and will continue in the coming years.

Former Fellows

Fellow Year Current Position
Michael King 2008 Private Practice, Colorado
Laura Matrka 2010 Ohio State University
Jeanne Hatcher 2014 Emory University
Laura Dominguez 2015 Cleveland Clinic, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Kathleen Tibbetts 2016 UT Southwestern, Dallas
Mike Loochtan 2017 Private Practice, Columbus, OH
Alissa Collins 2018 Duke University
Patrick McGarey 2019 University of Virginia
Randy Holdgraf 2020 Scott & White University, Temple, TX

Current and Future Fellows

2020-2021

Hoffman UAB Laryngology FellowMatt Hoffman, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin

2021-2022

Shaha UAB Laryngology FellowManish Shaha, M.D.
LSU-Shreveport

How to Apply

All interested applicants must submit a letter of intent, a CV, along with three letters of recommendation from the faculty in their residency program. 

Contact Information

Blake Simpson, M.D.

Simpson 150Program Director
Professor
Co-Director, UAB Voice Center
blakesimpson@uabmc.edu

Administrative Support:
Alice Rhodes
ahrhodes@uabmc.edu
P: 205-801-7801 (option 2) 
F: 205-801-7802

Mailing Address:
FOT 1155
1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294-3412

Physical Address:
1155 Faculty Office Tower
510 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35233