By Alfred A. Simental ’95, Chair, Department of Otolaryngology, LLUSM
Luis’ mother gave him a kiss as he bravely walked into the operating room at Hospital Adventista Valle de Angeles, a small mission hospital in central Honduras. Luis would be the first laryngotracheal reconstruction done in Honduras, and after living with a tracheostomy for his entire six-year life, he would speak and breathe normally for the first time. Every spring for the past eight years, Christopher A. Church ’96, with local support from Jennifer and Joel R. Mundall ’06, has been leading a team to perform hundreds of life-changing operations like Luis’ and to teach the local otolaryngology residents in Tegucigalpa.
Over the past decade, our department has grown to eight head and neck oncologic surgeons (George D. Chonkich ’60, Pedro de Andrade Filho, MD, Jared C. Inman ’04, Stephanie Kidd, MD, Steve C. Lee ’03, Nathaniel Peterson, MD, Alfred A. Simental ’95, and Paul Walker, MD), four neuro-otologists (Baishakhi Choudhury, MD, Helen Xu, MD, Charles E. Stewart III ’70, and Timothy Jung, PhD, ’74), three rhinologists (Nadia Chan, MD, Christopher A. Church ’96, and Kristin Seiberling, MD), two laryngologists (Brianna Crawley, MD, and Priya Krishna, MD), two pediatric otolaryngologists (TJ O-Lee, MD, and Vikrum Thimmappa, MD), two facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons (Benjamin D. Bradford ’12 and Jennifer Fuller, MD), five audiologists, two physician assistants, four nurse practitioners, and two speech pathologists. This has allowed us to serve our patients and teach our residents and students at multiple clinical sites, including Loma Linda University (LLU) Medical Center, Loma Linda Veterans Health System, Riverside University Hospital (formerly Riverside County Regional Medical Center), and the Social Action Community Health System (SACHS). Most recently, we finished a brand new pediatric otolaryngology clinic and will soon double our pediatric otolaryngology complement to four faculty members.
The third-year students who rotate with us during their surgical clerkship are exposed to the full range of fellowship-trained subspecialists both in clinic and in the operating room. We are also privileged to host sub-internships for fourth-year students both from LLU and external medical schools, which allows for students considering otolaryngology as a career. While otolaryngology remains one of the most competitive specialties, all of our students have successfully matched in the past several years.
For the last 17 years, our department has sponsored the Western Residents’ Advanced Sinus course and the LLU Laryngeal Conservation Surgery course at the Centennial Complex as part of our commitment to education. These courses offer not only didactic lectures taught jointly by our faculty and recognized experts from around the world but also hands-on fresh cadaver dissection training in supracricoid laryngectomy and image-guided sinus surgery. Each year our residents and students attend these courses along with over 30 residents from other programs throughout the western United States. These courses serve to foster collaborative education programs with neighboring training programs, such as UCI, UCLA, and USC, who now include our residents in their educational outreach programs as well. In addition, smaller annual hands-on courses in ultrasound imaging, rhinoplasty, ear surgery, and airway management are given to our residents and students.
In addition to a wide range of ongoing patient-oriented research by our clinical faculty, our department supports several basic science laboratories. We have a world-renowned auditory research group based out of the VA hospital that performs cutting edge work in psychoacoustics, tinnitus, cochlear hydrodynamics, and otoacoustic emissions. On the oncology side, we have labs working on cancer stem cell biology and biomarkers in both thyroid and squamous cell carcinoma. Last year our academic output included 22 articles, 10 book chapters, 59 abstracts, and 18 oral presentations at national meetings.
We are thankful for the opportunities we have had to teach our students and residents and look forward to continuing our service to the school and its mission to educate mission-focused physicians.
Dr. Simental has been professor and chair of the department of otolaryngology for the past 12 years, while maintaining a busy clinical and research practice in endocrine surgery averaging over 350 thyroid/parathyroid surgeries a year.
OTOLARYNGOLOGY FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS:
Jared C. Inman ’04
Dr. Jared Inman was born at Florida Hospital where his father, Charles C. Inman ’74, worked as a family practitioner (Dr. Inman’s brother, Evan C. Inman ’07, is also a family practitioner). Graduating from Southern Adventist University with a BA in religious studies and a BA in biology, he moved to Loma Linda in 2000 for medical school followed by residency. In 2011, after two fellowships focusing on advanced head and neck oncologic surgery and facial reconstructive surgery (Texas and Mayo Clinic), Dr. Inman returned to Loma Linda to help advance multidisciplinary oncologic and reconstructive surgery. His early interests were in minimally invasive transoral laser surgery, microvascular reconstructive surgery, and reconstructive rhinoplasty.
Dr. Inman usually operates four days per week and also provides services at our Murrieta campus, SAC Health System, and Riverside University Hospital. He became the fellowship director for Head & Neck Surgery/Microvascular Reconstruction in 2014.
Currently, he is the otolaryngology resident research director and dedicates time daily to research interests. Dr. Inman mentors Macpherson Society medical student summer research scholars yearly and helped students found a student-run medical journal, LLU Student Journal, which can be accessed at https://scholarsrepository.llu.edu/llu-student-journal. The journal has had over 1,000 downloads this year and holds quarterly meetings to teach the science and art of medical publication to LLU students. Dr. Inman’s residents describe him as “easily approachable” and “willing to allow us to operate.”
Dr. Inman met his wife, an assistant district attorney, working in clinic at Loma Linda where she deposed him for a court case! They live in Riverside with their 5-year-old daughter, Kyrie, and 2-year-old son, Gio. Family is their greatest blessing.
Loma Linda’s dedication to further the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus Christ is why Dr. Inman practices at Loma Linda, and he prays for continued grace on his profession and the University.
Kristin Seiberling, MD
As a native of Southern California, Dr. Kristin Seiberling was excited to come back to her roots and join the Loma Linda University Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery back in 2009 after being away for over 10 years. Dr. Seiberling lived in Chicago for nine years where she completed both her medical school and otolaryngology residency at Northwestern University. After residency she traveled around the world for three months, exploring, hiking, and learning about various cultures and eventually ended up in South Australia where she completed a yearlong fellowship in rhinology and skull base surgery. When she joined the Loma Linda ENT department, she partnered up with neurosurgery to develop and expand the skull base center where complex surgeries of the anterior, middle, and posterior fossa could be completed endonasally.
As a rhinology trained specialist, Dr. Seiberling became interested in allergy, which is intimately related to sinonasal disease. She became a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngologic Allergy (AAOA) in 2014 and started encompassing allergy into her practice. Dr. Seiberling has grown the allergy practice, which not only medically treats allergy patients but offers both allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops). She is currently a board member for the AAOA and is on various committees, keeping up to date with the most recent trends in allergy management. She is in charge of teaching the residents allergy and exposing them to the practical matters of allergy skin testing and immunotherapy.
Despite a busy clinical practice, Dr. Seiberling is able to spend quality time with her three girls. She enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, and skiing.