University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers Mursalin Anis, M.D. Ph.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology, laryngology, and voice disorders, and Chrisanda Sanchez, Au.D., assistant professor of audiology and interim director of the Children’s Hearing Program, were each awarded $40,000 by the Stanley J. Glaser Foundation for their research efforts.
Predicting patients at risk for airway stenosis
Dr. Anis was awarded the competitive grant for his study on airway narrowing, or stenosis, a challenging condition to treat. Stenosis occurs most often in the months after the breathing tube is removed from patients who required prolonged intubation as a life-saving medical treatment.
Issues can arise when airway stenosis is diagnosed late, when nearly 75% of the airway is blocked by scar tissue and patients have significant breathing difficulty. Though patients may be transported to an emergency room during the blockage, treatment options may be limited based on the expertise of the surgeons and availability of necessary instruments.
“This award will be used to find out if we can predict which patients will develop airway stenosis after intubation so they can be followed closely and offered less invasive treatments,” Dr. Anis said. “Part of our next steps will be to gather pilot data so we can apply for larger funding mechanisms.”
Dr. Anis will conduct the research with his Miller School mentors Xue Liu, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, and Susan Blanton, Ph.D., professor and executive director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics. He will collaborate with David Rosow, M.D., associate professor of clinical otolaryngology, and Ahmed Soliman, M.D., a laryngologist at Temple University.
Taking cochlear implant care virtual
As a response to the shift to telehealth due to COVID-19, Dr. Sanchez, the other award recipient, plans to take cochlear implant programming to the next step in technological innovation. Cochlear implants still rely largely on in-person appointments for programming, with remote options not being reimbursed or even recognized by insurance plans.
“The idea for this project stemmed from brainstorming solutions on how to improve overall access to cochlear implant care for our patients and families during this time,” Dr. Sanchez said. “Our main goal is to assess feasibility and overall preference for this delivery model. Being provided this grant funding will spearhead this initiative that could prove to change the landscape of the profession and lobby for recognition and reimbursement at the national level.”
With a focus on pediatric hearing loss, Dr. Sanchez’s goal for the project will be to work in collaboration with the Children’s Hearing Program at the University of Miami Ear Institute to provide children with the necessary equipment to access a variety of multi-disciplinary services, including educational support, speech therapy, psychology, and social work, from home.
In addition to conducting research into pediatric hearing loss, Dr. Sanchez will use the grant to investigate the impact of health disparities on hearing-related health care. She plans to work with Spanish-speaking families to address the impact of language barriers on overall quality of care in response to the increasing number of Spanish-speaking individuals in Miami.
“I am thankful for the guidance, insight, and support I receive from my research mentor, Dr. Ivette Cejas,” Dr. Sanchez said. “She has served as the catalyst in kickstarting my research endeavors. In addition, this grant would have not been achieved without the support and collaboration from my colleagues Dr. Jennifer Coto and Dr. Meredith Holcomb. I am also thankful for the direct mentorship I receive from Dr. Hillary Snapp, our division chief, and the endless support from the Department of Otolaryngology. It really does take a village.”
About the Glaser Awards: The annual Stanley J. Glaser Foundation Awards reward promising faculty researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with financial support. The benefactor, Stanley J. Glaser, was a visionary philanthropist in South Florida and longtime supporter of the University of Miami.