Presidential Citations recognize individuals personally selected by the President who have left a personal imprint on the life and/or career of the president, and/or have made a lasting impression through their outstanding contributions and dedication to the Academy, Foundation, or greater house of medicine. Citation awardees are recognized during the Annual Meeting Opening Ceremony. AAO-HNS/F 2018 – 2019 President Albert L. Merati, MD, selected these individuals for their outstanding contributions, and describes their merits in his own words.
Mustafa Gerek, MD
Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, Gülhane Military Medical Academy, Ankara, Turkey
Dr. Gerek is, for all practical purposes, the brother I never had. A native of Adana, Dr. Gerek literally rose through the ranks of military medicine (he is a Brigadier General in the Turkish Air Force) to lead the Gülhane Military Medical Academy Otolaryngology Department, one of the flagship institutions in Turkish Medicine. He now also serves as the Vice President of the University of the Health Sciences there. As many of you know, the tradition in otolaryngology in Turkey is strong and growing stronger with leaders like Dr. Gerek and many others representing our AAO-HNSF's guest countries for the 2019 Annual Meeting.
Mustafa and I met in 1997 in Nashville, TN, when we were fellows together at the world-famous Vanderbilt Voice Center. Given my heritage (my parents immigrated to the U.S. from the northernmost part of Iran where Azeri, a dialect of Turkish, is the native language), we bonded immediately. Who knew we would have this remarkable journey together?
To me, Dr. Gerek embodies the builder—a visionary who leads by example with high standards and force of personality. Mustafa and his wife, Şehnaz, a judge on one of the country's highest courts, are a remarkable team (along with their two awesome children). We look forward to the next generation of international connections as our professional and personal reach gets broader and our world gets smaller.
Michael M. Johns, III, MD
Director, USC Voice Center at Keck Medicine of USC and Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and Division Director of Laryngology at the Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
Mike Johns III is Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and is Director of the USC Voice Clinic. I talk to Mike Johns at least three times a week, usually while I am walking around Green Lake here in Seattle, WA. We cover life, politics (of otolaryngology), careers, and gossip. I chose Mike as one of my Presidential Citation awardees to recognize him and the circle of professional friends and advisors he represents. He has encouraged me when I wasn't sure of things, flicked me in the forehead (figuratively) when I was off base, shared alternative perspectives, and argued with me to help hone a plan or show me the errors of my thinking. Dr. Johns brings a blend of candor, energy, trust, and raw smarts that I find very compelling in a friend and partner. I am truly grateful for his advice and friendship.
Tanya K. Meyer, MD
Surgeon at the University of Washington Head and Neck Surgery Center and a University of Washington Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery
Dr. Meyer is my longtime friend and partner here at the University of Washington. She is a senior laryngologist with a national reputation in clinical neurolaryngology as well as for her research on the impact of voice disorders in the workplace. Her local reputation is due to this but also for being our respected and highly successful Residency Program Director here at UW. Dr. Meyer has a blend of kindness and ferocity that I admire greatly. Furthermore, while I struggle with my self-importance and ego, she has no such demons.
Dr. Meyer embodies so much of the positive that I see in the otolaryngology world around me; she herself is a bit of a throwback uniform from sepia-toned days of otolaryngology but also has a very real grasp of contemporary issues facing our trainees today. Her beloved parents were both surgeons; her father worked for years as an orthopedic surgeon in North Carolina, and her now departed mother was a true pioneer—a Korean-American woman trained in otolaryngology here in the United States in the 1970s. While many of you reading this have fathers (and even children) who are otolaryngologists, I know of no other example of a leader in otolaryngology whose mother was an otolaryngologist. That will certainly change in time! Dr. Meyer is a special person in my life, and I choose to honor her as one of my Presidential Citation awardees. I absolutely could not have done this without her and the support of our team at the University of Washington Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
Robert H. Ossoff, DMD, MD
Former Guy M. Maness Professor of Laryngology and Voice at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
My life changed when I had my first conversation with Dr. Ossoff. This took place in the small break room at the Vanderbilt Voice Center during my fellowship interview in 1995. The lunch meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes but went for over an hour. "I view myself as an educator," he told me as he laid out his long-term vision for moving laryngology forward as a recognized subspecialty within otolaryngology. Dr. Ossoff has a professional intensity I truly admire. I never saw him do anything but the right thing for the patient. He was careful, methodical, and at all times a total professional – truly a model clinician.
Dr. Ossoff provided something very valuable to me in my early career: While acknowledging my excellent training at UCSD, he described his fellowship as a sort of finishing school, honing my clinical thinking and helping mature me as a professional. As a mentor and advisor, he is second to none in our field; each and every major professional decision I have faced has been informed by a conversation with Dr. Ossoff. When I was asked to consider running for this office of President of our AAO-HNS/F, I spoke to two people: JPM (Jenny, my wife) and Dr. Ossoff. I learned the word naches from him—that magical Yiddish word for the feeling of gratification and pride in the accomplishments of others. As I mature into more mentorship roles, I have begun to better understand the power of naches in the way that he described it to me all these years.