The Keck School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles, Calif, has announced the sudden and tragic passing of John K. Niparko, MD, who chaired the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Dr Niparko, who died on April 25, 2016, had been selected from a group of more than 50 highly qualified candidates in February 2013 to chair the Otolaryngology-HNS Department at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. He was widely regarded as a transformative recruitment to USC and a pillar of the university, and the fields of science and medicine. In his three years at USC, Dr Niparko led the department’s ascent to the top 10 departments of otolaryngology research funding in the country, strategically expanded its faculty and clinical services, and provided life-changing treatments and services to countless adults, children, and their families. Dr Niparko’s work spanned not only the greater Los Angeles region, but touched patients across the world through his international outreach.

According to his colleagues at USC, Dr Niparko “embodied the best of what it means to be surgeon-scientist, as he transformed not only his department, but medicine as a whole. His career was a synthesis of humanism and scientific achievement.”

Dr Niparko was deeply committed to his work at USC, which included expanding his department’s clinical programming, initiating new strategies for training residents and medical students, and developing collaborative, entrepreneurial relationships to bolster the department’s research endeavors.

An internationally renowned otology surgeon and researcher who received many awards throughout his distinguished career, Dr Niparko authored, co-authored, and edited many papers, articles, and books. Dr Niparko came to USC from Johns Hopkins University, where he had been a professor and director of the division of otology, neurotology and skull base surgery, as well as medical director of the division of audiology. From 2009 to 2012, he had served as interim director of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins, which since 1998 had been ranked number one in ear, nose, and throat care in the nation by US News & World Report.

Dr Niparko was a leading authority on cochlear implants and other implantable devices that improve hearing for the profoundly deaf and severely hard of hearing. Under his leadership, the cochlear implant programs at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and Johns Hopkins garnered international reputations for excellence in cochlear implantation, post-operative training and rehabilitation, groundbreaking research, and participation in clinical trials of advanced implantable devices, such as the auditory brainstem implant (ABI).

Most recently, Dr Niparko had been leading a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study that examines the effects of cochlear implantation on language, behavioral, and societal outcomes in children. The study involves 62 investigators from six university-based clinical sites and two data coordination centers.

In a message from USC, his colleagues shared that “John was a dynamic and humble colleague and leader, whose good humor, compassion, and gentle nature earned our esteem and deep affection. We are all enriched for having known him.”

A native of Detroit, Mich, Dr Niparko had received his bachelor’s degree and medical degree with distinction from the University of Michigan, where he also completed his residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and a fellowship in neurotology. He served as a faculty member at Michigan following the completion of his fellowship, before moving on to Johns Hopkins. He leaves behind his beloved wife and two sons, extended family, many patients, and a wide circle of friends.

The Keck School of Medicine at USC reports that a memorial service for Dr Niparko was held at USC on May 10, 2016.

In lieu of flowers, the Niparko Family would be most grateful for gifts in honor of Dr Niparko to be directed to the John Niparko Endowment Fund to carry on his vision at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. To donate in Dr Niparko’s memory follow this link, and be sure to click on the “Memorial or honorarium information” link on page two of the donation form and indicate that your gift is in memory of “John Niparko, MD”.