Steven M. Zeitels

Steven M. Zeitels

Steven Marc Zeitels
Born (1957-11-07) 7 November 1957
New York City, New York, United States
Residence United States
Institutions Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital
Known for surgical innovation, voice procedures (phonosurgery)

Steven Marc Zeitels (born November 7, 1957) is the Eugene B. Casey Professor of Laryngeal Surgery at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation (MGH Voice Center). He specializes in throat, voice, airway and larynx problems. In 2004, the first endowed Chair in Laryngeal Surgery at Harvard Medical School was created for him while he re-established a Harvard Laryngeal Surgery service at the MGH, which had not been present since the 1920s. He has received more than 50 awards and honored lectureships for his achievements including the Casselberry Award and the Newcomb Award from the American Laryngological Association, as well as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine in 2007.


  • Career 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Recognition 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Zeitels grew up in New Rochelle, New York. His father, an orthodontist, pushed him to take up a career in medicine and enrolled him at the age of 16 in the 1st class of Boston University Trustee Scholars, an experimental educational program for gifted teens wanting to go into medicine. In 1976 he obtained a scholarship to Boston University's accelerated six-year medical program. He graduated from the BU School of Medicine in 1982.[1]

Knowing he wanted to be a surgeon he completed the BU - Tufts combined Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Program in 1987 as well as a Head & Neck Surgical Oncology Fellowship at BU and the Boston Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1988. While there he designed and patented a surgical laryngoscope with a triangular opening, which allowed doctors to see previously obscured areas of the throat.

Zeitels is regarded as a prolific surgical innovator having designed numerous new voice restoration procedures (phonosurgery) and instruments, and holds a number of patents for these innovations. He is widely acknowledged for pioneering novel laser applications to treat dysplasia and cancer as well as laryngeal papillomatosis, polyps, nodules and is also well known for perfecting office-based laryngeal laser surgery. Most notable, was his introduction of angiolytic laser treatment of vocal cord cancer, which was a groundbreaking achievement evolving from Judah Folkman’s concepts of tumor angiogenesis and Rox Anderson’s theory of selective photothermolysis. Zeitels has also designed unique procedures to restore the voice of those who have had vocal paresis and paralysis. His techniques were featured in a National Geographic Channel documentary, “The Incredible Human Machine”, which highlighted Zeitels’ microsurgery on Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Zeitels also performed a unique endoscopic removal of a tongue-base larynx cancer on Tom Hamilton, Aerosmith’s bass guitarist after radiation and chemotherapy failed to control his advanced throat cancer.[2]

Zeitels’ work has been featured in the Harvard Medical Alumni Journal, the Harvard Magazine and the Boston University Alumni Journal and discussed extensively in print media, radio, and television both nationally and internationally [i.e. Good Morning America, The Today Show, ABC World News, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, London Sunday Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, NPR, BBC, National Geographic, Nightline, Bloomberg, Reuters, Boston – New York – LA television news. Zeitels has done career-saving surgery on hundreds of American and international performing vocalists.

Media venues have discussed the surgical and medical care of a number of Zeitels’ celebrity patients including Adele, Julie Andrews, Steven Tyler, Cher, Joe Buck, Dick Vitale, Lionel Richie, Roger Daltrey, Paul Stanley, Christina Perri, Denyce Graves, Frederica von Stade, Carol Vaness, Livingston Taylor, Anna Vissi, Sam Wyche, Jim O'Brien, Charlie Moore, David Brudnoy, Sam Smith, John Mayer, and Connie Fisher. His patients have been strong supporters of research and education and formed the nonprofit Voice Health Institute(VHI), formerly known as the Institute for Laryngology and Voice Restoration (ILVR) to help others with laryngeal and voice disorders. Julie Andrews serves as the Honorary chairwoman of the VHI Advisory Board. Along with Julie Andrews, Steven Tyler, Denyce Graves, Joe Buck and Roger Daltrey have been active collaborators with Zeitels to advance the cause of restoring lost voices. In Roger Daltrey's case, Zeitels removed precancerous dysplasia from his vocal fold just one month prior to his 2010 Super Bowl performance.[3]

Zeitels conceived and directs the Voice Restoration Research Program, which is a collaborative effort of investigators at Harvard and MGH, as well as Robert Langer at MIT. They have spent over a decade developing a biomaterial that would restore the largest majority of human voice loss and the research group received the 2010 Broyles Maloney Award of the American Bronchoesophagological Association for their effort. They hope to initiate human trials to test the new vocal biogel in early 2013.[4]

Zeitels’ single-author Atlas of Phonomicrosurgery is considered by many surgeons to be the definitive text in microsurgery of the larynx. Zeitels has authored more than 200 scientific articles, book chapters, and videotapes in these areas as well as presenting over 300 papers and lectures. He serves or has served on the editorial board of 5 national and international journals.

Personal life

While in Chile lecturing as a guest of the Chilean Society of Otolaryngology in 2001 he meet Maria Nuria Hananias, a Chilean otolaryngological surgeon. Married in 2003, they have two children, a boy and a girl.[5]


  • 1975-79 Boston University Trustee Scholar.
  • 1998 Casselberry Award: American Laryngological Association.
  • 2004 Zeitels became the Eugene B. Casey Professor of Laryngeal Surgery at Harvard Medical School, the first in this field at Harvard
  • 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine.
  • 2010 Broyles Maloney Award of the American Bronchoesophagological Association.
  • 2012 Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People (14th)[6]
  • 2012 Rolling Stone’s 25 Best Things in Rock (13th)[7]
  • 2012 Grammy Awards Show: Adele recognizes Dr. Zeitels by thanking him for restoring her voice as she accepted the first of her six awards


  1. ^ Colapinto, John (4 March 2013), "Giving Voice : A Surgeon Pioneers Methods to Help Singers Sing Again", The New Yorker: 50 
  2. ^ "Tom Hamilton: Saving Voices With Lasers - WABC-TV NYC". 29 August 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Who - Daltrey Was Recovering From Secret Throat Surgery At Super Bowl Gig". 5 January 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "Stars align for synthetic vocal cord trials". 13 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Colapinto, John (4 March 2013), "Giving Voice : A Surgeon Pioneers Methods to Help Singers Sing Again", The New Yorker: 54 
  6. ^ "How To Save Adele And Improve Medicine". 1 June 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Mass. General cancer doc lands in Rolling Stone cover story". 22 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 

External links

  • Massachusetts General Hospital's Voice Center
  • Voice Health Institute - VHI (Non-Profit), formerly the Institute of Laryngology and Voice Restoration - ILVR