Steven M. Zeitels

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Steven Marc Zeitels
Steven Zeitels.jpg
Born (1957-11-07) 7 November 1957 (age 63)
Known forsurgical innovation, voice procedures (phonosurgery), vocal cord cancer surgery
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital

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 diseases and disorders of the throat, voice, airway and larynx. His contributions to voice and laryngeal surgery are highly recognized in the USA and throughout the world. 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 75 awards and honored lectureships for his achievements including the Casselberry Award, DeRoaldes Medal and the Newcomb Award from the American Laryngological Association (founded in 1879). Zeitels was the 4th surgeon in the organization's history to win all three awards. He has also received the Chevalier Jackson Award and the annual Broyles Maloney Award (3 times) from the American Broncho-Esophageal Association (founded in 1917), as well as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine in 2007. Zeitels is also well known for performing complex microsurgery to restore the voices of performing vocalists and has done so on 18 Grammy award-winning artists.


Zeitels grew up in New Rochelle, New York. His father and mother, an orthodontist and elementary school teacher, pressed him to take up a career in medicine. At the age of 17, Zeitels was selected to be in the 1st class of Boston University Trustee Scholars, an experimental educational program for gifted teens as well as the 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.

Zeitels is regarded as a prolific surgical innovator having designed numerous new voice restoration procedures (phonosurgery) and surgical instruments, and holds six 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. He received the 2014 Broyles Maloney Award of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association for this revolutionary surgical research. 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 was featured in a long-form article in the New Yorker Magazine in 2013. It has also been featured in the Harvard Medical Alumni Journal, the Harvard Magazine and the Boston University Alumni Journal as well as being 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, Roger Daltrey, Bono, Sam Smith, Cher, Keith Urban, Joe Buck, Dick Vitale, Lionel Richie, Paul Stanley, Christina Perri, Denyce Graves, Frederica von Stade, Donny Osmond, Melissa Errico, Carol Vaness, James and Livingston Taylor, Anna Vissi, Sam Wyche, Jim O'Brien, Charlie Moore, David Brudnoy, John Mayer, Connie Fisher, Jimi Westbrook, Jess Glynne, Miley Cyrus, and Shakira. 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, Roger Daltrey, Christina Perri, Denyce Graves, Lionel Richie and Joe Buck 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] In 2012, there was broad international coverage of Zeitels' unique microsurgery to restore Adele's voice who thanked him in the acceptance of the first of her 6 Grammy Awards.[4][5][6]

Larry Page, the CEO of Google, described his difficulties with vocal nerve injury and has been a substantial supporter of Zeitels and the Voice Health Institute to create and design the voice restoration procedures of the future.[7][8][9] 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 Broncho-Esophagological Association for their effort. They hope to initiate human trials to test the new vocal biogel in 2018.[10]

Zeitels’ single-author Atlas of Phonomicrosurgery is considered by many surgeons to be the definitive text in microsurgery of the larynx. He 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[edit]

While in Chile lecturing as a guest of the Chilean Society of Otolaryngology in 2001 he met Maria Nuria Hananias, a Chilean otolaryngological surgeon. Married in 2003, they have two children, a boy and a girl.[11]


  • 1975-79 Boston University Trustee Scholar.
  • 1998 Casselberry Award: American Laryngological Association.
  • 2004 Zeitels was conferred as the 1st incumbent of the Eugene B. Casey Professor of Laryngeal Surgery at Harvard Medical School; this was the 1st endowed professorship in this field at Harvard.
  • 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine.
  • 2010 Broyles Maloney Award of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association.
  • 2012 Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People (14th)[12]
  • 2012 Rolling Stone’s 25 Best Things in Rock (13th)[13]
  • 2012 Grammy Awards Show: Adele recognizes Dr. Zeitels by thanking him for restoring her voice as she accepted the first of her six awards.
  • 2012 Newcomb Award: American Laryngological Association.
  • 2013 New Yorker Magazine: Giving Voice - A surgeon pioneers methods to help singers sing again[14]
  • 2014 Broyles Maloney Award of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association.
  • 2014 Keynote Lecturer for the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery.
  • 2016 DeRoaldes Medal and Award: American Laryngological Association.


  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. ^ "Adele's MGH Doctor Describes 'State-Of-The-Art' Voice Surgery". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  5. ^ "Meet Adele's vocal cord surgeon, Dr. Steven Zeitels". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  6. ^ "Meet Music's Top Throat Doctors Who've Saved the Voices of Adele, Sam Smith and More". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  7. ^ Guglielmo, Connie. "Google CEO Larry Page Reveals Surgery Fix For His Hoarse Voice". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  8. ^ "Google's Larry Page Donates Millions for Research on Voice Loss". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  9. ^ Efrati, Amir; Reddy, Sumathi (2013-05-14). "Vocal-Cord Paralysis Afflicts Google CEO Larry Page". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  10. ^ "Stars align for synthetic vocal cord trials". 13 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  11. ^ Colapinto, John (4 March 2013), "Giving Voice : A Surgeon Pioneers Methods to Help Singers Sing Again", The New Yorker: 54
  12. ^ "How To Save Adele And Improve Medicine". 1 June 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Mass. General cancer doc lands in Rolling Stone cover story". 22 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  14. ^ "Giving Voice". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2016-07-05.

External links[edit]