History People

Joseph H. Ogura: A national pioneer in otolaryngology

photo of Joseph Ogura, MD

You have likely heard of the Ogura Learning Center, but do you know the man behind the name?

Joseph H. Ogura, MD, was the fifth chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University and one of the most prolific doctors and researchers in the field.

Born in San Francisco in 1915, Ogura received his medical degree from the University of California. In 1948, he completed his residency at Barnes Hospital and McMillan Hospital before joining the Otolaryngology faculty at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1966, he was appointed chair of the department and successfully led them for more than 16 years.

photo of Joseph Ogura
Joseph H. Ogura, MD

Through a distinguished career spanning nearly 40 years, Ogura cemented a long list of accomplishments. He is known for developing a number of surgical techniques in head and neck surgery, but best known for conservation surgery of the larynx. Between his surgical innovations and research, he was stapled as a legend in his field. With nearly 300 published articles, contributions to over 20 books, and more than 100 lectures around the world, he made a mark that will be surpassed by few in the field of otolaryngology.

His achievements were greatly recognized making him the third physician in the history of the American Laryngological Association to receive its coveted Triple Crown: the James Newcomb Award in 1967 for laryngeal research, the Casselberry Award in 1968 for nasopulmonary work, and the DeRoaldes Gold Medal in 1979 for career accomplishment. He also belonged to over 30 professional societies and received medals from India, England, Finland and Yugoslavia. He was appointed by two United States Presidents to the National Cancer Advisory Board, on which he served for eight years.

Ogura passed away in 1983, but left a lasting mark not only on the School of Medicine and Department of Otolaryngology, but the entire world. The Ogura Learning Center and annual Ogura Lectureship was named in honor of his research and innovation to medical care.