People Ear, Hearing and Vestibular

Q&A with Chair Craig Buchman

The Buchmans are avid Georgia Bulldogs fans. From left: Brett, Ross, Craig and Liz Buchman.

Celebrating his sixth anniversary as head of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, Lindburg Professor Craig A. Buchman, MD, shares his passions for neurotology and outdoor adventures.

William Hitselberger, MD (left), Craig Buchman, MD, and William House, MD, at the House Ear Institute and Clinic

Highlights

  • Undergraduate: University of Georgia (where he met his wife Liz nearly 40 years ago)
  • Medical degree: University of Florida in Gainesville
  • Residency: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Fellowship: Otology/Neurotology/Skull Base Surgery at House Ear Institute and Clinic in Los Angeles, California
  • Leadership roles include:
    • President, American Neurotology Society
    • Chair, William House Cochlear Implant Study Group
    • Past Chair, Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH)
    • Past Chair, American Cochlear Implant Alliance (ACIA)
    • Past Chair, Implantable Devices Committee of the AAO-HNS
    • Chair-elect of the Hearing Committee of the AAO-HNS
  • Prolific researcher with more than:
    • 5,000 citations
    • 180 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts
    • Multiple clinical trials (including active Department of Defense grant)
    • Multiple patents on cochlear implant technology advancements
  • More than 1,800 cochlear implant surgeries and one of the few surgeons to place auditory brainstem implants in young children
The Buchman family skiing in the Chilean Andes.

Why neurotology?

Neurotology has the intellectual and technical challenges that I knew would keep me engaged for a lifetime. More importantly, the outcomes of many of our interventions in neurotology were very satisfying, providing long-lasting and transformative outcomes for our patients.

Cochlear implant surgeries were first approved by the FDA in the mid-1980s when I was in medical school. Many credit William F. House, MD, former president of House Research Institute, as the father of neurotology as he was instrumental in the development and acceptance of cochlear implants. I was very fortunate to know Dr. House and complete my fellowship in neurotology at the House Ear Clinic with many of the leaders in our field including Derald Brackmann, William Hitselberger, and Bill Luxford among many others.

The idea that with a cochlear implant, deaf infants can grow up able to speak and hear, interact with their peers, achieve educational goals and enjoy music makes me so happy. Similarly, patients who have lost hearing later in life are able to talk to friends and family (even on the phone), engage in work and social situations and keep their minds sharp.  

The Buchmans are big supporters of Pedal the Cause.

Most rewarding?

Improving patients’ lives through direct patient care is my first professional love. Now, as department chair, I enjoy providing the opportunities and environment for faculty and staff, residents, fellows and students to achieve their career goals. I love working with our staff and faculty to find innovative solutions and utilize department resources in the ways that will most deliver on our mission: to improve our patients’ lives by leading our advancing field. 

Most memorable moments? 

When I think about some of my most memorable moments in my career, I often go back to my residency because it was the most transformative and possibly challenging time of my life. Faculty and residents will attest to the fact that I often relate stories to what and how I learned in my residency. This is also why I place such a high priority on making sure that we provide the best training to our residents. They are the future of our field and we owe it to them and their future patients to make sure they are well prepared and well supported. 

Buchman fly fishing in Utah.

Source of greatest satisfaction in your career? 

I get a kick out of seeing the research we do in the department come to fruition. To ask a novel question and begin to answer it in a way that can ultimately provide a greater understanding or better yet, affect people’s lives in a positive way.  

What do you do in your free time? 

I love spending time with my wife, Liz, and our two sons Brett and Ross. We enjoy road and mountain biking, snow skiing, golfing, fishing and traveling. Our travels are usually very active. We’ve skied in the Chilean Andes, biked through the Pyrenees Mountain range in Spain, and camped in Maine, among others. 

What don’t we know about Dr. Buchman?

I am a truly nutty University of Georgia football fan. Both of our sons are also UGA football fans, but we are UNC basketball fans (Brett’s alma mater) and University of Vermont lacrosse fans (Ross is on the team).

Buchman in the news