Education Events Head and Neck Cancer

Spector Lecture highlights leadership in academic medicine

The Ogura Lecture Hall was filled to capacity for the 2024 Spector Lectureship offerd by Mark Varvares, MD, chair of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

The Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University celebrated the 6th annual Spector Lectureship in the Biology of Cancer on April 24. Invited speaker Mark Varvares, MD, shared his thoughts on the importance of leadership in academic medicine.

Mark Varvares, MD

Varvares currently serves as the John W. Merriam/William W. Montgomery Professor and chair of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School. A native of St. Louis, he was formerly the chair of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University. His clinical interests include squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, free flap reconstruction of head and neck defects, skull base surgery, surgery of the parotid, thyroid and parathyroid glands and larynx, and cancer of the nose and paranasal sinuses.

The Spector Lectureship celebrates the career of head and neck surgeon Gershon Spector, MD, professor emeritus of the Department of Otolaryngology. Over the past few years, the annual celebration has grown beyond a simple grand rounds lecture to now include a discussion of select case studies with residents; a campus-wide cancer research symposium; and a public cancer survivorship lecture.

Following the lecture, residents presented Varvares with a variety of case studies to get his thoughts on the best approaches to diagnosis and patient care in each scenario. This year, case studies were offered by ENT residents Andrew Peterson, MD, MSCI, Theresa Tharakan, MD, Emma Watson, MD, PhD, and Matthew Wu, MD.

Residents cherished the opportunity to learn from such an experienced surgeon.

“Dr. Varvares’ visit presented a fantastic opportunity to collect feedback on some unique head and neck surgical oncology cases,” said Peterson. “Everyone in the room benefited from his wealth of knowledge and experience.”

Gershon Spector, MD headshot
Gershon Spector, MD

Event host and WashU Division Chief of Head and Neck Surgery Sid Puram, MD, PhD, was a former trainee at Harvard under Varvares.

“Our 2024 Spector Lectureship was a huge success,” said Puram. “Dr. Varvares shared deep wisdom with our entire team about the qualities of a strong and successful leader as well as his own journey and approach to being a servant leader. In addition, we were fortunate to highlight another incredible display of the multidisciplinary cancer research across campus as well as our very first survivorship lecture for patients.”

Puram also acknowledged the event helped to highlighted the strong efforts related to self-improvement, research, and patient outreach that have imbued the new Siteman Head and Neck Tumor Center with significant energy and excitement.

Varvares was humbled by the opportunity and was impressed by the depth of  WashU’s program on all fronts as well as the multi-disciplinary, multi-pronged efforts to be matured through the Head and Neck Tumor Center.

“It was an incredible honor to be able to provide the Spector Lecture,” he said. “After knowing about Dr. Spector’s work through my entire career, to be able to learn more about him and to celebrate his contributions by providing this talk was gratifying and truly a highlight of my career. I am so grateful for the invitation to share in this event with you.”

Varvares with ENT residents following case studies presentations.