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February 2013

In Memoriam: William F. House, DDS, MD, the “Father of Neurotology” (1923-2012)

Author Affiliations

Research consultant to House Research Institute

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;139(2):202-203. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.51

The “Father of Neurotology,” William F. House, DDS, MD, died on Friday, December 7, 2012, at the age of 89 years. Although his use of the operating microscope, innovative surgical techniques, and development of the cochlear implant are now widely accepted, he struggled constantly against conventional thinking—producing new procedures and ideas that were frequently opposed when first introduced.

Dr House began his career as a dentist, obtaining his doctorate of dental surgery from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1945. He met and married June Stendahl, a nursing student, just months before graduating. Although he had already chosen to attend medical school to pursue maxillofacial surgery, he was obligated to spend 2 years in the Navy as a dental officer. He subsequently obtained his MD degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles in 1953. At that time, many considered otolaryngology–head and neck surgery to be a dying profession with the advent of penicillin to eradicate infections, and because of that he was the sole residency applicant for the specialty at the Los Angeles County hospital that year.

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