Michael M. Johns, III, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory Voice Center, will receive the prestigious Dennis W. Jahnigen Career Development Scholars Award. The award will help Dr. Johns further his research on the efficacy of treatments for age-related vocal difficulties.
Just like eyes and ears, aging can affect the vocal chords. Sometimes the change is hardly noticeable. However, a condition that can develop with aging called presbylaryngis causes a thinning of the vocal fold muscle and tissue, creating irregular vibration of the vocal cords. This problem can leave an individual with a hoarse, weak or breathy voice.
To determine if patients with serious symptoms of presbylaryngis are being effectively treated, Dr. Johns' study will look at patient outcomes with current treatments for vocal fold atrophy.
"Changes in voice are commonly associated with aging," says Dr. Johns. "Those changes can significantly impair the ability to communicate meaningfully with others, and that can have an impact on quality of life. As the baby-boomer generation ages, demand for treatment of presbylaryngis will continue to increase."
"Current treatments have never been studied," he says. "Most of the evidence we have is anecdotal or from case series reports. We hope this study will help us to better understand treatment outcomes so that we can be certain we are using the most effective options for our patients."
The Jahnigen Career Development Scholars Awards Program, funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies, currently provides two-year grants totaling $200,000, including an institutional match, to assist young faculty to initiate and ultimately sustain a career in research and education in the geriatrics aspects of his/her discipline. Up to ten proposals are selected for funding each year.
Dr. Johns' institutional funding was supported by his mentors Douglas Mattox, MD, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at Emory and Joseph Ouslander, MD, director of the Center for Aging at the Wesley Woods Center at Emory University.
Dr. Johns received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and he completed his residency training at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He went on to complete a research fellowship at the University of Michigan Muscle Mechanics Laboratory, and followed that with a fellowship in laryngology and care of the professional voice at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in the treatment and study of vocal chord dysfunction and laryngeal disease.