Noel L. Cohen Award for Significant Contributions to Otology and Neurotology

Through a generous gift from our late colleague, ANS has established the Noel L. Cohen, M.D. Award for Significant Contributions to Otology and Neurotology. The establishment of the award is a fitting tribute to Dr. Cohen — a gifted physician, surgeon, academician, educator, administrator and a leader. His contributions brought distinction to Otology & Neurotology, New York University, and our society. The first recipient of this esteemed award, Dr. Thomas Balkany, was announced at the 55th Annual virtual Fall meeting on Sept 12, 2020. 

Robert K. Jackler, MD
News | Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute

Dr. Jackler was raised in Waterville, Maine, attended college and medical school in Boston, and moved west to the University of California, San Francisco for residency in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. After taking a Neurotology fellowship at the House Ear Clinic (1985), Dr. Jackler joined the faculty at UCSF where he remained until 2003 when he became the Sewall Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Under his leadership the faculty grew from 6 to over 50 and grew annual research budget from nil to over $12 million.

Dr. Jackler is an otologist-neurotologist who specializes in complex ear diseases. He has a special interest in tumors of the lateral and posterior cranial base and has written numerous analytical papers derived from his microsurgical series. A long standing collaboration with medical illustrator Chris Gralapp has produced @ 3000 original illustrations of ear and cranial base surgery.  Since 1989, Dr. Jackler has maintained a fellowship program in neurotology & skull base surgery which has trained many academic leaders in the field. 

Dr. Jackler has authored 200+ peer reviewed papers, 40+ chapters, numerous editorials, published four books Neurotology (1994, 2004), Atlas of Neurotology & Skull Base Surgery (1996, 2008), Tumors of the Ear and Temporal Bone (2000), and Ear Surgery Illustrated (2019). Dr. Jackler leads the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss whose mission is to create biological cures for major forms of inner ear hearing loss through a research effort that is sustained, large-scale, multidisciplinary, focused, goal–oriented, and transformational.  He is past president of the American Neurotology Society, editor-in chief emeritus of the journal Otology & Neurotology, and is an honorary member of the Royal College of Surgeons in both London and Edinburgh.

Dr. Jackler is principal investigator of the interdisciplinary research group Stanford Research Into The Impact of Tobacco Advertising which conducts research into the promotional activities of the tobacco industry. SRITA collected @50,000 original tobacco advertisements which now resides in the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution. SRITA maintains an extensive online digital collection of tobacco advertisement for use by scholars ( which over the last 6 years has had nearly 600,000 unique users. Dr. Jackler has written extensively on the advertising of traditional tobacco products and, more recently on aspects of the youth vaping epidemic. 

CLICK HERE to view Dr. Jackler's remarks after receiving this prestigious award from ANS President, Dr. Bradley Kesser at the 56th Annual virtual Spring meeting on April 10, 2021. 

About Dr. Noel L. Cohen 

Dr. Cohen’s education and training was marked by distinction. He received his B.A. from the University Heights College in the Bronx in 1951.  Subsequently, in 1955, he received his M.D. from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. It was in Holland that he met his wife, Baukje.  Between 1957 to 1959, Noel served as Lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve. He first joined the NYU family in 1959 as an ENT resident and, following completion, he stayed on as faculty in 1962.  

At NYU, Dr. Cohen’s career flourished as did NYU under his leadership. Little known is that early in his career, Noel was an accomplished thyroid surgeon before choosing the path that would lead him to become one of the leading cochlear implant and acoustic neuroma surgeons. A natural leader, Dr. Cohen became Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology in 1980, a position he held until 2003 – an impressive 23 years! In 1997-1998, he served as Interim Dean of NYU School of Medicine.

Under his leadership as Chair, the department grew in national and international stature. He established the NYU Cochlear Implant Center and built it into one of the largest clinical and research cochlear implant programs in the world. His landmark VA Cochlear Implant study established the superiority of multichannel cochlear implants over single-channel device. He was one the early pioneers in the clinical application of auditory brainstem implants. In addition to cochlear and brainstem implants, he built one of the largest acoustic neuroma programs on the East Coast.

A distinguished surgeon and speaker, he was highly sought after as guest, participant, and lecturer, throughout the world. In 2003, in recognition of his many contributions to medicine, he was awarded an Honorary M.D. from University of Freiberg. Though he will forever be remembered for his innumerable contributions, his friends and colleagues will fondly remember him for his kindness and humanity.  The establishment of the Noel L. Cohen Award is a wonderful tribute to our late friend and colleague and will forever associate his name to significant contributions in Otology & Neurotology.  It will serve to honor those amongst us whose contributions reflect an enduring commitment to scientific innovation and medical advancement in our field.