Meet a Doctor: Michael J. McKenna, M.D.
Neurotologist Michael McKenna, M.D., started his medical career at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Today he is a Harvard Medical School Professor in the Department of Otology and Laryngology.
Dr. McKenna is often hard at work in his National Institute of Health funded lab, where he seeks better ways to treat sensorineural hearing loss caused by otosclerosis, a disease where abnormal deposits of bone form in the ear.
In addition to his research, “teaching is a critical and essential responsibility and essential to the future of medical care,” says Dr. McKenna, who is the director of Mass. Eye and Ear’s neurotology fellowship program. The fellowship provides advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the auditory and vestibular systems, facial nerve, temporal bone, lateral skull base and related head and neck structures. Many of Mass. Eye and Ear’s neurotology fellows continue to learn as they assist with research in Dr. McKenna’s lab.
While he acknowledges the importance of teaching and research, Dr. McKenna says, “My primary responsibility, above all else, is patient care.”
Dr. McKenna’s dedication to patient care and research came together in his involvement in the development of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) Program. The Auditory Brainstem Implant is a surgically implanted electrical device that provides input to the auditory system for people without functioning auditory nerves. The device has been FDA approved for those who have hearing loss as a result of Neurofibromatosis, Type II. An ABI research facility is currently under construction at the Mass. Eye and Ear and will contain areas for clinical care and basic science research, headed by Mass. Eye and Ear neurotologist Ronald de Venecia, M.D., Ph.D., and Christian Brown, Ph.D. The facility is the first of its kind in the New England area.
“It gives me great pleasure to know that Mass. Eye and Ear will have a hand in possibly improving this device and passing that knowledge on to future specialists and ultimately helping thousands of people with hearing loss,” says Dr. McKenna.
Dr. McKenna is seeing patients who would be potential candidates for this device. With further research, he and his colleagues hope to improve the function of the device, which currently offers hope to thousands of people with hearing loss.