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Advanced Head and Neck Oncologic and Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship Program

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Otolaryngology offers fellowship training in advanced head and neck oncologic and microvascular reconstructive surgery as a one-year or two-year commitment, designed to prepare you for a career as a comprehensive head and neck surgical oncologist. 

Fellows are appointed as clinical instructors and work in collaboration with head and neck surgical faculty, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, oral surgeons, speech-language pathologists, and dental medicine. Our program offers two tracks, a clinical track and a research track. The clinical track is a one-year program that emphasizes patient care and surgery. The 2-year research track incorporates a high concentration of research, patient care, and surgery. We offer a variety of research projects in which the trainee can be involved.

Head and Neck Faculty:

José P. Zevallos, MD, MPH, FACS – The Eugene N. Myers Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology

Kevin J. Contrera, MD, MPH - Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

Robert L Ferris, MD, PhD – Director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Hillman Professor of Oncology, Co-Director of Tumor Microenvironment Center, Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research, Professor of Otolaryngology, of Immunology and Radiology

Jonas T Johnson, MD, FACS – Chair Emeritus of the Department of Otolaryngology, Distinguished Service Professor of Otolaryngology, Professor of Radiation Oncology, of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Communication Science and Disorders

Seungwon Kim, MD – Director of Head and Neck Division, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology

Jessica H. Maxwell, MD, MPH, FACS - Chief of Otolaryngology at Pittsburgh Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, Associate Residency Program Director in the Department of Otolaryngology, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology

Matthew E. Spector, MD, FACS - Division Chief of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology & Microvascular Reconstruction, Director of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology & Microvascular Reconstruction Fellowship, Professor of Otolaryngology

Shaum Sridharan, MD – Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Plastic Surgery – Head and Neck Oncologic and Microvascular Surgery

Clinical Track

The clinical track is entirely patient-based clinical training, including management of patient care, ablative and reconstructive surgery. Through our extensive surgical program, fellows have the opportunity to perform roughly 600 surgeries during their time with us. The division maintains a high volume of oncologic head and neck surgery for mucosal, cutaneous, salivary, thyroid, and skull base tumors. Fellows are expected to have a robust experience with Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS). Additionally, the division performs approximately 200 microvascular free tissue transfers for head and neck defects on an annual basis. Proficiency in microvascular reconstruction is an expectation for fellows. Fellows are expected to gain and experience comfort with flap harvest from donor sites, such as the anterolateral thigh, fibula, forearm, subscapular system, and others. The use of locoregional flaps for head and neck defects is also a major emphasis of the training.

Contributing to the multidisciplinary approach of patient care, fellows are expected to participate in medical oncology and radiation oncology clinics 6-8 days throughout their fellowship year. Once a month, each fellow will partake in clinic with that month’s assigned head and neck faculty. Once a week, fellows are to attend the Multidisciplinary Conference - tumor board. Other educational opportunities fellows are encouraged or required to attend include weekly Grand Rounds and bi-weekly Head and Neck Reconstructive Journal Club. Alongside increasing their knowledge, fellows will oversee, teach, and mentor head and neck residents. Fellows also can look to Head and Neck faculty for mentorship, guidance and leadership.

Clinical instructors will have privileges at an array of UPMC hospitals, consisting of UPMC Presbyterian (including UPMC Montefiore), UPMC Shadyside (including UPMC Hillman Cancer Center), UPMC Mercy, and Magee-Womens Hospital of Pittsburgh. 

Fellows have access to the state-of-the-art CREATES laboratory, where they can hone their surgical robotic skills. The CREATES lab brings together physicians from UPMC, as well as engineers and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, to support the growing industry in advanced surgical devices and systems. The CREATES lab also houses the da Vinci Surgical System®. UPMC has more da Vinci surgical robots and dual-console systems than any other medical center in North America. Dual consoles allow a team of surgeons to operate simultaneously, and to foster a truly comprehensive and collaborative approach to surgical care.

Research Track

The Research Track is comprised of 12 months of research and 12 months of clinical practice. The sequencing of these 24 months is very flexible, allowing the fellow to choose whether he/she wants to do a full year of research then a full year of clinical, a full year of clinical then a full year of research, or integrate the research months into the clinical care months. Our goal is to meet the needs of the fellow, as we are committed to building his/her skill set, career, experience, and prestige. The University of Pittsburgh is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute through the Head and Neck Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), one of only 5 in the US, and is a recipient of an NIH T32 training grant in head and neck oncology. This T32 grant funds our research fellow, and those who match this track have the freedom to choose from an extensive array of research opportunities to meet their research interests. The list of oncologic studies includes basic, clinical, and translational research.

NIH T32 Grant - Research Areas:

  • Head and Neck Cancer
  • Oncologic Immunology
  • Oncologic Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Genomics
  • Thyroid Pathology
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Oncologic Neurobiology

Quick Info

How to apply: complete the American Head and Neck Society application on

Application Period: TBD

Eligibility: Applicants must be Board Certified or eligible for certification in Otolaryngology, Plastic Surgery, or General Surgery. All applicants must be eligible for licensure to practice medicine in the State of Pennsylvania. Applicants must go through the American Head and Neck Society Match to be considered for fellowship.

Total Number of Positions per year: 2-3

Start Date: July 1, 2025

Program Duration: 1-2 years – 1-year Clinical Track or 2-year Research Track

Appointment Level: Clinical Instructor

Operating Privileges: Yes

Accreditation: Yes – Through American Head and Neck Society

Resident Supervision: Yes

Research: clinical, translational, basic, oncologic

Case Load: 6-13/week

Call Responsibilities: Yes – 6 weeks/year – faculty level

Benefits: Full UPMC Employee Benefits

Fellowship Director: Matthew E. Spector, MD, FACS
Division Chief, Head and Neck Surgical Oncology & Microvascular Reconstruction
Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Telephone: (412) 647-5280
Fax: (412) 647 - 2080

UPMC Department of Otolaryngology
University of Pittsburgh Physicians
203 Lothrop St
Suite 500
Pittsburgh, PA 15213