The Otolaryngology Department at the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU) was founded in the 1930s by community-based doctors. Its first full time director, David DeWeese, M.D., was appointed in 1962. The department expanded the training program to two residents per year in 1969. The hearing research program was started under Dr. DeWeese's direction in the 1960s with the recruitment of Jack Vernon, PhD and Mary Meikle, PhD. Dr. Vernon was the first Director of the Kresege Hearing Research Laboratory, which later became the Oregon Hearing Research Center (OHRC). Dr. Vernon retired in 1995, and Alfred Nuttall, PhD was recruited from the University of Michigan Medical School to replace him as Director. Since 1996, the OHRC has grown from a faculty of 5 to 11 full-time faculty researchers.
Alexander Schleuning, MD was appointed Chair of the department when Dr. DeWeese retired. During Dr. Schleuning's tenure, the department reached several milestones, including the creation of the first tinnitus clinic in the United States, the launching of the Cochlear Implant Program, and the development of an international hearing loss prevention program (Dangerous Decibels). Dr. Mark Richardson was appointed Chair following Dr Schleuning's retirement in 2001. As Chair, Dr Richardson was awarded the department's first NIH T32 training grant in 2002, and an increase of resident positions from 2 to 3 was granted in 2003 by the Residency Review Committee. Dr Richardson was appointed Dean of the School of Medicine, after the former Dean, Dr Joe Robertson, MD, MBA, was named President of OHSU.
In March 2009, Paul W. Flint, MD, was named Department Chair and was charged with expanding the scope of research through the growth of both clinical and basic science programs. There are currently twenty-three full time clinical faculty, including five clinician-scientists and thirteen basic scientists. The department currently ranks second in the nation in National Institute of Health (NIH)- sponsored research among otolaryngology departments in U.S. medical schools.