Returning to His Roots


A leader in the field, former trainee and faculty member is back to continue caring for sinus patients.


December 20, 2018

After Robert Naclerio finished medical school at Baylor College of Medicine in 1976, he planned to continue onto his otolaryngology-head and neck surgery residency there. But rather than completing the required two years of general surgery at Baylor first, Naclerio decided to receive that training at Johns Hopkins. He eventually returned to Johns Hopkins during his otolaryngology-head and neck surgery residency at Baylor to complete an allergy and clinical immunology fellowship.  After finishing his otolaryngology training he joined the faculty at Hopkins, moving up the ranks to become a full professor.

Now, after decades at the University of Chicago, where he served as Chief of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Naclerio is back to stay at his old stomping grounds at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, continuing his long-term work caring for sinus patients and researching ways to improve their outcomes.

The field has changed in myriad ways since he started his career here in 1976, Naclerio notes. At that time, there was no endoscopic sinus surgery in the United States. Soon after he returned to Johns Hopkins in the early 1980s for his first faculty position, his colleague David Kennedy brought the first sinus endoscopes to the United States from Europe. The approach has since become a mainstay to treat a variety of sinus conditions, including chronic rhinosinusitis and skull based tumors.


Robert Naclerio

“When we performed procedures like ethmoidectomies before, we did them blind. Now, we were seeing what we were doing for the first time,” Naclerio remembers. “It was like being in a whole new world.”

Over the years since, he’s seen many other technologies become an integral part of his field, including CT scans, microdebriders and image guided systems. Along the way, he’s gained extensive experience in treating patients with sinus problems using both surgical and nonsurgical approaches. He’s also made numerous contributions to otolaryngology–head and neck surgery through research and teaching, publishing more than 400 clinical articles and book chapters and giving more than 600 lectures in the United States and around the world.

After spending the last 24 years at the University of Chicago, Naclerio says, he wanted to make a career shift. Not yet ready to retire, but interested in slowing his breakneck pace, Naclerio returned to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in April 2018 to continue treating sinus patients. He will also continue training residents and fellows and researching ways to improve clinical trials—continuing his legacy of sinus care far into the future.

“I won’t always be around to do these surgeries, to treat these patients. But by training future leaders and improving the process to develop new treatments,” Naclerio says, “I hope to influence this field long after my time practicing medicine is over.”

To refer a patient, call 443-997-6467


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