Kristina Simonyan, MD, PhD, Dr med, director of Laryngology Research at Mass Eye and Ear, has been promoted to Professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS).
Dr. Simonyan is world-renowned for her research on complex speech and motor behaviors in healthy individuals and patients with neurological voice and speech disorders, such as laryngeal dystonia and voice tremor. She earned her medical degrees and completed her residency training in otolaryngology at Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia and Georg-August University in Germany. She subsequently obtained her PhD in neurobiology from the TiHo University of Hannover and the German Primate Center and completed a clinical research fellowship in neurolaryngology, movement disorders and neuroimaging at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Prior to joining the HMS faculty in 2017, Dr. Simonyan was a tenured Associate Professor of Neurology and Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Dr. Simonyan is largely credited with helping establish the understanding of functional and structural neural networks responsible for controlling voice and speech. She is also widely recognized for her fundamental work in defining focal dystonias (including laryngeal dystonia) as functional and structural neural network disorders. Her laboratory employs a cross-disciplinary approach that includes brain imaging, machine learning, computational neuroscience, genetics and clinical trials.
Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Simonyan is credited with developing a robust deep-learning platform for the automatic diagnosis of dystonia, identifying the first oral drug for the treatment of alcohol-responsive laryngeal dystonia and voice tremor and, most recently, implementing a novel brain computer interface-based intervention for dystonia rehabilitation.
Since 2008, her research has continuously been funded by multiple R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health. Last year, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicable Disorders awarded Dr. Simonyan an $11.7 million P50 Clinical Research Center Grant to launch and lead a new, multi-institutional center committed to conducting research on laryngeal dystonia and voice tremor.
“Dr. Simonyan has already helped shape the worldwide discussion on dystonia and tremor, and her future work is poised to deliver diagnostic and therapeutic breakthroughs that could forever change outcomes for patients debilitated by these conditions,” said Mark A. Varvares, MD, FACS, Chief of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Mass Eye and Ear and Chair of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at HMS. “We take great pride in Dr. Simonyan’s work and the impact it one day might have on thousands of people suffering from neurological voice disorders.”