Professor Martin Birchall trained in medicine at Jesus College Cambridge and in ENT Surgery in London, Liverpool and Brisbane. He studied for a higher degree at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and was the first surgeon to be awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Leave Fellowship in 2001. Senior Lecturer and Reader in ENT in Bristol, he was appointed to the Chair of Head and Neck Surgery in Liverpool in 2003 and subsequently inaugural John Farndon Professor of Surgery in Bristol in 2006.
He moved to take up a post as Professor of Laryngology at University College London and to work as Consultant specialising in disorders of voice and throat at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in 2009. His clinical and research interests are in laryngeal disorders including laryngitis, stenosis, tracheostomy, vocal cord paralysis, problems with swallowing and lumps in the throat, and advanced endoscopic and outpatient procedures.
The loss of a functioning larynx incurs immense damage to the social and life functions we regard as part of normal human existence. Professor Birchall's research revolves around restoration of laryngeal function and understanding of laryngeal inflammation. In 2008, he was co-leader of the team which performed the world's first stem-cell based organ transplant on an airway in a 30 year old woman. Again, in 2010, this team replaced the entire trachea in an 11 year old boy at Great Ormond Street. Although it is still early, both are doing well.
Professor Birchall now runs a research programme looking at ways of applying stem cells and tissue engineering to the laryngeal disorders. Clinically, he specialises in voice and swallowing disorders, as one of four internationally renowned laryngologists at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital/Ear Institute. He was Morgan Stanley/Daily Telegraph Briton of the Year in 2008 (Science and Technology) and elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2010.
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