Howard Wayne Francis

Howard Francis
Chair of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

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Scholars@Duke Academic Profile 

Dr. Howard W. Francis, is the Richard Hall Chaney, Sr. Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology and Chair of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences (HNS&CS) at Duke University Medical Center. As a neurotologist Dr. Francis’ clinical interests span the full scope of this subspecialty including the management of conditions of the ear, skull base and associated nervous system. His research career has encompassed the study of cochlear innervation and neuropathologic mechanisms, cochlear implantation risk factors and outcomes in children and older adults, delivery models of hearing healthcare and surgical education. 

After completing his high-school education in Jamaica, and his bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Dr. Francis earned his medical degree from the Harvard-MIT division of Health, Science and Technology at Harvard Medical School, and then completed his internship, residency and fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He completed his Master of Business Administration with a focus in medical services management at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. After 19 years on the faculty at Johns Hopkins during which he served as Residency Program Director, Director of the Johns Hopkins Listening Center and Vice Director of the Department, he was appointed Chief of the Division of HNS&CS in the Department of Surgery at Duke in March 2017. Dr. Francis then oversaw the formation of a new independent Department of HNS&CS in July 2019 and was appointed the inaugural Department Chair in January 2020.

In his role as the Department Chair, Dr. Francis is ultimately responsible for strategic planning and implementation of clinical care, research, education and community engagement missions. Dr. Francis works in close partnership with the Chief Administrative Officer, the Chief of staff, the Residency Program Director, the Vice Chairs, and Associate Vice Chairs. Dr. Francis’ overarching vision is of a Department that leverages the talents and resources of a world class research university, health system and regional hub of innovation, to generate better clinical and public health solutions, to train a new generation of leaders, and to be a first-in-class destination for patient care. Dr. Francis is responsible for ensuring that Departmental values are adhered to, institutional principles of professionalism are followed, and that the academic culture supports a safe and inclusive learning and work environment. Dr. Francis assists faculty to align their interests and talents with programmatic priorities and partners with institutional leaders and donors to support defining initiatives.