NEWS | September 12, 2012

UC Davis ear, nose and throat specialist honored for service, leadership


Travis Tollefson, associate professor of otolaryngology at UC Davis Health System, received an Honors Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery yesterday at the academy's 2012 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Honors Awards recognize extensive meritorious service to the academy through the presentation of instructional courses and scientific papers, and participation on academy committees or leadership positions. Tollefson has moderated an annual seminar on innovations in cleft lip repair for the last five years. He also volunteers with international outreach and contributes to the Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Committee by writing resident training materials.

Dr. Travis Tollefson © UC Regents
Travis Tollefson

Tollefson specializes in facial reconstructive surgery for children and adults, including cleft lip and palate, facial injuries after trauma or after Moh's skin cancer surgery. He also performs rhinoplasty and facial aesthetic surgery procedures, including facelifts and brow lifts.

As medical director of a volunteer cleft lift and palate surgical team, he has partnered with the University of Zimbabwe Medical School to care for children with facial deformities. The goal of the partnership is facilitate educational exchange and research, and to foster a multidisciplinary specialty surgical team in Zimbabwe. One of these research projects aims to reduce disparities in access to surgery in rural areas of Zimbabwe using geocoding to create a national geospatial distribution map of cleft lip deformities. 

Tollefson also conducts leading-edge research to improve patient care. His studies have shown that artificial muscles can restore the ability of patients with facial paralysis to blink, a development that could benefit the thousands of people each year who no longer are able to close their eyelids due to combat-related injuries, stroke, nerve injury or facial surgery. In addition, the technique, which uses a combination of electrode leads and silicon polymers, could be used to develop synthetic muscles to control other parts of the body. He has recently begun testing the potential application of this technology to prosthetic eyelids.

Tollefson has published more than 41 papers in academic journals and over 10 book chapters on facial reconstruction.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. The academic health system includes one of the country's best medical schools, a 619-bed acute-care teaching hospital, a 1000-member physician's practice group and the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. It is home to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, an international neurodevelopmental institute, a stem cell institute and a comprehensive children's hospital. Other nationally prominent centers focus on advancing telemedicine, improving vascular care, eliminating health disparities and translating research findings into new treatments for patients. Together, they make UC Davis a hub of innovation that is transforming health for all. For more information, visit