Meet Our Team

Meet John S. Oghalai, MD

Originally published August 11, 2017

Last updated April 30, 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dr. Oghalai is an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in ear and skull base surgery.

Here’s what you won’t find on his resume.

Science fueled his youth.

“When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, because I liked helping people and I loved science.”

He spends his spare time with his family in the outdoors.

“When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my wife Tracy and kids, Kevin and Tom. We enjoy hiking, biking, movies, traveling and outings with the Boy Scouts.”

He loves what he does.

“Make sure you pick a career that you will enjoy doing. That’s the best piece of advice I ever received. I’m very lucky, because I like coming to work!”

Here’s how he sees his professional role.

“I see myself in three different roles. As a clinician, talking with my patients is a lot of fun. Helping them with surgery is extremely gratifying.

From the research perspective, I also feel like I’m making a difference in my patients’ lives, by working to discover new ways to help them overcome their diseases.

As an educator, I see mentoring students, research trainees and young faculty as a privilege, and it makes me proud to see them succeed and lead happy lives.”

His work offers several rewards.

“There are two highly rewarding aspects of my job. The first is seeing the long-term outcomes of my patients after cochlear implantation, particularly the children. It’s amazing to see them hear and talk like their peers and to be like anybody else in school. The second is following up on the students and trainees I have worked with over the years. It makes me thrilled to have been a part of their training.”

Inspiration comes from his patients.

“I’m inspired by my patients. Providing compassion and support in the face of diseases that are inadequately treated by modern therapies is an important part of what I do. While this aspect of medicine is critical — in fact, this is why I believe that academic medical centers are so important — ultimately, it would be even better to actually treat the disease. The research and discovery required to develop treatments drives me to work hard.”

The study of light has improved his practice.

“The most influential advancement in my field is optics, the scientific study of sight and the behavior of light. Microscopic and endoscopic tools have revolutionized the way otolaryngologists perform surgery, by improving accuracy and minimizing trauma.”

Keck Medicine stands apart from other institutions.

“The USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery has the most enthusiastic and committed group of faculty, staff and trainees I have ever seen. Everybody is enthusiastic to improve the way medical care is delivered, to advance our understanding of disease and to develop new treatments for untreatable disease. The energy of this bunch is incredible, and I’m privileged to join them.”

View Dr. Oghalai’s full biography and schedule an appointment.