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  • Professor, The Center for Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Diseases, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
  • Professor, Molecular Medicine & Otolaryngology, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

About the investigator

Dr. Vambutas is a clinician scientist. She is the medical director of the Apelian Cochlear Implant Program and the Section Head of Otology/Neurotology of Northwell Health. She is professor of Otolaryngology & Molecular Medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She is a professor in the Center for Autoimmune, Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Diseases, at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. She is also director of the Center for Hearing & Balance and Basic & Clinical Research, at the New York Head & Neck Institute of Northwell Health.

Dr. Vambutas completed her medical school training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine with a medical degree with distinction in research. She was an Otolaryngology resident at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and completed her fellowship training in Otology & Neurotology with Dr. Michael Paparella, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Research focus

There are three unique forms of hearing loss that may be amenable to medical therapy for recovery of natural hearing: Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease, Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Meniere’s Disease. Timely treatment with steroids results in hearing recovery in about 60% of cases. Unfortunately, that response is lost over time with repetitive treatment. For those that fail to respond to corticosteroids, there are no alternate treatments. We rehabilitate the hearing with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Despite how beneficial these devices are, they do not select for what we want to hear, unlike our brains that do it naturally and seamlessly.

Our research interests are in the restoration of natural hearing in these steroid resistant patients. To this end, we have identified the critical role of an inflammatory protein, interleukin-1 (IL-1), in this disease, and have hypothesized that blocking IL-1 may ameliorate this type of hearing loss. To test the hypothesis, we are presently running a NIH-sponsored phase I open-label clinical trial to determine if blockade of IL-1 can prevent further hearing loss in these corticosteroid-resistant individuals. We are also trying to better understand the molecular mechanisms behind these diseases, specifically in distinguishing corticosteroid sensitive and resistant hearing loss which would identify new biologic markers of disease.

Lab members

Shresh Pathak, PhD
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
Research: Studies the molecular mechanisms of pro-inflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood immune cells from patients with immune mediated hearing loss.
Email: [email protected]

Honors & awards

  • 2002 Teacher of the Year, Dept. of Otolaryngology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center
  • 2005-present Best Doctors
  • 2007 Outstanding Teacher Award, Northwell Health
  • 2008 Teacher of the Year, Dept. of Otolaryngology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center
  • 2009-present Castle Connolley Best Doctors
  • 2009 Service Award, American Academy of Otolaryngology HNS


  1. Vambutas, A., DeVoti, J., Goldofsky, E., Gordon, M., Lesser, M., Bonagura, V. “Alternate splicing of Interleukin-1 Receptor Type II (IL1R2) in vitro correlates with clinical glucocorticoid responsiveness in patients with AIED.” PLoS ONE, (4):e5293. Epub 2009 Apr 29
  2. Spivak, L., Auerbach, C., Vambutas, A., Geshkovich, S., Wexler, L., Popecki, B. “Electrical Compound Action Potentials Recorded with Automated Neural Response Telemetry: Threshold Changes as a Function of Time and Electrode Position.” Ear Hear Aug 4 2010 (epub ahead of print).
  3. Pathak, S., Goldofsky, E., Vivas, E., Bonagura, V., Vambutas, A. “Interleukin-1β is over-expressed and aberrantly regulated in corticosteroid non-responders with Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease.” J Immunol. 2011 Jan 3. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21199898 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
  4. Svrakic, M, Pathak, S, Goldofsky, E, Hoffman, R, Chandrasekhar, S, Sperling, N, Alexiades, G, Ashbach, M, Vambutas, A. “Diagnostic and prognostic utility of measuring TNF-α in the peripheral circulation of patients with immune-mediated sensorineural hearing loss.” Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Nov 1;138(11):1052-8. doi: