Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Announces New Surgeon-in-Chief

For release: February 1, 2022 

Karthik Balakrishnan, MD, MPH

STANFORD, Calif. – Renowned pediatric otolaryngologist Karthik Balakrishnan, MD, MPH, has been appointed as the new surgeon-in-chief at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. 

Dr. Balakrishnan specializes in otolaryngology, caring for children with complex disorders of breathing, voice, and swallowing. He is an expert in complex surgical reconstruction of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe), innovative approaches to pediatric airway reconstruction, and vascular anomalies of the head and neck.

He joined the Stanford Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford faculty as associate professor in early 2020. In addition, he took on the role of medical director for surgical performance improvement—a key indicator in the hospital’s recent American College of Surgeons (ACS) pediatric surgical verification. He also serves in several other leadership roles in Stanford Medicine, including co-chair of the Teamwork Advisory Council, co-lead for the Otolaryngology Department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program, and American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Pediatric Surgeon Champion.

Dr. Balakrishnan follows James Dunn, MD, PhD, after five incredibly successful years in the surgeon-in-chief position. Dr. Dunn will remain as the Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery, focusing on his bioengineering research as well as surgical care for children at Stanford.

“While his accomplishments were numerous, I want to recognize James for his leadership in opening our state-of-the-art Bonnie Uytengsu and Family Surgery and Interventional Center in 2018, growing our surgical services at John Muir Health, and becoming verified as a Level 1 pediatric surgical center by the ACS for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford,” says Dennis Lund, MD, chief medical officer of Stanford Children’s Health. “We greatly appreciate all of James’ fantastic work.”

Dr. Balakrishnan will start his new role February 1, 2022.

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About Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. Along with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine, we are part of Stanford Medicine, an ecosystem harnessing the potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education, and clinical care to improve health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at