Faculty Profile

Dr. Robert J. Ruben, M.D.

Robert J. Ruben, M.D.

Distinguished University Professor, Department of Otorhinolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery

Distinguished University Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Director, Clinical Research Center for Communicative Disorders

Areas of Research: I have two main areas of research. The first is the history of medicine in general and more specifically otolaryngology, voice, speech, language, and deafness. The second area is personalized medicine apply to otolaryngology.

Professional Interests

Dr. Ruben is the Distinguished University Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Montefiore Medical Center.


He was born in New York City on August 2nd 1933. He had his primary and secondary education in the public schools and was the recipient of an honorable mention in The Westinghouse Science Talent Search for is isolation of   a mutant strain of mice with audiogenic seizures. He attended Princeton University and graduate maga cum laude in1955. At Princeton he had the good fortune of having Ernest Glen Weaver as his advisor. In Weaver’s laboratory he participated in fundamental comparative auditory physiological studies. Following Princeton, he went to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and remained there for his residency in Otolaryngology under the direction of Professor John Bordley. Among his teachers and friends at Hopkins were Stacey Guild, PhD, Gabriel F. Tucker Jr. MD and Francis Catlin, MD.


During his last year as a medical student and his five years of residency he was the director of the auditory   physiology laboratory. Amongst the research fellows who were trained and participated in Dr, Ruben’s  laboratory were Jan Sekula of  Krakow Poland, Dirian Mikellian, Hugo Fisch of Zurich Switzerland, Booby Alford , William Hudson , Charles Berlin  and others.


Dr. Rubens initial work in the use of genetic models to understand the physiology and pathological anatomy of inner ear hearing loss provided the early scientific bases for the current work for genetics of deafness.  Successfully applying laboratory physiological techniques to the clinical problems of recording the electrical activity of the cochlea and eight nerves in humans, he was the first to record the human eighth nerve action potential, and the first to record the physiological functions of the inner ear in humans.


Following his residency he became a research associate at the NIH. He perceived that much of the understanding and eventual treatment of   inner ear deafness would come about from the knowledge of the developmental cell biology of the inner ear.  Working in the laboratory of A. J. Columbre PhD he carried out the studies of the terminal mitosis of the inner ear   which were the basis fro his now classic monograph - Ruben RJ.  Development of the inner ear of the mouse: a radioautographic study of terminal mitoses.  Acta Otolaryngol [Stockh] 1967; Suppl 220:1 44.


Following NIH he went to New York City and working with Thomas van de Water PhD established the first techniques, in 1970, for organ culture of the mammalian inner ear – now a basic technique for much of the cell biology of the inner ear.  During the next three decades he published numerous studies contributing to the understanding of the normal and abnormal development of the inner ear.


Believing in the need and challenge for increased resources for research in communication disorders, Dr. Ruben organized a special conference, in 1987, held in Denmark to address the question of research opportunities for communication disorders.  The report from this conference became the basis for establishing a new institute at NIH, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), in 1989.  Since then, Dr. Ruben has been a leading Congressional advocate for the institute, providing testimony to pertinent committees and working with Members of Congress.


Through his scientific work, Dr. Ruben came to recognize that the otorhinological problems of children require a special focus that would be most appropriately served by the creation of a separate discipline; he joined with colleges from Europe and North America to found the specialty of Pediatric Otolaryngology.  He was the founding president of the Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children, founder of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology and the Section of Otorhinolaryngology and Broncoesphogology of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  He founded the first scientific journal devoted to pediatric otolaryngology in 1978, the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, of which he serves as Editor-in-Chief. He has numerous publications in the field with a special emphasis on the use of language as metric and as an outcome measure for medical/ surgical interventions


Dr. Ruben's contributions have been well recognized by his peers, as evidenced by the numerous awards he has received, including the Edmund Prince Fowler award of the American Laryngological, Rhinological, and Otological Society; Gold Medal Ninth World Congress on Otolaryngology for the film Extracorporal Growth of the Inner Ear; Schrelber Gold Medal of the National Association of the Deaf; Society Scholars of Johns Hopkins University; Member Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitae Sacrum (CORLAS); George Shambaugh Award of CORLAS; Award of Merit  of the American Otological Society;  Honorary Professor to the Beijing Institute of Otolaryngology; Honorary Member of the Polish Otolaryngology Society; guest of honor at various ORL societies worldwide; President of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology; President of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology; President of the Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Advances in Children; and Director of the American Board of Otolaryngology.


Ruben has been an ardent student and collector of artists' books for more than twenty-five years, and an exhibition of his artists' books, "Beyond the Text", was held at Adelphi University and was an invited speaker at the 2005 Wellesley College Artist Book Conference. He is a member of the Grolier Club - http://www.grolierclub.org/ and presently he is a member of the Grolier council and chairperson of the Committee   for Public Exhibitions. At the Grolier he has been the curator three exhibitions of his collections which were Hear, Hear! Six Centuries of Otology in 2002 all which detailed the history of otology; Beyond the Text: Artist Books in the Collection of Robert J Ruben the catalog was written by Yvonne Korshak and Robert J Ruben in 2010, which was a sampling of his collection of artist books. This exhibition traveled to Burlington Vermont, San Francisco California, and to Lyon France in the museum of the history of printing. His latest exhibition was entitled Extraordinary Women in Sciences and Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement which was curated in collaboration with Ronald Smeltzer PhD and Paulette Rose PhD in 2013. This exhibition had more than 2000 visitors and will be further extended as a series of books for middle school, various websites, and travel to other cities in the United States and Europe. He is a member of the council and has served for four years as Chairperson of the Friends of the Princeton University Library - http://www.fpul.org/ - and is presently the President of the Center for Book Arts -   http://www.centerforbookarts.org/.

He has been a student an active scholar in the area of history of medicine since his first year in medical school.  This has resulted in numerous historical publications and he is presently the Chairperson of the Section of History of Medicine and Public Health at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Selected Publications

More than 250 - see PubMed

Research Images

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Montefiore Medical Center
3415 Bainbridge Avenue
Bronx, NY 10467

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Research Information