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about a month to fully recover. “That’s more than a year-and-a-half ago, and my check-ups show I’ve had no recurrence,” he says. A college basketball player and sports-radio announcer in his younger days, Hicker boasts that his voice is stronger now than it was before the treatment. THE VOICE CENTER IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST CLINICAL TREATMENT. There also is a large research component to the work done there. The center’s physicians attract numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, as well as gifts from private philanthropy. In one research project, Dr. Long has spent five years researching how to use adipose-derived stem cells to grow tissue for vocal-cord replacement. And Dr. Mendelsohn, a fellowship-trained specialist in transoral robotic surgery and laser microsurgery, notes that the center incorporates national clinical trials for his throat-cancer patients, the first such trials in many decades. The center’s research programs help develop treatments that are less invasive and more effective for patients, Dr. Chhetri says. “This center is unmatched in its combination of clinical care and research to advance the knowledge of these disorders, making a huge difference in patients’ quality of life,” he states. “Our work is more than just medical care to help people make sound; it also is about the way we form sounds to make words,” Dr. Berke says. But “words mean more than what is set down on paper,” he continues, quoting from the poet and author Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. “It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning.” Thus, the voice is at the very core of our gift to communicate. It is in essence what makes us human, and Dr. Berke’s mission and that of the center he founded is to preserve that humanity by returning a lost gift to its rightful owners. Dr. Abie Mendelsohn examines patient George Hicker, who underwent robotic surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his throat. It’s been more than 18 months since the surgery, “and my check-ups show I’ve had no recurrence,” Hicker says. Bay Area freelance journalist Joan Voight’s articles, blog posts and columns have been published in Wired, Adweek and on CNBC and CBS Interactive websites. To learn more about the UCLA Voice Center for Medicine and the Arts, visit: U MAGAZINE 25