Howard P. House, 1908-2003

Aug 13, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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Howard Payne House, M.D., founder of the House Ear Institute (HEI) and pioneering ear specialist, died from heart failure at St. Vincent Medical Center; he was 95 years old. House established HEI in 1946 as a research facility dedicated to the advancement of hearing research and practiced otology at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles. During his 64-year medical career, House treated thousands of patients, including some of Hollywood's brightest stars including Howard Hughes, Bob and Dolores Hope, Nanette Fabray, Phyllis Diller, Florence Henderson and former President Ronald Reagan.

"It is an overwhelming loss for many who found in him a mentor to guide them in their clinical and applied research," said James D. Boswell, CEO of the House Ear Institute. "By establishing an international ear research and education center, Howard provided thousands of ear specialists around the world with the opportunity to attend unique surgical courses and benefit from the Institute's research achievements."

"Dr. Howard House is an outstanding example of what has made America great," read a tribute written by former President Ronald Reagan. "Our country is so full of wonderful men and women who, like him, through diligent effort and creative drive, have made a tremendous difference in our world and brought to pass amazing scientific discoveries that have helped countless people everywhere."

A graduate of University of Southern California Medical School, House perfected the wire loop technique to replace the stapes bone of the middle ear and developed procedures to reconstruct middle ear parts. Under his leadership, HEI was the first to adapt movie cameras and accessories for use with a surgical microscope to create professional, medical training films. In 1947, he was appointed chairman of the Subcommittee on Noise and directed the national study on industrial noise that set the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hearing-conservation standards in use today. House was head of the Department of Otolaryngology at University of Southern California School of Medicine from 1952 to 1961 and served on the faculty as clinical professor of otology.

House is survived by his sons, Kenneth M. House, M.D.; John W. House, M.D.; daughter Carolyn Helmuth; brothers William F. House, M.D. (pioneer of neurotology and the cochlear implant) and James House, D.D.S.; and nine grandchildren. A memorial service for House is planned, but no details are available at this time. Memorials may be made to further the research and education that was House's work. Contributions can be made to the Howard P. House, M.D., Endowment Fund at the House Ear Institute, Development Office, 2100 West Third St., Fifth Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90057-1922.

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