Ivan El-Sayed, MD

Ivan El-Sayed, MD

Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, UCSF

Phone: (415) 353-2757 (appts)
Box 0342, UCSF
San Francisco, CA 94143-0342

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Cancer Center Membership

Associate Member » Non-aligned

Research Summary

Ivan H. El-Sayed, MD, is Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology and the Director of the Otolaryngology Minimally Invasive Skill Base Surgery program and center in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) at the University of California, San Francisco. As of 2015, he has been elected to the North American Skull Base Society Directors Board, and he is recently named the Vice Chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Skull Base Committee. He has also been the Co-Course Director for Stryker-UCSF Resident Skull Base Approaches Course since 2009. Dr. El-Sayed completed his medical degree and internship from Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts. He completed his otolaryngology residency from Boston University, followed by a head and neck surgical oncology fellowship from UCSF. He lectures nationally and internationally on various topics related to head and neck oncology.

Dr. El-Sayed’s clinical focus is skull base surgery and he has developed the minimally invasive program into a nationally recognized program along with his neurosurgical colleagues. The program and center offers a unique capability of providing both endoscopic and open approaches to tailor the approach to the lesion. He has a broad surgical experience having performed over 500 surgical procedures on tumors of the nasal cavity/paranasal sinuses, infratemporal fossa, skull base and pituitary glands in over a decade of experience. He is also interested in the outcomes of research and clinical innovations through novel approach development. His research program goal is to develop 1) novel endoscopic surgical approaches and 2) nanotechnologies as multifunctional theranostic devices for the detection, destruction, and monitoring of oral cancer.

Dr. El-Sayed has published as first or senior author on topics in literature including skull base repair, endoscopic approaches to the maxilla and infratemporal fossa, surgical planning and approaches to the clivus and craniovertebral junction, as well as lesions of the clivus and sella. He is a reviewer for a variety of scientific journals, and he has contributed to over 50 peer-reviewed articles, 10 book chapters, and 2 patents. As of 2015, his work has been cited over 11,000 times in the literature.


Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgery, Salivary Gland Surgery, Sinus Surgery and Rhinology (tumors)


Skull base malignancy, oral cancer, paranasal sinus tumors, parapharyngeal space tumors (schwannomas, carotid body tumor, paraganglioma), oral cancer, parotid gland cancer, advanced skin cancers, tumors of the paranasal sinuses, nasopharynx, clivus, and endoscopic surgery

Professional Interests:

Oral cancer, tumors of the salivary gland, neck and jaw and skull base surgery. Skull base surgery is a branch of head and neck oncology. Dr. El-Sayed’s research interests is in developing, techniques to treat oral cancer with nanotechnology and minimally invasive surgical approaches to remove tumors from complex anatomic regions in the skull base which include the parotid gland, the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, the parapharyngeal space and infratemporal fossa (which includes mandibular tumors, salivary tumors, schwannomas, carotid body tumor, paragangliomas etc). A variety of tumors occur in the nasal cavity that may require endoscopic surgery or an open surgical approach such as sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic cancer, esthesioneuroblastoma, sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma, chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, sinonasal melanoma, recurrent nasopharynx cancers, and others. Several nonmalignant tumors occur in this area that are amenable to endoscopic resections such as juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma and inverted papilloma. Dr. El-Sayed frequently cares for patients requiring multidisciplinary teams such as otologic surgery for tumors involving the temporal bone, and neurological surgery for tumors crossing into the intracranial cavity. Dr. El-Sayed also is expert in closure of defects of the skull base (CSF leaks)

Education and Training:

• Medical School: Boston University School of Medicine, MA

• Internship: Boston Medical Center, MA

• Residency: Boston Medical Center, MA - Otolaryngology

• Fellowship: University California San Francisco, CA - Head and Neck Surgical Oncology

Awards and Honors:

• 1995 Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.

• 2002 U.S. Patent Office - Spectroscopic Diagnostics for Bacteria in Biologic Samples

• 2003 University of California, San Francisco Medical Center - Thanks Star Award

• 2007 Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, San Francisco - Outstanding Productive Physician and Surgeon, Certificate of Accomplishment

• 2007 ScienceWatch- Number 1 cited article in entire field of chemistry. . J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Feb 15;128(6):2115-2120.

• 2007 Most Accessed Article for the 3rd quarter of 2007 for article, American Chemical Society Publications

• 2007 Hot Paper- Nano Lett. 2005.

• 2008 Most Accessed Article for first quarter 2008. J. Phys. Chem. B., 2006.

• 2008 Editor Seleced Paper. Bioconjug Chem. 2007 Sep-Oct;18(5):1490-7.

• 2008 Most Cited Author. Top 20 articles cited in Cancer Letters for 2007. Cancer Letters. 2006 Jul 28;239(1):129-35.

• 2009 Top 25 Hottest Articles Cancer Letters in 2008- 2009: #14. Cancer Letters, Volume 269, Issue 1, September 2008, Pages 57-66

• 2009 UCSF Academy of Medical Educators - Excellence In Teaching

• 2010 Guangzhou Medical University - Honorary Professor

• 2010-2014 Castle Connolly - America's Top Doctors

• 2012 Number 1 Cited Paper from 2007 through May 2012. NanoToday.

• 2011-2014 Marine Magazine - 415 Top Doctors

• 2015 Director’s Board-North American Skull Base Society

• 2015-2017 Vice Chair American Academy Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Skull Base Committee.


Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, Sc. B, 1992, Neuroscience
Boston University Medical School, Boston, MA, M.D., 1992-1996, Medicine
Boston University Medical Ctr, Boston, MA, 1996-2001, Otolaryngology-HNS
University of California, San Francisco, Postdoctoral, 2002-2003, Head and Neck Oncology-Fellowship

Professional Experience

  • 1996-1997
    Intern, Boston University Medical Center, Worcester, MA
  • 1997-2001
    Resident in Otolaryngology, Boston Univeristy Medical Center, Worcester, MA
  • 2001-2002
    Staff Physician, Fallon Clinic Department of Otolaryngology
  • 2002-2003
    Fellow, Department of Otolaryngology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2002-2003
    Clinical Instructor, Department of Otolaryngology, UCSF
  • 2004-2009
    Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, UCSF
  • 2009-present
    Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, UCSF

Honors & Awards

  • 1995
    Member, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society
  • 1998
    First Place: Ethics of Cochlear Implantation in Young Children, New England Otolaryngology Society
  • 2002
    U.S. Patent: Spectroscopic Diagnostics for Bacteria in Biologic Samples. Ivan El-Sayed, MD and Mostafa El-Sayed, PhD
  • 2002-2012
    Board Certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology
  • 2003
    THANKS Star Award, UCSF Medical Center
  • 2005
    "Quality Award" UCSF Medical Center Quality Improvement Office. For: Altered Airway PI Project. Member of the committee which developed this form.
  • 2007
    U.S. Patent: GTRC 3424 U.S.S.N. 11/913,915 "Shape Tunable Plasmonic Nanoparticles" Mostafa A. El-Sayed and Ivan Homer El-Sayed (Provisional Patent Filed 2005)
  • 2007
    "Hot Paper", American Chemical Society Publications, first author. [As defined by the ACS: "Hot Papers are articles published within the last two years receiving the most citations over the most recent two-month period. In a typical two-month period, Essential Science Indicators recognizes more than 200 total Hot Papers in chemistry.] For Article: Surface Plasmon Resonance Scattering and Absorption of anti-EGFR Antibody Conjugated Gold Nanoparticles in Cancer Diagnostics: Applications in Oral Cancer. Nano Lett. 2005.
  • 2007
    Outstanding Productive Physician and Surgeon, Certificate of Accomplishment, Department of Otolaryngology, UCSF
  • 2007
    "Most Accessed Article" for the 3rd quarter of 2007, American Chemical Society Publications. For article: "Gold Nanorods for Nuclear Targeting. BioconjugChemistry 2007.
  • 2008
    "Most Accessed Article" for first quarter 2008, American Chemical Society Publications: For article: Calculated Absorption and Scattering Properties of Gold Nanoparticles of Different Size, Shape, and Composition: Applications in Biological Imaging and Biomedicine. J. Phys. Chem. B.; (Article); 2006
  • 2008
    "Editor Selected Papers in Imaging"- Bioconjugate Chemistry- For Article: Peptide-Conjugated Gold Nanorods for Nuclear Targeting. Bioconjug Chem. 2007 Sep-Oct;18(5):1490-7. Epub 2007 Jul 13.
  • 2008
    #1 ranked article in citations in the field of Chemistry for 2007. Described by ScienceWatch. For article: 14. Huang X, El-Sayed IH, Qian W, El-Sayed MA. Cancer Cell Imaging and Photothermal Therapy in the Near-Infrared Region by Using Gold Nanorods. J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Feb 15;128(6):2115-2120.
  • 2008
    "Hot Paper", American Chemical Society Publications. For article: Cancer cell imaging and photothermal therapy in the near-infrared region by using gold nanorods, J Am Chem Soc 2006.
  • 2008
    "Most Cited Author"- First author- recognized as one of the top 20 cited papers in Cancer Letters toward the calculation of the 2007 impact factor. Cancer Letters. 2006 Jul 28;239(1):129-35.

Selected Publications

  1. Combined Endonasal-Transcervical Approach to a Metastatic Parapharyngeal Space Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. Cureus. 2015 Jul; 7(7):e285.
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  2. The endonasal endoscopic harvest and anatomy of the buccal fat pad flap for closure of skull base defects. Laryngoscope. 2015 Oct; 125(10):2247-52.
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  3. Factors predicting recurrence after resection of clival chordoma using variable surgical approaches and radiation modalities. Neurosurgery. 2015 Feb; 76(2):179-86.
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  4. Sinonasal morbidity following endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2015 Mar; 130:162-7.
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  5. Risk factors for postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak and meningitis after expanded endoscopic endonasal surgery. J Clin Neurosci. 2015 Jan; 22(1):48-54.
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  6. Gangliogliomas of the optic pathway. J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Dec; 21(12):2244-9.
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  7. Pigmented villonodular synovitis of the temporomandibular joint with intracranial extension: A case series and systematic review. Head Neck. 2015 Aug; 37(8):1213-24.
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  8. Risk factors for cerebrospinal leak after endoscopic skull base reconstruction with nasoseptal flap. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014 Sep; 151(3):516-21.
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  9. Multidisciplinary management of advanced Basal cell carcinoma: report of four cases. J Drugs Dermatol. 2014 May; 13(5):601-6.
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  10. Panostotic expansile bone disease with massive jaw tumor formation and a novel mutation in the signal peptide of RANK. J Bone Miner Res. 2014 Apr; 29(4):911-21.
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  11. Impact of platybasia and anatomic variance on surgical approaches to the craniovertebral junction. Laryngoscope. 2014 Aug; 124(8):1760-6.
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  12. National trends in surgery for sinonasal malignancy and the effect of hospital volume on short-term outcomes. Laryngoscope. 2014 Jul; 124(7):1609-14.
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  13. Extended endoscopic endonasal approach for suprasellar Rathke's cleft cysts. J Clin Neurosci. 2014 May; 21(5):779-85.
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  14. Endoscopic surgery for tuberculum sellae meningiomas: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurosurg Rev. 2013 Jul; 36(3):349-59.
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  15. Subacute cystic expansion of intracranial juvenile psammomatoid ossifying fibroma. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2013 Jun; 11(6):687-91.
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  16. Microfluidic validation of diagnostic protein markers for spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea. J Proteome Res. 2013 Mar 1; 12(3):1254-65.
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  17. The prognostic implications of Hyam's subtype for patients with Kadish stage C esthesioneuroblastoma. J Clin Neurosci. 2013 Feb; 20(2):281-6.
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  18. Skull base chordomas: clinical features, prognostic factors, and therapeutics. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2013 Jan; 24(1):79-88.
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  19. Minimally invasive approaches to the anterior skull base. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2013 Jan; 24(1):19-37.
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  20. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of acute invasive fungal sinusitis. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Oct; 137(10):1005-10.
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