Baran Sumer, M.D.

  • T.C. Lupton Family Professorship in Patient Care, in Honor of Dr. John Dowling McConnell and Dr. David Andrew Pistenmaa
  • Otolaryngology
  • Head & Neck Cancers
  • Transoral Robotic Surgery


Baran Sumer, M.D., is Professor and Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncology in UT Southwestern Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology, where he has served on the faculty since 2007. A specialist in head and neck cancer surgery and reconstruction, Dr. Sumer is also Director of the Head and Neck Oncology Disease Oriented Team at Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and holds the T.C. Lupton Family Professorship in Patient Care. He was also the inaugural Program Director for the Head and Neck Oncology and Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship.

Dr. Sumer earned his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University. He then completed an internship in general surgery, a residency in otolaryngology, and a fellowship in head and neck oncologic surgery and microvascular reconstruction at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Dr. Sumer serves on committees for NRG Oncology, the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS), the World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) and serves as a permanent member of the Innovations in Nanosystems and Nanotechnology (INN) study section for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Scientific Review.

He has participated in a wide variety of research studies devoted to advancing diagnostic and therapeutic techniques and technologies for head and neck cancer, such as fluorescent imaging, biosensing, hyperspectral imaging, photodynamic therapy, and image-guided surgery.

His collaboration with another UT Southwestern faculty member, Jinming Gao, Ph.D., has led to several inventions in their joint lab, including a pH-sensitive nanoparticle that can be used to deliver therapeutics and imaging agents specifically to cancers. Drs. Sumer and Gao's work with the pH nanosensor has resulted in a European phase 1 clinical trial, completed in 2019, and a phase 2 clinical trial in the U.S. for cancer patients with peritoneal metastases, completed in 2023.

The fluorescent nanoparticle they co-developed for these clinical trials illuminates cancer cells during surgery, potentially allowing surgeons to visualize the tumors more accurately. This nanoparticle, pegsitacianine (ONM100), is manufactured by OncoNano Medicine, a biotechnology company co-founded by Dr. Sumer and Dr. Gao.

Dr. Sumer is currently the PI of another phase 2 clinical trial, the ILLUMINATE trial, which is testing the ability of pegsitacianine to identify unknown primary cancers of the head and neck and to fluorescently label head and neck cancers undergoing robotic surgery. The ILLUMINATE trial is funded by a R01 grant from the NCI.

Dr. Sumer also serves as a reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals and is an editor for the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

Among numerous recognitions, honors, and awards, Dr. Sumer has been recognized as among the best otolaryngology physicians in North Texas by D Magazine. He is also the recipient of a Texas Instruments Corporate Award Research Gift, the Triological Society Francis Lederer FUSION Grant for Nanotechnology Research, and the SEBM Best Paper Award in the Alan MacDiarmid Interdisciplinary Research Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Dr. Sumer serves as principal investigator on several research projects funded by R01 awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and serves as co-PI on a project for the U54 i3 Center, led by Dr. Gao.

Meet Dr. Sumer

Head and Neck Cancer Specialist in Dallas

The head and neck have many critical blood vessels, nerves, and structures that affect appearance as well as key functions such as speaking and swallowing. Because of the skill required to treat cancers in this area, patients with head and neck cancer should seek experts with mastery of the most recent treatments.

Otolaryngologist Baran Sumer, M.D., leads a team of head and neck cancer experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center offering the latest therapies, including minimally invasive surgical techniques and targeted radiation and chemotherapy.

Thanks to the latest advances in robotic surgery, many head and neck cancers can be removed with minimal damage to healthy tissues.

“These procedures tend to be much better tolerated by patients than surgery in the past, which would often result in problems with swallowing and speech,” Dr. Sumer says. “We perform endoscopic and robotic procedures that allow us to go through the mouth, requiring no incisions on the outside of a patient’s neck or face.”

D Magazine Best Doctor, Dr. Sumer has a special focus on transoral robotic procedures (TORS) and laser procedures. Dr. Sumer made medical history in North Texas when he became the first surgeon in the region to perform a TORS procedure to remove a throat malignancy. A multi-year, multi-institutional study, E3311, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2022, has shown that TORS can safely reduce the amount of chemotherapy and radiation for patients with resectable p16+ locally advanced oropharynx cancer.

Comprehensive, multidisciplinary care

In addition to surgical, radiation, and medical oncologists, UT Southwestern’s head and neck cancer team includes plastic reconstructive surgeons, speech pathologists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, nutritionists, and physical and occupational therapists.

“Physicians do play an important role in the treatment of head and neck cancer,” Dr. Sumer says, “but it’s the multidisciplinary care, counseling, and rehabilitation our team offers that ultimately allow patients to achieve the best quality of life.” 

The benefits of this collaborative approach to treatment of these complex cancers are seen every day at UT Southwestern.

“We’ve had patients who were told by other physicians that they would need their entire tongues removed, or that they would need a hole in their neck to breathe through for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Sumer says. “We were able to cure their malignancies and preserve their swallowing and speech. You can imagine how important that is, not only for people whose livelihoods involve speaking, but for everyday activities that we otherwise tend to take for granted.

“I have had many patients return to thank me, saying, ‘I can go out to restaurants and enjoy eating dinner in public with my family and friends.’ That's a very rewarding feeling.”

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Education & Training
  • Fellowship - Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (2006-2007), Head & Neck Oncologic Surgery
  • Residency - Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (2002-2006), Otolaryngology
  • Internship - Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (2001-2002), General Surgery
  • Medical School - Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1997-2001)
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • Texas Medical Association
  • American Head and Neck Society
  • American College of Surgeons
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery
Honors & Awards
  • AAO-HNSF 2019 Annual Meeting 2019, Honorary Guest Lecture: H. Bryan Neel III MD, PhD Distinguished Research
  • Winner Lloyd Storrs Resident Award (Mentor) 2015, Teaching
  • Alan MacDiarmid Interdisciplinary Research- Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 2014
  • Triological Society Francis Lederer 2011, FUSION Grant for Nanotechnology Research
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Department of Clinical Sciences 2008, Research Grant
  • Texas Instruments Corporate Award 2008, Research Grant
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 2008, Research Award
Books & Publications
  • Nanotechnology
  • Cancer metabolism
  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Image-guided surgery
  • Cancer imaging

Clinical Focus

  • Head & Neck Cancers
  • Transoral Robotic Surgery
  • Surgical Treatment of Head & Neck Cancers
  • Transoral Laser Surgery
  • Surgical Treatment of Benign Head & Neck Conditions
  • Medical Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer
  • Skull Base Surgery

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Q&A by Dr. Sumer