Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D., remembers the moment in medical school when he first saw the human vocal folds in action: a visiting professor delivered a lecture while holding a flexible laryngoscope inside his own throat. “It was the first time most of us had seen the vocal folds move within the voice box. I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Dr. Mau says. A choral baritone, he became captivated by the structure and mechanics of the larynx and the vocal folds.

Thinking about structure and mechanics already came naturally to him. The son of an engineer, Dr. Mau graduated from Harvard summa cum laude in biochemistry, then earned a Ph.D. in biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He attended Harvard Medical School for his M.D., then returned to UCSF for residency training in otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, winning three research prizes. After residency, Dr. Mau completed a fellowship at Vanderbilt University in laryngology and care of the professional voice. He joined UT Southwestern in 2008 as its first full-time voice specialist.

“I started out as a scientist in biophysics, studying the atomic structure of proteins,” Dr. Mau recalls. “When I switched gears into medicine, I maintained the biophysics way of thinking about things. The voice box is fascinating: this organ has moving parts, and nothing else in the body behaves like vocal fold tissue.”

Dr. Mau brings that scientific point of view to his practice. He not only cares for patients with a wide range of voice disorders but also pushes the frontiers of our understanding of the voice with his research and scholarly work. He has published multiple peer-reviewed papers on the structure and function of the vocal folds and the effects of therapeutic injections, among other topics. Dr. Mau also has written several book chapters covering various topics of otolaryngology. He serves as a peer reviewer in major journals in his field and has delivered lectures to fellow specialists on vocal fold injection and the care of the aging voice.

In 2010, Dr. Mau received a Young Faculty/Practitioner Award from the American Laryngological Association.

Meet Dr. Mau

Voice Care Specialist

Most of us take our voices for granted. But a bout of laryngitis – or a more serious laryngeal condition – can shock us out of complacency, making us realize what a gift it is to be able to speak comfortably and clearly. Voice loss can be very hard to cope with.

"As a former choir singer, I have a connection with patients, and I can talk to them on the same level. I have some understanding of where they’re coming from."

Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D., a specialist in voice care, understands the stakes. “We have a very direct attachment to our voice,” he says. “It's our primary mode of interaction and communication.”

Dr. Mau is a Professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Director of UTSW’s Clinical Center for Voice Care.

The Center serves patients who use their voices professionally, such as opera and rock singers, teachers, clergy, attorneys, and salespeople. Dr. Mau also cares for people whose voices have changed due to bowing of the vocal folds (vocal cords) with age, as well as those with voice tremor, vocal fold nodules and polyps, and vocal cord paralysis after surgery or infection.

The treatments Dr. Mau and his colleagues offer include microsurgery of the vocal folds, vocal fold injections, laryngeal framework surgery, and voice therapy. “Most patients come to the Clinical Center for Voice Care having already seen several other providers for the same problems,” he says. “There aren’t many physicians with specialized training in voice disorders.”

Because the workings of the voice box are still not completely understood, research is a large component of Dr. Mau’s work. He studies vocal fold biomechanics – that is, how the folds move and are positioned to generate the wide range of sounds we produce with our voices. He also conducts research into spasmodic dysphonia (a disorder in which the vocal folds move involuntarily, causing voice changes); the merits of different kinds of voice therapy; and whether a device that helps patients communicate can improve their quality of life after voice surgery.

Dr. Mau notes that while people can survive without the voice, having one is crucial to well-being. “The voice is something that’s very precious,” he says. “At the Clinical Center for Voice Care, we understand that connection, so we approach our patients with that understanding.”

In the News 

Listen to Dr. Mau talk about the larynx and how to avoid vocal strain.

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Education & Training
  • Medical School - Harvard Medical School (1998-2002)
  • Internship - University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (2002-2003), General Surgery
  • Residency - University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (2003-2007), Otolaryngology
  • Fellowship - Vanderbilt University Medical Center (2007-2008), Otolaryngology
  • Other Post Graduate Training - University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American Laryngological Association (2015)
  • Pan-American Vocology Association (2015)
  • The Triological Society (2012)
  • American Broncho-Esophagological Association (2011)
  • The Voice Foundation (2008)
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (2003)
Honors & Awards
  • American Laryngological Association Casselberry Award 2017
  • American Laryngological Association Young Faculty Award 2010
  • Henderson Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis in Biochemical Sciences, Harvard University 1992
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship 1992
  • Distinction in Teaching, Department of Mathematics, Harvard University 1991
  • John Harvard Scholarship 1990
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard College 1990
Books & Publications
  • Aging voice
  • Computer simulation of voice production and of laryngeal surgery
  • Electroglottography
  • Improved anesthesia for laryngeal framework surgeries
  • Injection laryngoplasty
  • Vocal fold biomechanics
  • Vocal fold paralysis
  • Voice and self-identity
  • Voice therapy adherence and effectiveness

Clinical Focus

  • Professional Voice Care
  • Larynx Related Voice Disorders
  • Airway Conditions
  • Voice Disorders
  • Swallowing Problems

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Q&A by Dr. Mau

State-of-the-Art Technology

Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D., performing a pulsed-KTP laser procedure on a patient's vocal folds

“The Voice: A Uniquely Human Instrument”

Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on voice disorders, offered a behind-the-scenes tour of the apparatus responsible for verbal communication.