FEZANA Spring Issue 2018: Emerging Leader Daryush Mehta
DARYUSH MEHTA, CAMBRIDGE, MA (35-45 YRS)
Daryush has a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a PhD in Speech & Hearing, Bioscience, and Technology from MIT. He has received several awards from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and won the Hamdan International Presenter
Award at the 45th Annual Symposium of The Voice Foundation: Care of the Professional Voice.
Motivation, Leadership & Aspirations: “What motivates me to do clinical voice research is the opportunity to build state-of-the-art technology and perform cutting-edge science to help patients suffering from a loss of one of their most vital organs, their voice. The mission of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Voice Center is to help treat and rehabilitate those who experience problems with using their voice on a daily basis. My biomedical engineering background has led me into investigating the human condition of voice disorders. My goal is to aid voice surgeons and speech-language pathologists in better understanding the mechanisms of normal and disordered-voice production to enhance the precision of surgical procedures and improve the management and treatment of human voice disorders.
I gravitated to being a clinical research scientist in an academic hospital setting through my interests in music performance (classical clarinet and jazz saxophone). Music, sounds, and speech are all around, and I have always been curious about how the sounds of language are understood by people and now, more and more, interpreted by machines.
As an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Voice Science and Technology Laboratory at the MGH Voice Center I regularly publish and present research from our team to scientific communities around the world.
I am a Principal Investigator on multiple research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and train the next generation of clinical researchers in the area of voice and speech science. I help lead collaborations with international scientists and am often invited to give lectures and presentations to national and international audiences. I would like to help develop consumer facing technologies that interact with humans on a daily basis to provide personalized health information that they can act on themselves, toward an age of personalized medicine.
I am the Zoroastrian representative as part of the boards of multi faith chaplains at Harvard and MIT. My predecessor, Dr. Cyrus Mehta, the first Zoroastrian Chaplain on these campuses, asked me to take on the Zoroastrian Chaplain role after I graduated from MIT. My main role is to lead interfaith dialogue and service projects on campus.
As a student at MIT, I helped co-found the Zoroastrian Students of Boston (ZSB), was the Youth Liaison to Zoroastrian Association of the Greater Boston Area, and helped co-lead and organize a local Gatha Study Group. I continue to serve as liaison to the youth and students who move to the area and work with ZAGBA to put on fun service projects for the community.
I hope to continue to provide mentorship and leadership as a representative of the Zoroastrian faith on college campuses and in the local community. My goal is to strike that delicate balance between being local and ‘on the ground’ and broadening my capacity to serve national and international outreach efforts. Academically, I see myself in important leadership roles in the academic research community to train research scientists and collaborate with the best engineers in the public and private sectors.”
What makes you tick and steps you would take to enable you to attain your leadership ambitions? “I see my experience and skill set – at the nexus of medicine, engineering, healthcare, and science – as my strongest attribute. I am a trained speech and hearing scientist and electrical engineer specializing in interdisciplinary research for clinical voice and speech assessment. I play significant research roles in multiyear NIH-funded projects and have established independent lines of investigation through funding from multiple sources. My principle scientific contributions are investigations into the clinical efficacy of high-speed imaging and wearable sensors with an emphasis on voice disorder assessment through a detailed characterization of voice physiology. The overall goal of these lines of research is to guide future development of improved voice surgery techniques and voice therapy paradigms with clinically relevant imaging and noninvasive, ambulatory sensors.
I actively collaborate with international colleagues to produce several publications spanning engineering, medical, and scientific disciplines. I currently focus on translating three-dimensional vocal fold imaging technologies to clinical practice and leading the design and development of a smartphone-based ambulatory voice monitor to study behaviorally based voice disorders. In 2015, I received the prestigious Award for Early Career Contributions in Research presented by ASHA that recognizes outstanding early stage investigators. I strive to conduct high-quality clinical and basic research, to teach and mentor the next generation, and to collaborate with the best scientists and engineers in the field of clinical voice and speech assessment. Through my lecturing, written work, and involvementwith professional societies, I seek to improve clinical care for patients who have been diagnosed with voice andspeech disorders.”