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Focus on Jay F. Piccirillo, MD, FACS

Dr. Piccirillo is a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. He treats general ear, nose and throat problems, while specializing in the treatment of sinus disease, sleep apnea and snoring.

Dr. Piccirillo sees patients at the Center for Advanced Medicine and the West County Office.


Dr. Piccirillo, what happened in the course of schooling to make you choose your specialty?

In one way, my selection of otolaryngology was by luck. In my third year of medical school, a good friend suggested that I take a rotation with him in otolaryngology. I was originally signed up to take orthopedics and anesthesiology, but I hadn’t settled on a specialty yet.

After completing the rotation, I found that I really enjoyed the variety of patients treated by this specialty — adults and children, males and females. It also offered a diverse range of medical challenges such as tumors, trauma, infectious diseases, and congenital abnormalities. Otolaryngology also interests me because so many of my own medical problems involve the ear, nose, and throat area. As soon as I finished that third-year rotation, I knew I wanted to specialize in otolaryngology.

What brought you to Washington University?

Dr. Piccirillo and family

After completing my fellowship in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, I was recruited by several universities. When I visited Washington University I was so impressed with the people, faculty members, buildings and infrastructure that I knew Washington University was the right place for me. My wife and I visited several more times and agreed that St. Louis would be a great place to live and raise our family.

Which aspect of your practice is most interesting?

I enjoy all aspects of my practice. Sleep apnea is a very interesting part of my practice. In conjunction with the physicians of the Sleep Medicine Center, I am learning so much more about sleep medicine than what I knew from just the otolaryngology perspective. There are many new developments in this area of medicine. For example, in the near future, we expect to offer our patients a new surgical treatment for sleep apnea and snoring.

Where did you receive your training?

I am originally from New York and attended east coast schools. My medical school training was in Vermont, my residency training in New York, and I completed my research fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut.

Which particular award or achievement is the most gratifying to you?

The Best Doctors in America awards are significant to me because recipients are chosen by other physicians who answer the question, “To whom would you send your family member?” Being recognized by your peers is very gratifying. (Dr. Piccirillo has been included in the America's Top Doctors and Best Doctors in America lists since 2002.)

Receiving the Distinguished Teacher’s Award from the medical students is also very important to me because it recognizes and validates my work as a teacher at Washington University School of Medicine.

What do you do when you are not working?

My wife and I have three children, Marilyn, Jeff, and Greg, ages 14, 11 and 10. Basically, I spend time with my family when I am not working. We like to take our children on trips to visit different places around the country. Last year we went to Williamsburg, Virginia to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Monticello.

I also like to cook. Marilyn introduced me to baking yeast breads and this is an activity that she and I do together. Greg and I have taken several father/son culinary courses together. We prepare the Sunday night meals for the family and try to use vegetables from our garden, along with our baked goods. My favorite foods to cook and eat are Italian and French. Greg prefers Asian and Mexican cooking, so our family gets to sample a wide range of cooking styles.

Jeff and I like to play pool together and throw darts.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

When I was working on my clinical research fellowship, I wasn’t sure if what I was learning would be valuable in my career. I called a senior faculty member at Washington University who assured me that even though 95% of the practicing otolaryngologists wouldn’t understand what I was studying, the remaining 5% would understand and those were the ones who mattered.

What lifestyle change could most benefit our health?

Drink more water to keep your sinuses well-hydrated and healthy.

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Copyright 2015 Washington University School of Medicine