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Joy Reidenberg

  • PROFESSOR Medical Education
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  • 2007 -
    Scholarly Achievement Award
    Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  • 2005 -
    Pre-Clinical Teaching Award
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  • 2003 -
    Excellence in Teaching Award
    Institute for Medical Education, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  • 1999 -
    Basmajian/Williams and Wilkins Award
    American Association of Anatomists

  • 1998 -
    Recognition of Excellence in Science Communication
    World Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

  • 1993 -
    Excellence in Science Communication Award
    Society for Marine Mammalogy

  • 1989 -
    Outstanding Doctorial Dissertation Award
    Mount Sinai Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences


Comparative anatomy of the upper respiratory tract in a wide range of mammals

Research in this laboratory examines the comparative anatomy, development, and evolution of the mammalian upper respiratory tract, particularly factors that may affect breathing, swallowing, and vocalizing abilities, or clinical disorders.

Our research focuses on upper respiratory tract anatomy in a wide range of mammals, with particular emphasis on cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Cetaceans are studied as a "natural experiment" to understand the evolutionary forces selecting for a highly modified upper respiratory tract adapted for an aquatic existence. Our current project is developing an atlas of mysticete (baleen whale) anatomy. As an extension of this interest, investigations are in progress to examine the controversial role of the cetacean larynx in sound production for communication or echolocation. Techniques include comparative dissection (including fieldwork at site of beach-stranded whale), histology, and imaging by CT or MRI. Our important findings in comparative anatomy include:

  • discovery of a vocal fold homolog in whales previously thought to lack this,
  • identification of the lack of posterior protection of the human larynx compared with other mammals and resulting exposure of the airway to incursions from the digestive tract,
  • use of MRI and CT scans to appreciate hyo-laryngeal positional asymmetries in toothed whales that correlate with functional and behavioral asymmetries,
  • impact of slow vs. sudden pressure changes on tissues of the respiratory tract in diving mammals.
  • New insights into the origin of human clinico-pathologies related to the upper respiratory tract include defining the lack of posterior laryngeal protection from gastric juices as the major anatomical cause of respiratory tract insult secondary to Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

    Future directions we would like to take our research program include:

  • Comparative Anatomy: Investigate and compare respiratory tissue response to pressure change from natural (diving) and artificial (explosion) causes. Explore sound production/transfer mechanisms by aquatic mammals in air vs. water.
  • Development: Elucidate temporal/spatial relationships of branchial arches and the controlling genes to understand normal and pathological development of skull/soft tissue relationships.
  • Human Clinico-Pathologies: Examine animals exhibiting posterior laryngeal protection (e.g., ruminants), create a similar artificial barrier (surgical or prosthesis), and develop an animal model of Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in which to test this barrier. If model is successful, further develop in collaboration with surgeons for human patients with GERD.
  • Evolution: Reconstruct evolutionary trajectories of hominid aerodigestive tract.
  • Publications

    Balboni AL, Bergemann AD, Reidenberg JS, Laitman JT. Tuberculosis induced changes to the osseous cranial base and its potential effect on hearing. Anat Rec 2008; 291(5): 488-490.

    Reidenberg JS. Anatomical Adaptations of Aquatic Mammals. Anat Rec 2007; 290: 507-513.

    Reidenberg JS, Laitman JT. Blowing Bubbles: An Aquatic Adaptation That Risks Protection of the Respiratory Tract in Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Anat Rec 2007; 290: 569-580.

    Reidenberg JS, Laitman JT. Discovery of a low frequency sound source in Mysticeti (baleen whales): Anatomical establishment of a vocal fold . Homolog Anat Rec 2007; 290: 745-760.

    MacLeod CD, Reidenberg JS, Weller M, Santos MB, Herman J, Goold J, Pierce GJ. Breaking symmetry: the marine environment, prey size, and the evolution of asymmetry in cetacean skulls. Anat. Rec 2007; 290: 539-545.

    Berta AT, Dawson SD, Reidenberg JS. Evolution of Hyperphalangy and Digit Reduction in the Cetacean Manus. Anat. Rec 2007; 290: 654-672.

    Cooper LN, Dawson SD, Reidenberg JS, Berta A. Neuromuscular Anatomy and Evolution of the Cetacean Forelimb. Anat. Rec 2007; 290: 1121-1137.

    Connor RC, Herman LM, Lefebvre L, Lusseau D, McCowan B, Nimchinsky EA, Pack AA, Reidenberg JS, Reiss D, Uhen MD, Van der Gucht E, Whitehead H. Cetaceans have complex brains for complex cognition. PLOS Biol 2007; 5(5): e139.

    Lipan MJ, Laitman JT. Anatomy of reflux: A growing health problem affecting structures of the head and neck. Anat Rec 2006; 289B: 261-270.

    Balboni AL, Estenson TL, Reidenberg JS, Bergemann AD, Laitman JT. Assessing age related ossification of the petroccipital fissure: Laying the foundation for understanding clinicopathologies of the cranial base. Anat. Rec. 2005; 282A: 38-48.

    Reidenberg JS, Laitman JT. Morphophysiology of the Larynx. In: Basic Science Review for Otolaryngology, T. Van De Water and H. Staecker (eds.). New York: 2005, Thieme;.

    Industry Relationships

    Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

    Dr. Reidenberg did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2013 and/or 2014: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

    Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website at Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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