Genesis and History

Genesis: History of the International Society for Otitis Media

The International Society for Otitis Media is a natural consequence of four decades of symposia on recent advances in otitis media, whose history is described below by pioneers Charles D. Bluestone, MD, David J. Lim, MD, and Jerome O. Klein, MD.


ear anatomy



One of the leading pioneers in the field of otitis media was the late Ben H. Senturia, MD, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology at Washington University, and long-serving editor of the Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, who early on critically studied, classified, organized panels of experts, and reported on otitis media. In 1970, Ben published his nomenclature and classification of middle-ear effusions in an attempt to clarify the terminology at that time. He then convened and moderated a symposium in 1971 of a few investigators who were then conducting research in otitis media. That panel consisted of David Lim, MD; Gunner Proud, MD; and Charles Bluestone, MD who presented their findings. In 1974, Ben convened another panel on middle-ear effusions at the International Congress of Otolaryngology in Venice, Italy, among whose members were David J. Lim, MD; Stuart R. Mawson, FRCS; Tauna Palva, MD; Jacob Sade, MD; Mirko Tos, MD; and Charles D. Bluestone, MD; the Proceedings were later published.


Following these early deliberations and publications, Ben H. Senturia, David J. Lim, and Charles D. Bluestone organized international symposia on otitis media. The purpose of these symposia was to bring together investigators whose research and clinical interests were focused on diseases of the middle ear; these included otolaryngologists, pediatricians, infectious disease experts, immunologists, pharmacologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, public health officials, and experts from government and industry from all continents interested in relieving the burden of otitis media and its sequelae from our patients and their families. Over the years, the symposia have served as a magnet for presentations of new information and meeting of young and senior investigators to stimulate new and productive research, to review current investigations, and consider the most productive avenues for future research.

In 2013,  the International Society for Otitis Media (ISOM) was founded and inaugurated at the 7th International Symposium on Otitis Media in Stockholm. The timeline for ISOM’s creation was led by Dr. Richard Rosenfeld and spawned 5 years involving implementing articles of incorporation, crafting of a website and logo, and appointing a Charter Board of Directors, finally culminating in the Society’s Foundation in 2013.  Working with Dr. Bob Ruben, Dr. Rosenfeld wrote the first official set of bylaws for ISOM, effectively ‘constitutionalizing’ the spirit of this new Society.  The vision for this new Society was first articulated in a presentation Dr. Rosenfeld to the Symposium Board detailing the nascent Society’s Aims:

  • Provide a structure that allows all stakeholders to participate, e.g. bylaws, election of offices.
  • Ensure the future of OM efforts that began with the Founders
  • Encourage the exchange of ideas by sponsoring and conducting symposia for clinicians, scientists and other professionals interested in OM
  • Promote and (eventually) sponsor cooperative research to better understand, prevent, diagnose and manage OM
  • Develop and maintain an endowment fund for purposes of the Society
  • Establish, maintain, and administer committees and other groups to carry out the purposes of the Society
  • Publish and disseminate material (print and electronic) relative to the purposes of the Society

ISOM spawned with the idea of ensuring the sustainability and vibrant future of the highly successful symposia, while also bringing together and engaging the international research and clinical OM communities. Dr. Joe Kerschner served ISOM’s first secretary and Dr, Margaretha Casselbrandt its first treasurer. Since then, ISOM has continued to organize biennial Symposia alternating between US and International sites (see below). The Society has grown from an initial 65 members to over 120 members in 2020.

Sites for each of the Symposia are listed below:

  • 1975 – Columbus OH
  • 1979 – Columbus OH
  • 1983 – Ft. Lauderdale FL
  • 1985 – Kyoto, Japan
  • 1987 – Bal Harbour FL
  • 1991 – Ft. Lauderdale FL
  • 1993 – Oita, Japan
  • 1995 – Ft. Lauderdale FL
  • 1997 – Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1999 – Ft. Lauderdale FL
  • 2001 – Sendai, Japan
  • 2003 – Ft. Lauderdale FL
  • 2005 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2007 – St. Petersburg FL
  • 2009 – Seoul, Korea
  • 2011 – New Orleans FL
  • 2013 – Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2015 – Washington DC
  • 2017 – Queensland, Australia
  • 2019 – Los Angeles CA
  • 2021 – Brighton, UK (virtual)