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Dr. David J. Lim made significant contributions to ear research, serving as a professor at Ohio State University, the first NIDCD Scientific Director, and as a Co-Founder of ARO. His outstanding work earned him many prestigious awards, including the Javits Award (NIH, 1986), the Shambaugh Prize (CORLAS, 1992), and the Gold Medal Award (IFOS, 2017).

A short excerpt from 

A Tribute to David J. Lim, MD: Researcher, Mentor, Organizer, and Friend.

Prof. D. Bradely Welling (Harvard University)

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2019 Jun;128(6_suppl):6S-7S

Dr. Lim earned his medical degree from the prestigious Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea and completed his Otolaryngology residency at the National Medical Center also in Seoul.  

Following his post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University and Massachusetts Eye and Ear with Robert Kimura, M.D., he accepted a faculty position at Ohio State chaired by Dr. William Saunders. There he firmly established his research where he became a world authority on the morphology of the inner ear and made the beginning of many seminal discoveries over 24 years at Ohio State. Perhaps the most widely referenced publication was DJ Lim, Functional structure of the organ of Corti: a review, published in Hearing Research 22:117-146, 1986. Throughout his career, David mentored over 60 research fellows, many of whom went on to very distinguished NIH-funded research careers of their own when Dr. Lim departed to accept the post as the first Director of the Division of Intramural Research for the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in 1991. He shortly thereafter accepted the post of Executive Vice President for Research and the Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine at the House Ear Institute.  Most recently he was Professor in Residence in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery, UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.


As a fortunate byproduct of Dr. Lim’s incessant energy and curiosity, he not only mentored many, but he also organized global researchers to catalyze discovery in international symposia. He was a Founder of the International Symposium on Recent Advances in Otitis Media with Effusion and Post Symposium Research Conference which began in 1975 and was held every four years over three decades. He was also one of eight co-founders of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) which began in 1973.  ARO has grown to be the primary forum for basic science relevant in communication science today.  He served the ARO as historian, secretary-treasurer and president. 


His intelligence, novel ideas and dogged diligence were rewarded with many honors of great significance.  As examples of just a few, he received the Javits Award from the NIH in 1986 and the Claude Pepper Award from the NIH 1989, The Shambaugh Prize from the Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum, the highest award from this prestigious international research society, in 1992.  He was honored with the Award of Merit from the ARO in 1993, and the Grand Prize for Medical Sciences (Distinguished Alumni Award) from Yonsei University in 1997. In 2017 in his last meeting, David was awarded the Gold Medal Award from the International Federation of Otolaryngology Societies (IFOS) in Paris, France, the highest achievement in the field of otolaryngology in the world.


It is clear that we, as a community of researchers and clinicians who knew David Lim well, will miss our close association with him, the warmth of his friendship and the richness of his contributions to the field.  Our heart-felt condolences to the Lim family for their great loss.

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