Collingwood Karmody (25th Sep 1929-15th Nov 2013)

Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 2

Professor Collingwood S. Karmody is an internationally famous otolaryngologist1 who is noted for his research interests in the pathophysiology2 of Otitis Media3, congenital abnormalities of the head and neck, and the histopathology4 of deafness. He performed a groundbreaking cochlea implantation at the New England Medical Centre, restoring partial hearing to a severely deaf patient. He has published several books and over 130 scientific papers.

Karmody was born on 25th September, 1929 in San Fernando, Trinidad. He attended Coffee Street E.C. School and Naparima College before transferring to St. Mary’s College, which he attended from 1944 to 1948. He studied medicine at the University College Dublin (now the National University of Ireland) where he won the Ambrose-Birmingham Gold Medal and received his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB BCh BAO) in 1955. After graduation, he continued his career at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Institute of Laryngology5 and Otology6 of the University of London, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Harvard University as Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine, and the University of Vermont. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1960.

As Consultant Surgeon to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago between 1961 and 1965, he conducted a Study of Maternal Rubella7 and Congenital Deafness, demonstrating for the first time the effects of the virus, and the birth defects associated with it, in pregnant women showing no symptoms of illness. He and other researchers also conducted a Study of the Ethnic Variation in the Incidence of Otitis Media in Trinidad in 1998.

After emigrating to the United States in 1963, Karmody held many distinguished positions. He was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) in 1968 and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1970. He was Professor of Otolaryngology and served as Interim Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts-New England Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts.

Professor Karmody was Examiner for the fellowship examinations of the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh from 1982 to 1989, the American Board of Otolaryngology from 1970 to 1974, and the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of the West Indies (UWI) from 2000 to 2005. He held Visiting Professorships at Harvard University, The State University of New York, the University of Vermont, the University of Tennessee, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Chile.

He received the Honor Award of the AAO – HNS and was consultant to the Board of Rehabilitation in Massachusetts. In 1999, after 30 years of service, Tufts University appointed him Professor Emeritus.

Professor Karmody authored the Textbook of Otolaryngology (1983) and was Guest Editor of Headache and Facial Pain (2003). An Atlas of the Congenital Anomalies of the Neck: Tips on Surgical Management is in preparation.

In 2005, he and two colleagues discovered a new inherited medical syndrome involving early greying, hearing loss and essential tremor8, which has not yet been named.





  1. Specialist in the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders and head and neck disorders
  2. The study of the changes in body function associated with disease or injury
  3. Inflammation (redness and swelling) of the middle ear accompanied by pain, dizziness and impaired hearing
  4. The study of diseased cells on a microscopic level
  5. The branch of medicine that treats the larynx (voicebox) and upper throat
  6. The science of the ear and its related diseases
  7. A form of measles that causes mild rashes in adults and birth defects in unborn children
  8. The most common tremor disorder, associated with aging. Causes trembling of the hands, arms, head or eyelids of patients who attempt to move these muscles, and of the voice when they try to speak.