One of Baylor’s most important and influential faculty members, Dr. Alford was recognized as an outstanding physician and educator and served as an exemplar of the College’s mission of excellence.
Dr. Alford spent almost his entire career at Baylor. He began as a medical student in 1952, earned his M.D. at the youthful age of 23 and continued with a residency in otolaryngology. He completed a fellowship with Houston surgeon Dr. Frederick Guilford and a National Institutes of Health fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He returned to Baylor in 1962 as an assistant professor; in 1965, became an associate professor; in 1966, a professor; and in 1967, chair of what is now the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. That same year he was named chair of The Methodist Hospital Department of Otolaryngology. He led both otolaryngology programs until 2010. Dr. Alford was instrumental in developing the concept of the Neurosensory Center of what is now Houston Methodist and Baylor College of Medicine and more specifically the Institute for Head and Neck Surgery within that Center.
Dr. Alford served in key academic leadership roles at Baylor, including chancellor, executive vice president and dean of medicine. He was a founder of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and developed it into a network of more than 60 top-level institutions. He held the Friedkin Chair for Research in Sensory System Integration and Space Medicine and the Olga Keith Wiess Chair of Otorhinolaryngology.
Dr. Alford also was a community leader, well known throughout Houston and beyond for his skills as a physician and his commitment to excellence in providing medical care and education. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the DeBakey Medical Foundation and the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation and a medical advisor to the John S. Dunn Foundation, Diana Helis Henry Medical Research Foundation and Adrienne Helis Malvin Medical Research Foundation.
Dr. Alford was a fellow and former president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, a former president and executive vice president of the American Board of Otolaryngology, a fellow and former member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons and a former president of the American Council of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.
At Baylor, he was named a distinguished service professor in 1985 and twice was honored by the Alumni Association as a distinguished alumnus in 1991 and with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. The Ben and Margaret Love Foundation Bobby Alford Award for Academic Clinical Professionalism and the Bobby R. Alford, M.D., Grand Rounds Distinguished Lectureship, endowed by the Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin Medical Research foundations, recognize his contributions to the College.