Dr. William M. Keane

Having seen how head and neck cancer can interfere with a patient’s ability to speak and swallow, and how it can disfigure the face and neck, William M. Keane, MD, devoted his career to improving treatments for this disease so that his patients can maintain their quality of life.

Dr. Keane joined Jefferson as chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 1991, and retired in 2021. During his tenure, he established the department as one of the preeminent clinical care and residency training programs in the United States, overseeing more than three dozen physicians in their care of patients with ear, nose, and throat and head and neck disorders.

Dr. Keane’s clinical practice included more than 30 years of experience as a board certified surgeon and oncologist specializing in cancers of the oral cavity, nose, sinuses, throat, salivary glands, and neck. He had extensive experience in treatment and surgery of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, and directed research dedicated to deciphering the genetics of thyroid disease. In 2001, he was named the Herbert Kean, MD, Chair in Otolaryngology, and also served as vice president for medical affairs for Jefferson University Physicians, the physician practice consisting of the full-time faculty of Jefferson Medical College.

Among Dr. Keane’s major contributions to Jefferson has been the implementation of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treating head and neck cancer. Working within the framework of the Kimmel Cancer Center, he has cultivated a culture of teamwork across all related specialties, bringing together medical oncologists, radiation therapists and reconstructive surgeons in a coordinated effort to improve care, comfort and outcomes for patients.

Dr. Keane also championed the application of advanced technologies to improve patient care. Under his leadership, Jefferson became a pioneer in transoral robotic surgery and minimally invasive skull base surgery, using robots and computer image-guided approaches to remove tumors without producing significant scars or damaging speech and swallowing functions.

An internationally recognized surgeon, Dr. Keane has received both the Certificate of Honor and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He was perennially listed as a Philadelphia Magazine and Castle Connolly “Top Doc.” Dr. Keane’s personalized, cutting-edge practice extends beyond Jefferson's examining rooms and operating theatre to the many communities in which the surgeons he has trained abide by his admonition to see beyond the cancer and treat the whole patient as if he or she were a spouse or family member.

Dr. Keane received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1970 and completed his residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained on the faculty until coming to Jefferson. He and his wife, Louise, have three sons and five grandchildren.