Director, Nasal Physiology and Therapeutic Center

Kai ZhaoAssociate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 

Department of Otolaryngology
915 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, OH 43212

Office: 614-293-3857
Lab: 614-366-1794
Fax: 614-293-7292

Lab: Nasal Physiology and Therapeutic Center

Research interests: Kai Zhao, PhD, Associate Professor, joined the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in August 2015.

Dr. Zhao received his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was trained in respiratory biofluid mechanics. During his subsequent postdoctoral and independent research at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, he focused on theoretical and experimental approaches to understand the physiological fluid and transport problems in the nasal airway, and its implications in nasal functions, especially in olfaction. He also has held an adjunct faculty position in otolaryngology at Thomas Jefferson University, where he engaged in active clinical collaborations on investigating obstructive nasal sinus symptoms and treatment planning, including nasal obstruction, conductive olfactory losses, sinus surgery simulation and optimization.

His research has been supported in the past by the U.S. Air Force, NIH and private foundations. More recently, Dr. Zhao and a team of multidisciplinary researchers have been awarded an R01 grant by the National Institute of Health to further develop methodology to objectively evaluate conductive nasal symptoms and to assist clinicians in planning for more effective treatment.


PhD: Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2004
MSE: Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 1999
BS: Biomedical engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 1996

View CV

Current Research Support

“Objective evaluation of conductive olfactory losses & nasal obstruction symptoms," 
Agency: NIH-NIDCD, R01 DC013626, PI: Kai Zhao (12/01/2014 - 11/31/2018, four year total cost $1,523,000)

“Modulation of Olfactory Cilia” (05/01/2012 - 04/30/2016)
Agency: NIH NIDCD, R01 DC011554, PI: Minghong Ma (Neuroscience, UPENN) 
Subcontract PI: Kai Zhao (25%, total cost $146,000). This project investigates modulation of the structure and function of olfactory cilia, by the stimulus input properties in the nasal cavity.

Completed Research Support

“VOC Odor Signature Modeling for Portable Sensing Platforms” (10/01/2013-04/30/2014)
Agency: US Air Force (SBIR FA8650-13-M-6448, phase I), PI: Applied Nanotech, Inc., Subcontract PI: Kai Zhao ($23,000, six months)

“Airborne Human Odorants: detection, dispersion and characterization,”US Air Force, PIs:George Preti,Kai Zhao (total $130,000), 06/01/2011 – 08/31/2012.

“Nasal airflow and odorant transport: a prerequisite for normal olfaction” (12/01/2006 - 12/01/2010) 
Agency: NIH/NIDCD R03 DC008187-01 PI: Kai Zhao (three years total direct cost $150,000)  
This project uses computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling techniques to quantify the anatomy-dependent nasal airflow and odorant mucosal deposition patterns among healthy human subjects and to characterize their potential functional impact on human olfactory function.

“The left-right asymmetry in Parkinson disease development” (2011, one year), Agency: private source, PI: Kai Zhao $20,000 total cost.

“Nasal airflow and odorant transport in healthy adult domestic cat” (10/01/2007 - 09/30/2008)
Industry funding: Mars, Inc. - Petcare. PI: Kai Zhao (total $104,000)

“Occupational exposure, inflammatory process and chemosensory function” (1/01/2005 - 12/31/2010). Agency: NIH/NIDCD P50 DC 006760 PI: Pamela Dalton
Role in this project: co-investigator. Using computational models to evaluate the degree to which occupational exposure-induced deviations in nasal airflow patterns are predictive of alternations in olfactory sensitivity. 

“Temporal integration in nasal lateralization” (10/01/06 - 10/01/10)
Agency: NIH/NIEHS R03 Principal investigator: Paul Wise 
Role in this project: consultant. To develop a mathematical model that characterizes the tradeoff between stimulus-duration and concentration in the detection of chemical irritation in the human nose based on transport of molecules through the mucosa. 

Presentations and Conferences

Oral Presentations

Mar. 19, 2015 
“The way the wind blows: investigating the impediments in nasal airway,” Grand Rounds, Department of Otolaryngology, Vanderbilt University.

Mar. 17, 2015 
“From nostril to receptors: nasal aerodynamics and its implications in mammalian nasal functions and diseases,” Grand Rounds, Department of Otolaryngology, Northwestern University.

Feb. 25, 2015

“Anosmia: A Sense of Hope,” Panelist, Lecture for continuing medical education (CME) for physicians, Jefferson University. 

Jan. 29, 2015
“The way the wind blows: investigating the impediments of nasal airflow,” Grand Rounds, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Miami.

Sep. 27, 2013 
“What is Normal Nasal Airflow? – A Computational Study of 22 Healthy Adults,” American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy (AAOA) Annual Meeting.

Sep. 28, 2013

“Conductive olfactory losses in chronic rhinosinusitis? – A computational fluid dynamics study of 29 patients,” American Rhinology Society (ARS) Annual Meeting.

Nov. 17, 2009

“The history and future of computational nasal airflow modeling – the clinical and functional relevance?” Beijing International Meeting on Research in Taste and Smell.

Apr. 16, 2009
“Sensation of nasal patency through mucosal heat loss rather than air temperature,” Rhinology World 2009 - the combined meeting of four major societies: the International Rhinological society (IRS), the International Symposium on Infection and Allergy of the Nose (ISIAN), the American Rhinological Society (ARS) and the American Academy of Otolarngic Allergy (AAOA).

Apr. 18, 2009
“Objective assessment of the impact of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) on olfactory function,” Rhinology World 2009.

Apr. 18, 2009
“Computational modeling of nasal airflow and odorant transport in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis,” Rhinology world 2009.

Conferences Abstracts (selected)

Sniffing and nasal aerodynamics: pre-processing of odorant information? Form and Function of the Olfactory System, HHMI Janelia Farm 2010

Jiang J.B., Luo Y.H., Dishowitz M., Wright A.C., and Zhao K., The first quantitative model of the nasal aerodynamics in mouse, AchemS 2010

Professional Experiences and Organizations

Ad hoc reviewer for NIH study section (ZDC1 SRB-K(20)), 2015

Program committee for Beijing international meeting on research in taste and smell, 2009

Journal reviewers: 
PNAS, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Laryngoscope, American Journal of Rhinology, International Forum of Rhinology and Allergy, Acta Oto-laryngologica, Journal of Rhinology, Medical Engineering and Physics, Chemical Senses, Chemoperception, Inhalation Toxicology, Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing, Journal of Aerosol Science, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, Journal of biomechanics, Journal of Experimental Biology, Anatomical Record.

Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AchemS), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)


For complete and most updated publication list:

Publications (submitted, in progress)
Lee TS., Goyal P., Luo Y., Zhao K. (2015) Inferior turbinate reduction: on which portion should surgery focus?  A CFD study, International Forum of Rhinology and Allergy

Peer-reviewed Publications
Li C., Farag A.A., Maza G., McGheel S., Ciccone M.A., Deshpande B., Pribitkin E.A., Otto B.A., Zhao K. (2017) Investigation of the abnormal nasal aerodynamics and trigeminal functions among empty nose syndrome patients, International Forum of Allergy Rhinol doi: 10.1002/alr.22045.

Lee TS., Goyal P., Li C., Zhao K., (2017) Inferior turbinate reduction: on which portion should surgery focus?  A CFD study, JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery (in press)

Li C., Jiang J., Dong H. and Zhao K. (2017) Computational modeling and validation of human nasal airflow under various breathing conditions, Journal of Biomechanics Nov 7;64:59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.08.031

Shen J., Hur K., Li C., Zhao K., Leopold D.A., Wrobel B.B. (2017) Determinants and Evaluation of Nasal Airflow Perception, Facial Plast Surg. Aug;33(4):372-377

Otto B.A., Li C., Farag A.A, Bush B., Krebs J., Hutcheson R., Kim K, and Zhao K. (2017) Computational fluid dynamics evidence of posterior septectomy as viable treatment option for large septal perforation, International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology, Jul;7(7):718-725.

Craig J., Palmer J. and Zhao K. (2017) Computational fluid dynamic modeling of nose-to-ceiling head positioning for sphenoid sinus irrigation, International Forum of Allergy Rhinol, May;7(5):474-479. doi: 10.1002/alr.21908 PMCID: PMC5426973

Li C., Farag A.A., Leach J., Deshpande B., Jacobowitz A., Kim K., Otto B.A., Zhao K. (2017) Computational fluid dynamics and trigeminal sensory examinations of empty nose syndrome patients, Laryngoscope, Mar 9. doi: 10.1002/lary.26530

in EA. (2014) Regional Peak Mucosal Cooling Predicts the Perception of Nasal Patency, Laryngoscope, 124(3):589-95 (Cited: 11)

Craig J., Zhao K., Doan N., Khalili S., John LYK, Adappa ND and Palmer J. (2015) Cadaveric validation study of computational fluid dynamics model of sinus irrigations before and after sinus surgery, International Forum of Allergy Rhinol (in press)

Lewis R., Tian HK., Wang J., He JW., Jiang J., Chen XM., Yin WB., Connelly T., Ma LM., Yu CR., Pluznick, JP., Storm DR., Huang LQ., Zhao K., and Ma M. (2015) An Olfactory Cilia Pattern in the Mammalian Nose Ensures High Sensitivity to Odors, Current Biology doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.065. [Epub ahead of print]

Zhao K., Craig J., Cohen NA., Adappa ND, Khalili S. and Palmer J. (2015) Sinus irrigations before and after surgery – visualization through computational fluid dynamics simulations, Laryngoscope (in press)

Zhao K., Malhotra P., Rosen D., Dalton P. and Pribitkin EA. (2014) Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) as surgical planning tool: a pilot study on middle turbinate partial resection, Anatomical Record. Nov;297(11):2187-95. doi: 10.1002/ar.23033. (cited: 2)

Zhao K., Jiang J. (2014) What is Normal Nasal Airflow? – A Computational Study of 22 Healthy Adults, International Forum of  Allergy Rhinol. Jun;4(6):435-46. doi: 10.1002/alr.21319 (cited: 2)

Scott JW*., Sherrilla L., Jiang J., Zhao K.* (2014) Tuning to Odor Solubility and Sorption Pattern in Olfactory Epithelial Responses, Journal of Neuroscience, 34(6):2025-36 * co-first author.

Zhao K., Dalton P., Cowart BJ., Pribitkin EA.(2014) Re: In Reference to Regional Peak Mucosal Cooling Predicts the Perception of Nasal Patency. Laryngoscope. May;124(5):E211-2 

Zhao K., Jiang J., Pribitkin EA., Dalton P., Rosen D. Lyman B., Yee KK., Rawson NE., Cowart, BJ. (2014) Conductive olfactory losses in chronic rhinosinusitis? – A computational fluid dynamics study of 29 patients, International Forum of Allergy Rhinol. Apr; 4(4):298-308. (cited: 1)

Zhao K., Jiang J., Blacker K., Lyman B., Dalton P., Cowart BJ., Pribitkin EA. (2014) Regional Peak Mucosal Cooling Predicts the Perception of Nasal Patency, Laryngoscope, 124(3):589-95 (cited: 10)

Zhao K., Blaker K., Luo Y. Bryant B., Jiang J. (2011) Perceiving nasal patency through mucosal cooling rather than air temperature or nasal resistance, Plos One 6: pp. e24618 (cited: 10)

Dalton PH., Opiekun RE., Gould M., McDermott R., Wilson T., Maute C., Ozdener MH., Zhao K., Emmett E., Lees PSJ., Herbert R., Moline J. (2010) Chemosensory Loss: Functional Consequences of the World Trade Center Disaster. Environ Health Perspect 118(9): 1251-1256. (citations: 7)

Wise P.M., Zhao K., and Wysocki C.J. (2010) Dynamics of nasal irritation from pulsed homologous alcohols. Chem Senses. 35(9): 823-9 PMCID: PMC2980991

Jiang J.B., and Zhao K. (2010) Airflow and nanoparticle deposition in rat nose under various breathing and sniffing conditions —A computational evaluation of the unsteady and turbulent effect. Journal of Aerosol Science. 41: 1030–1043 PMCID: PMC2976565 (Citations: 18)

Wise P.M., Zhao K., and Wysocki C.J. (2009) Dynamics of nasal chemesthesis, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1170:206-14 (citations: 9)

Wise P.M., Toczydlowski, S.E., Zhao K., and Wysocki C.J. (2009) Temporal integration in nasal lateralization of homologous propionates. Inhalation Toxicology, 21(10):819-27 

Yang C.C., Scherer P.W., Zhao K. and Mozell M.M. (2007) Numerical modeling of odorant uptake in the rat nasal cavity, Chem. Sense. 32: 273–284. (citations: 26)

Zhao K., Dalton P., Yang G.C., and Scherer P.W. (2006) Numerical modeling of turbulent and laminar airflow and odorant transport during sniffing in the human and rat nose, Chemical Senses, 31: 107-118. (citations: 62)

Zhao K., Pribitkin E.D., Scherer P.W., Cowart B.J., Rosen D. and Dalton P. (2006) Numerical modeling of nasal obstruction and endoscopic surgical intervention: outcome to airflow and olfaction, American Journal of Rhinology, 20: 308–316. (citations: 30)

Zhao K., Scherer P.W., Hajiloo A., and Dalton P. (2004). Effect of anatomy on human nasal air flow and odorant transport patterns: implications for olfaction, Chemical Senses 29: 365-379. (citations: 119)

Kurtz D.B., Zhao K., Hornung D.E., Scherer P.W. (2004). Experimental and numerical determination of odorant solubility in nasal and olfactory mucosa, Chemical Senses, 29, 763-773. (citation: 40)

Ma Z.M., Zhao K. Qian W.J., and Zheng X.X. (1997) Ion Selective Microelectrode for Histamine and Application, Chinese J. of Analytical chemistry, 25(7), 750-754