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Dr. Vishal Rao

Dr.Vishal Rao: Fighter of The Deaf.

Dr. Vishal rao

Dr. Vishal, who hails from Mangaluru, completed his MBBS and MS from KLE College - which was then called Jawaharlal Nehru College in Belgaum, and later underwent oncology training at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.

He is also a visiting scholar at the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, USA, a Consultant at the Institute of Public Health, and a Director of the Cancer Prevention and Tobacco Control Project with W.H.O Tobacco Free Initiative Partners.

Dr. Vishal is now training other doctors in the country to use the device. “Right now, the team is ingeniously doing the boxing, packing, and sterilization of the product when it is sent across the country. When it comes to mass scaling, government support becomes inevitable. However, the whole idea is that the one-dollar initiative will continue,” he says, adding that however small be the support from the government, he will still have the charity component open.

Dr. Vishal Rao is a Bangalore-based oncologist. Dr.Vishal Rao is presently the Chief of Head & Neck Surgical Oncology & Robotic Surgery at HCG Cancer Centre, Bangalore. He completed his post-graduation in otorhinolaryngology from a reputed institute in Karnataka & a fellowship in Head & Neck oncology surgery from a well-known institute in Mumbai.

Dr. Vishal Rao has developed a voice prosthesis that can help throat cancer patients speak after surgery. And unlike the extremely expensive ones available in the market today, Dr.Vishal is the inventor of ‘Aum Voice Prosthesis’ a $1 speaking device for throat cancer patients. His invention is a part of 100 global social innovations across the globe. With over 13 patents filed for his innovation on medical devices, drugs, techniques & theories, Dr.Vishal has received wide recognition from BBC, Harvard Business Review & Forbes.

As a recognition of his contributions, he has been conferred the Honorary FRCS from the Royal College of Surgeons in Glasgow. He has also received the Judy Wilkenfield award for Global Excellence in tobacco control and has been a recipient of multiple state-level awards including the Kempegowda award.

He also serves as editor of the journal of precision oncology and has over 100 national & international publications to his credit. Dr. Vishal is an international advisor to World Health Organization Tobacco Free initiatives and is a visiting faculty of John Hopkins University leadership programs.

Family Details of Dr. Vishal Rao.

Dr. Vishal’s family is very supportive and proud of his work. “They feel that somewhere they too become a part of the blessings I get from my patients,” he says. His wife Megha, who is a corporate lawyer, has been a massive back-up for Dr. Vishal, because of whom, he says, he has been able to achieve all this. The couple has a three-year-old son Aayan.

Contact & Address Details of Dr. Vishal Rao.

Address:- HCG Cancer Center,
Tower 4, 8 HCG Towers P,
Kalinga Rao Rd,
Sampangiram Nagar,
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560027.
Mob:- 06366664043(what's app).
Website:- www.drvishalrao.business.site.


Dr. Vishal Rao can Speak in 4 Languages.
  • English.
  • Hindi.
  • Kannada.
  • Tulu.

Skills & endorsements of Dr. Vishal Rao.

Dr. Rao takes a keen interest in cancer prevention and anti-tobacco programs. His area of expertise is head & neck surgery, which includes surgery for benign and malignant tumors of the thyroid, parotid and salivary gland surgeries, complex neck surgeries, such as radical and modified neck dissections, carotid body, other vascular tumors, and parapharyngeal space tumors
  • General Surgery.
  • Healthcare Management.
  • Oncological Surgery.
  • Head & Neck Surgery.
  • Teaching Operations.
  • Medical Consultancy.

Industry Knowledge of Dr. Vishal Rao.

  • Palliative Care.
  • Pain Management.
  • Clinical Research.
  • Patient Safety.
  • Research & Development.
  • Medical Education.

Experience of Dr. Vishal Rao.

Health Care Global.
Designation:- Dean.
Dates Employed:- Mar 2021 – Present
Employment Duration:- 6 yrs 7 months.
Location:- Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.

Designation:- Consultant - Head Neck Surgical Oncologist and Robotic Surgeon.
Dates Employed:- Jan 2015 – Present.
Employment Duration:- 6 yrs 7 months.
Location:- Bangalore.

Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru.
Designation:- Associate.
Dates Employed:- Nov 2011 – May 2015.
Employment Duration:- 3 yrs 7 months.
Location:- Bangalore.

Work on cancer prevention programs with NGOs and Government.

Chord Road Hospital
Designation:- Consultant Oncologist Head Neck Surgeon.
Dates Employed:- Aug 2010 – May 2015.
Employment Duration:- 4 yrs 10 months.
Location:- West of Chord Road, Basaveshwanagar, Bangalore.

BGS Global Hospital, Bangalore.
Designation:- Senior Consultant.
Dates Employed:- Apr 2013 – Dec 2014.
Employment Duration:- 1 yr 9 months.
Location:- Uttarahalli Road, Kengeri, Bangalore.

Senior Consultant Surgical Oncology (Head & Neck) at Global Oncology Institute - BGS Global Hospital.

Various Institute & Colleges
Designation:- Guest Faculty & Invited Lectures
Dates Employed:- 2009 – 2014.
Employment Duration:- 5 yrs.

  • Speaker-management of the neck in h&n cancers - promote ENT and CME organized by icon & dr. Reddy’s in 2014.
  • Moderator-live surgical workshop on head neck surgical oncology-Devaraj URS medical college in 2014.
  • Panelist-CME on head neck cancers management update, organized by HCG in 2014
  • panelist-66th annual conference of the association otolaryngologists of India AOICON 2014 “Changing trends in the management of carcinoma larynx” & “challenging thyroid cases” in 2014.
  • Organizer & faculty-UAE cancer congress; head neck masters course in 2013.
  • Organizer & faculty-orbital tumors management; iENT conference, BGS global hospital in 2013.
  • Panellist-annual state conference of the association otolaryngologists of India AOICON 2013 early oral cancers at the state conference in KMC, Manipal in 2013.
  • Indian representative to Bangladesh (hosted by who partners) to discuss policy reforms in the health role of a physician (lessons from India) in 2012.
  • Moderator-panel discussion on the management of the neck in head neck cancers; kshema medical college, Mangalore in 2011.
  • Moderator-panel discussion on operability issues in head neck cancers at Raja Rajeshwari medical college, Bangalore in 2011.
  • Lecture on “prevention of cancers” – ima NATCON 2011.
  • Moderator for the sessions “thyroid surgery” and “mandibulectomy” at the oncosurg 2011; annual surgical oncology workshop conducted at tata memorial hospital.
  • Panellist-management of early oral cancers; joint meeting of FHNOASHNO 2011.
  • Panellist-management of the neck in head neck cancers; state conference, AOI.
  • “Overview of tobacco carcinogenesis”, 2nd national conference on tobacco or health at the Tata memorial hospital.
  • “Approach to odynophagia”, promote ENT AND CME on head and neck oncology for an ent surgeon conducted by icon, Bangalore in 2010.

HCG Curie center of Oncology.
Designation:- Consultant Oncologist Head Neck Surgeon.
Dates Employed:- Jul 2012 – Mar 2013.
Employment Duration:- 9 months.
Location:- Koramangala, Bangalore.

Raja Rajeshwari Medical College & Hospital.
Designation:- Visiting Consultant- Head Neck Surgeon /Asst. Professor
Dates Employed:- Jul 2010 – Feb 2013.
Employment Duration:- 2 yrs 8 months.

Apollo Hospital.
Designation:- Visiting Consultant Oncologist- Head & Neck Surgeon.
Dates Employed:- Apr 2010 – Dec 2011.
Employment Duration:- 1 yr 9 months.

Fortis Hospitals.
Designation:-Consultant Oncologist Head Neck Surgeon.
Dates Employed:- Jan 2009 – Dec 2011
Employment Duration:- 3 yrs
Location:- Bengaluru, India.

Kidwai Memorial Institute.
Designation:- Asst. Professor.
Dates Employed:- Jan 2009 – Jun 2010.
Employment Duration:- 1 year 6 months.
Location:- Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.

Dr. Vishal Rao conducted seminars and classroom lectures for post-graduate medical students as a part of the teaching curriculum. He conducted certain research’s which are:
  • Co-investigator - human papillomavirus in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC): incidence and behavior of HPV positive tumors.
  • Co-investigator - is functional and anatomical organ preservation feasible using non-surgical organ preservation protocols in patients with compromised organ function with advance laryngopharyngeal cancers?
  • Trial coordinator for the “randomized controlled trial comparing elective neck dissection v.s. Therapeutic neck dissection in the treatment of early node-negative squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity”.
  • “one-year prospective study to evaluate the results of superiorly based tympanometry flaps in endoscopic myringoplasty”.
  • Deputed to the vascular biology laboratory of Jawaharlal Nehru Center for advanced scientific research (JNCASR), Bangalore to study “the role of angiogenesis in head & neck cancers”.

Tata Memorial Hospital.
Designation:- Fellow.
Dates Employed:- Apr 2006 – Nov 2008.
Employment Duration:- 2 yrs 8 months.
Location:- Mumbai, India.

At Tata Memorial, I delivered seminars and made oral presentations as a part of the teaching curriculum for the Head & Neck Oncology Nursing Programme.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Designation:-Visiting Scholar.
Dates Employed:- Jul 2008.
Employment Duration:- 1 month.

At the University of Pittsburgh, I taught bedside clinical skills, seminars, and case discussions to undergraduate medical students.

Dr. Vishal rao

Honors & Awards

1. Honorary FRCS (Glasgow)
Date:- Feb 2018.
Honor Issuer:- Royal College of Surgeons Glasgow
Honor Description:- Conferred The Honorary FRCS for his contributions in HN Oncology from Prevention to Innovations.

2. Kannadiga ( Mirror ) of the Year.
Date:- Feb 2018.
Honor Issuer:- News 18.
Honor Description:- The 2018 Award (Kannadiga of the Year) for Science and Technology.

3. Judy Wilkenfeld Award for Global Tobacco Control.
Date:- Nov 2017.
Honor Issuer:- campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Honor Description:- Judy Wilkenfeld Award was conferred for my contributions and focus on cancer prevention and tobacco control. Especially ban of Gutka and other cheering products which contribute to the vast majority of oral cancer.

4. Certificate of acknowledgment.
conducting an audio-visual presentation in 36th mentcon, ent conference, Mahabaleshwar in 2004.

5. Gold medal.
In the innovation category on “role of vitamin a in the evolution of cholesteatoma” in 2006.Mahabaleshwar in 2004.

6. Best video & poster award.
In “spindle cell tumor of the larynx”, 36th mentcon, ENT conference, Mahabaleshwar in 2004.

7. Marquis who’s who in medicine & healthcare in 2012.

8. ND Purushottam award.
State conference of otolaryngologists & head neck surgery.

9. Rotary vocational training award.
for innovation of aum voice prosthesis.

Dr. Vishal Rao Invented an Rs. 50 Device To Give Throat Cancer Patients Their Voice Again.

It had been over two months since a throat cancer patient from Kolkata had eaten properly. He was depressed, unable to speak or swallow, and was being fed with the help of a pipe through his nose. His financial condition made it very difficult for him to afford proper medical treatment. It was then that a doctor informed him about a surgeon in Bangalore who could be of help. So he traveled, met the surgeon, and sought his treatment. After a procedure that lasted only five minutes, he was able to speak properly, swallow his food, and was even ready to travel back home all thanks to Dr. Vishal Rao U.S.

“That day, when I came out from another surgery after about three hours, the Kolkata patient was still standing there, waiting for me. He was so emotionally overwhelmed that he just ran towards me and hugged me saying that he had never imagined getting his voice back would be so easy,” says the 37-year-old doctor.

Dr. Rao is an oncologist and head and neck surgeon at the Bangalore-based HealthCare Global (HCG) Cancer Center. He has developed the Aum Voice Prosthesis – a voice prosthesis device that can help patients whose voice box has been removed, to speak and eat properly.

Unlike the currently available prostheses that cost anywhere between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 30,000, and have to be replaced every six months, Dr. Rao’s prosthesis will cost just Rs. 50.

Science Behind the Aum Device?

A Voice prosthesis is a device made of silicone. It is used to help patients speak when the entire voice box, or larynx, has been removed. In such cases, the windpipe and food pipe are separated from each other, either at the time of the surgery or later, creating an opening between the two. The device is then placed in this opening. Dr. Rao explains that the voice box basically vibrates with the help of air provided by the lungs. The mechanism behind the prosthesis is that instead of the vocal cord vibrating, the food pipe is made to vibrate with the back end of the prosthesis sitting at the food pipe.

“If you send air into the food pipe through the lungs, it will vibrate, create noise, and that can be converted into intelligent speech with coordination from the brain. As food or water should not fall into the lungs, it is a one-way valve device,” he elaborates. The device weighs 25 grams and is 2.5 cm long.

Reason Behind the Aum Device?

The foundation for Aum Voice Prosthesis was laid about two years ago when a throat cancer patient from a remote Karnataka village came in to meet Dr. Rao.

“That man had not eaten since about a month and he could not speak. After the cancer surgery, his voice box had been removed, but he could not afford the prosthesis. When he came to me, he did not find life worth living anymore,” remembers Dr. Rao, who promised the patient that he would try and help.

Till then, every time he had encountered a case like this, Dr. Vishal had to contact some pharmaceutical companies, ask for discounts, raise funds, and arrange donations – but he had been able to help patients despite all this trouble. So raising funds was his first thought this time as well. But then, something amazing happened. “I would call it Serendipity that right after the patient a friend walked in to meet me,” he says. This friend, Shashank Mahes, promised that he would try and arrange the required funds but he also asked the doctor a simple question: 

“Why are you dependent on all these people. Why don’t you make something on your own?

Dr. Rao felt that something like this was beyond his capacity. He was familiar with the technical side but didn’t have the industrial expertise to turn his idea into a viable product. Fortunately, Shashank was willing to help him with that. They decided to collaborate for this cause Dr. Rao got the entire technical plan ready and Shashank helped him convert it into reality using his expertise as an industrialist. They put in the required funds from their own pockets and developed the device.

The duo has filed for a patent for the device; it will be available in the market by next month. They have also received approvals from scientific and ethical committees at HCG to start using the product on patients. Testing will begin on 30 patients initially.

Most voice prostheses are very costly because they are imported. Dr. Rao and his friend took two years to come up with the final product. But to keep it affordable, they decided not to charge for their time and effort.

“We believe that speech and communication are not a privilege but a right. We cannot hold them back from a patient only because he/she is poor,” he says.

Dr. Rao has used the device on three patients so far. His aim is to study and fine-tune it further, in the hope that its use will soon become widespread in every cancer center in the country.

Why is the device called ‘Aum’?

“In older scriptures, ‘Om’ was written as ‘Aum.’ ‘A’ stands for creation, ‘U’ for sustenance, and ‘M’ for annihilation. These are the three basic principles of our universe. When a person speaks again after losing his voice box, for me it is more like a rebirth, like Aum being recreated because it is the origin of all sound,” concludes Dr. Rao. Dr. Vishal Rao Develops World’s Cheapest and Possibly the Best Voice Prosthesis at Rs 50. It is a traumatic experience for stage four throat cancer patients when the larynx or the voice box is removed and they lose their ability to speak.

A few years ago, such patients used expensive imported voice prostheses – costing between Rs 15,000 and Rs 35,000 - to speak again. Those who could not afford the device remained voiceless for the rest of their lives.

“The global market for voice prosthesis was in the hands of two companies, one American and one European. Now ours is the third company, from India,” shares 40-year-old Dr. Vishal, who wants to make the device available to throat cancer patients around the world.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) and nine other countries have already expressed interest in the product. “Government of India is in talks with me and has assured support to make this product sustainable and reach it to everyone,” says Dr. Vishal, who is the head and neck surgical oncologist at Health Care Global (HCG) Cancer Centre, Bengaluru.

Dr. Vishal fits the device at the same cost as those who undergo surgery at HCG and on patients who come to him solely for the voice prosthesis. “The pain of cancer is the same for all, whether one is rich or poor,” reasons Dr. Vishal.

An incident when a patient came from Durgapur, Kolkata.

He recalls an incident when a patient from Durgapur, Kolkata, who had undergone surgery and lost his voice, came all the way to Bengaluru on hearing about his device.

“The patient could not afford the expensive prostheses. He was so poor that he didn’t have money to even pay the registration fee at the hospital. All that he said was, ‘I have heard that they put a voice box here for Rs 50 and I have come to try it out.’

Before developing Aum Voice Prosthesis, Dr. Vishal donated the expensive imported voice devices to needy patients and raised the money for his charity through his trust

When the man got his voice back the same day after Dr. Vishal fitted the device, he turned emotional and thanked him profusely. “He hugged me and touched my feet and said he had never imagined he would get back his voice so quickly,” says Dr. Vishal.

Other patients are equally happy. Take the sexagenarian Sudhindra Babu case, who had an imported voice device fitted in 2015 after his larynx was removed. He had spent Rs 23,000 on it, but the device gave frequent trouble. A year later, he decided to try Dr. Vishal’s device.

Two years have passed since then, and he has faced no problem. “As a businessman, I travel a lot. My voice is very clear and I find no difficulty in communicating with others,” he testifies. “I am very happy with Dr. Vishal and the care he gives to his patients.”

How Was the journey began in developing the Aum Voice Prosthesis?

Dr. Vishal developed the device after extensive research and trials for over two years along with his friend Shashank Mahesh. The bootstrapped venture was launched by the duo with an investment of Rs 10 lakh.

Before developing the Aum device, Dr. Vishal used to help needy patients by providing them imported voice prostheses free of cost. He raised money for the charity by organizing fundraising programs through his trust. One day Shashank threw the idea of developing their own product. “Thus began our journey in developing the Aum Voice Prosthesis,” reminisces Dr. Vishal.

Dr. Vishal explains that their mission was to develop a high-quality device. “We believed a poor man genuinely deserves the best, so give him the world’s best.” With this vision, they used imported platinum-cured medical-grade silicone and other materials to develop the tiny Aum Voice Prosthesis, which weighs 25 grams and measures 2.5 cm in length.

“Vishal would get deeply moved to see the plight of his patients, who are from the lower economic strata. He would always struggle to organize funds to get the imported voice prosthesis fitted on them.

Dr. Vishal wants to make his Aum voice prosthesis available to patients around the world. Information Medical Devices is hoping to deliver the device pan India by the end of 2018 and cover at least half of Asia in the next year. With the manufacturing process getting simplified, Innaumation can manufacture 100 pieces in an hour now.

An anti-tobacco activist, Dr. Vishal blames smoking and consumption of gutka as primary causes for throat cancer. And his mission in life is - ‘Let’s not sell more prosthesis but reduce tobacco’.

This article is part of the 'Inspiring Indians' Series.