"The UW provides an extraordinary environment for research, teaching and clinical practice. Here I can participate in translational research. I can study motor and sensory function in humans and use basic biological models. I can see patients in the clinic and teach undergraduates, graduate students, and residents. I have an opportunity to collaborate with some of the finest researchers in the world. That is pretty great."


James O. Phillips, Ph.D., joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 1998 and is currently a research associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He is also the director of the Dizziness and Balance Center at the UW Medical Center, the Vestibular Diagnostic Laboratory at UWMC, and the Roger Johnson Clinical Oculomotor Laboratory in the Division of Ophthalmology at Seattle Children's Hospital. Prior to joining UW, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology and in physiology from the University of Washington. Dr. Phillips teaches in the Departments of Otolaryngology-HNS, Ophthalmology, and Speech and Hearing Sciences. He is a faculty research affiliate of the National Primate Research Center, the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, the Center on Human Development and Disability, and the Autism Center at the University of Washington. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for Navigation and Communication Sciences at the University of Rochester and the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute. He is on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of the Vestibular Disorders Association.


Undergraduate Education: Pomona College, B.A., English Literature

Graduate Education: University of Washington, Ph.D., Psychology/Physiology

Fellowship: University of Washington, Neurophysiology

Other Training: Post-Doctoral Trainee, University of Washington, Neurophysiology

Memberships: Society for Neuroscience, Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Society for the Neural Control of Movement, Barany Society, New York Academy of Sciences, American Physiological Society, Vestibular Disorders Association

Awards and honors 

1997: Fellow, A.R.V.O./N.E.I.
1994: Finalist, Lindsley prize in Behavioral Neuroscience

1988: Fellow, James S. McDonnell Foundation 


Academic interests 


Diagnosis and treatment of vestibular and oculomotor disorders in children and adults.



Our group studies the brainstem control of oculomotor and vestibular function. We work on developing treatment and diagnostic technologies for vestibular and oculomotor disorders. We study the genetics of these disorders and the development of eye, head, body movement. We are also trying to understanding the underlying neural mechanisms that subserve these functions in infants and adults..


Recent Publications

Estrada M, Kelly JP, Wright J, Phillips JO, Weiss A. Visual Function, Brain Imaging, and Physiological Factors in Children With Asymmetric Nystagmus due to Chiasmal Gliomas., Pediatr. Neurol. 2019 Aug; 9730-37

Phillips JO, Ling L, Nowack AL, Phillips CM, Nie K, Rubinstein JT. The Dynamics of Prosthetically Elicited Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex Function Across Frequency and Context in the Rhesus Monkey., Front Neurosci 2018 ; 1288

Kelly JP, Phillips JO, Weiss AH. Does eye velocity due to infantile nystagmus deprive visual acuity development?, J AAPOS 2018 02; 22(1):50-55.e1

Kelly JP, Baran F, Phillips JO, Weiss AH. Optical Coherence Tomography in Optic Nerve Hypoplasia: Correlation With Optic Disc Diameter, Nerve Fiber Layer Thickness, and Visual Function., J Neuroophthalmol 2018 Sep; 38(3):312-319

Kelly JP, Phillips JO, Weiss AH. The relationship of nystagmus waveform on the VEP response in infantile nystagmus syndrome: a small case series., Doc Ophthalmol 2017 02; 134(1):37-44

Latest news 

"Vertigo Can't Stop Jason Day, Who Finishes 9th in U.S. Open Golf": http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-21/jason-day-leads-u-s-open-even-with-superhuman-bout-of-vertigo

"Balance - Why Does A Playground Activity That All Kids Love Make So Many Adults Sick?": http://www.knkx.org/post/why-does-playground-activity-all-kids-love-make-so-many-adults-sick

UWTV with Dr. Phillips:  "UW Medicine's First Vestibular Implant & Other Lessons": http://uwtv.org/watch/wIFnICYY46E/


Phillips Lab

The Phillips laboratory is divided into four working groups: The Human Vestibular laboratory; the Vestibular Neurophysiology laboratory; the Mouse and Infant Monkey Vestibular Behavior laboratory; and the Human Development Clinical Oculomotor laboratory. Each group studies eye movement and vestibular function and their underlying mechanisms. 


Lab contact info 

(206) 543-0265

Lab location 

HSB BB 827
1959 N.E. Pacific St.
UW School of Medicine
Seattle, WA 98195