"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 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

Akkina SR, Saurey TG, Middleton NA, Mattson NR, Brummet S, Phillips JO, Chambers CB, Moe KS, Mudumbai RC. Factors Associated with Ocular Injury in Orbital Fracture Patients: Who Requires Urgent Ophthalmic Evaluation?, Facial Plast Surg Aesthet Med 2021 Sep

Kelly JP, Phillips JO, Saneto RP, Khalatbari H, Poliakov A, Tarczy-Hornoch K, Weiss AH. Cerebral Visual Impairment Characterized by Abnormal Visual Orienting Behavior With Preserved Visual Cortical Activation., Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2021 05; 62(6):15

Kelly JP, Tarczy-Hornoch K, Phillips JO, Weiss AH. A reduced visual pathway response in infantile nystagmus syndrome., J AAPOS 2021 02; 25(1):9.e1-9.e6

Ko PY, Glass IA, Crandall S, Weiss A, Dorschner MO, Kelly JP, Phillips JO, Lopez J. Two Missense CACNA1A Variants in a Single Family with Variable Neurobehavioral, Cerebellar, Epileptic, and Oculomotor Features., Neuropediatrics 2021 06; 52(3):186-191

Kelly JP, Baran FM, Phillips JO, Weiss AH. Matching Misaligned Spectralis OCTs to a Reference Scan in Pediatric Glaucoma with Poor Fixation and Nystagmus., Transl Vis Sci Technol 2020 09; 9(10):21

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