Dr. Kern was born and raised in New Jersey, leaving to obtain a B.S. in biology from Georgetown University. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude in 1981. He went on to attend Jefferson Medical College, graduating as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha in 1985. He completed residency training followed by a 2 year NIH research training fellowship at Wayne State University. The research focus during this fellowship was in the area of olfaction.
Dr. Kern was mentored by Thomas Getchell Ph.D., a nationally recognized leader in the field of olfactory physiology. During this fellowship, he also obtained a Master's degree in Anatomy from Wayne State. Dr. Kern joined the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty in 1991 as an Assistant Professor and continued his research in the area of olfaction, culminated in a K08 award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. In addition to medical staff privileges at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kern also attended Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine otolaryngology residents at Stroger Hospital of Cook County.
In 1999, Dr. Kern became Chairman of Otolaryngology at Stroger Hospital. In July 2006, Dr. Kern resigned his position at Stroger to accept the position of Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Currently, Dr. Kern's primary clinical interests are the medical and surgical treatment of diseases of the nose and paranasal sinuses. This includes the minimally invasive endonasal approach to skull base tumors. His research is focused on the pathophysiology of chronic rhinosinusitis in partnership with Robert Schleimer Ph.D., the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology. Dr. Kern serves as co-investigator on several of Dr. Schleimer's National Institutes of Health grants. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is considered the national leader in research in rhinosinusitis as a result of this productive collaboration.