Head and Neck Cancer Research

The Department of Otolaryngology has been the home of the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in Head and Neck Cancer at the University of Pittsburgh, which is funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI-NIH). More information is available here. This collaborative grant provides funding for multiple laboratories currently involved in biomedical research in head and neck oncology.

Other projects currently ongoing in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery include a cancer vaccine against the p53 tumor suppressor, a new study evaluating an intraoperative test (using polymerase chain reaction, or PCR) to identify spread of cancer into neck lymph nodes in 30 minutes, and a preliminary research investigation seeking to develop a new vaccine for patients with carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx, as well as studies directed at better understanding biologic signaling in cancer cells funded by the NIH.

A major effort to develop study and care of thyroid cancer also is underway. The research efforts of this department are directed by the guiding principal that the research findings of today may lead to opportunity for new knowledge and improved patient care.

All of the patients undergoing therapy for cancer of the head and neck at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are offered an opportunity to participate in clinical outcomes research. Important treatment and outcomes information regarding consenting patients is carefully tracked in the head and neck tumor registry.

This database allows the physicians at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to obtain vital treatment-related outcomes information regarding their patients. This form of practiced-based learning has been funded through private philanthropy thanks to the Stout Family Fund for head and neck cancer research. This will assure that future generations can benefit from the experiences of today’s patients.

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