Head & Neck Cancer Symposium a Success

in Oral Cancer Research Initiative
May 30th, 2014

Keynote speaker Dr. Jatin P. Shah

Keynote speaker Dr. Jatin P. Shah

Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute co-hosted the first annual Head & Neck Cancer Symposium on April 28, 2014, in the Metcalf Trustee Ballroom on the Charles River Campus. The event, “Head & Neck Cancer Symposium: translating research to therapy and cure,” brought basic scientists and clinicians together to discuss the latest developments in head and neck cancer research and therapy. The intention of this meeting was to initiate and expand interactions between clinicians and researchers from diverse disciplines and to work toward bridging the translational gap.

This daylong event was well attended with engaging, high-profile speakers and participants. The agenda included 16 presentations, which were divided into four sessions: Early Detection and Progenitors; Biomarkers/Genomics; Epidemiology and HPV Disease; and Cancer Treatment and Recurrence. Each session was followed by a panel discussion, which gave participants an opportunity to ask questions and fully engage with the speakers and the material presented.

“We developed the symposium to bring basic scientists and clinicians together to discuss the latest developments in Head & Neck Cancer research and therapy,” said Associate Dean for Research Maria Kukuruzinska. “It is my belief and hope that the development of new collaborations will expedite the development of new strategies for disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure”.

The symposium included outstanding keynote addresses by Dr. Robert A. Weinberg, Founding Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dr. Jatin P. Shah, Chief of the Head and Neck Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Robert Weinberg’s keynote lecture, “Cancer stem cells and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in carcinomas,” discussed his innovative work on the molecular mechanisms that control carcinoma progression and metastasis. Dr. Jatin Shah’s keynote address, “The changing role of the surgeon in multidisciplinary treatment of cancers of the head and neck,” reflected a more clinical perspective while emphasizing the critical importance of basic and translational research.

The symposium also included a poster session consisting of 21 poster presentations by researchers and clinicians from throughout New England. The prize for best poster, sponsored by the American Association for Dental Research, was awarded to Dr. Fatemeh Momen Heravi, University of Massachusetts Medical School, for her poster “Extracellular miRNA signature in saliva of patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma.” The quality of the posters was so exceptional that a second place prize, sponsored by the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology at GSDM, was awarded by Dr. David Levin, Chair of the Department, to Ms. Megan Sulciner, Harvard Medical School, for her poster “Specialized pro-resolving mediators stimulate the resolution of head & neck tumor debris-associated inflammation.”

The symposium was generously supported by GSDM. Additional support was provided by the American Association for Dental Research, the Boston University Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care, the Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and Stryker CMF. In addition, KLS Martin, Medtronic, Oasis Diagnostics, Olympus, Stryker, and Synthes participated as exhibitors.

“This symposium was a wonderful opportunity to bring together scientists and clinicians working towards a cure for head and neck cancers,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter. “It is my hope that many of the connections made at this event will lead to research collaborations and advances in head and neck cancer therapy in the future.”

Photos are available on Facebook and Flickr.