OCRI Hosts Lunch & Learn on Head & Neck Cancer Day

Pictured from left to right are Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter, Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Jeff Gallhue, Dr. Scharukh Jalisi, Robert David, and Dr. Ann Marie Egloff
Pictured from left to right are Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter, Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Jeff Gallhue, Dr. Scharukh Jalisi, Robert David, and Dr. Ann Marie Egloff

On Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) Oral Cancer Research Initiative (OCRI) marked World Head & Neck Cancer Day with a Lunch & Learn. This event featured a variety of perspectives on head and neck cancer, including discussion of current research, clinical treatments, and patient quality of life. Over thirty students, faculty, and staff members from GSDM and the greater Boston community participated in this event.

After an introduction from Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Associate Dean for Research at GSDM and Director of the OCRI, Dr. Scharukh Jalisi began the event with a clinical perspective on head and neck cancer. Dr. Jalisi is Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence and Division of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Skullbase Surgery at Boston Medical Center as well as Associate Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery. He presented on diagnosis and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer, including current limitations and challenges.

The second presentation was by Dr. Ann Marie Egloff and was titled “Translational Research in
Head and Neck Cancer: The Path to Precision Medicine”. Dr. Egloff is Research Associate Professor in the GSDM Department of Molecular & Cell Biology and the BUSM Department of Otolaryngology, as well as Director of Research in the Department of Otolaryngology.  She discussed the current state of head and neck cancer in the U.S. as well as the need and opportunities for Precision Medicine strategies.

Mr. Robert David, Manager of Cancer Support Services at Boston Medical Center, spoke on the patient perspective and the unique challenges of living with and surviving head and neck cancer. He introduced Mr. Jeff Gallahue, a survivor of head and neck cancer and a member of the Community Advisory Board of the proposed Greater Boston Head and Neck Cancer SPORE, to discuss his life before, during, and after cancer. Mr. Gallahue shared his experiences with humor and honesty, putting a human face on the struggles that come with diagnosis and treatment. Even something as mundane as having a drink with friends can become nearly impossible after treatment, and both clinicians and researchers need to continue to strengthen their understanding of patient needs to strengthen outcomes in terms of both mortality rates and quality of life.

“The diversity of perspectives at this event highlights the importance of collaboration and communication between clinicians, researchers, and patient advocates,” said Dr. Kukuruzinska. “Events like World Head & Neck Cancer Day provide an opportunity to bring a varied group of people together to learn from each other.”

“I am immensely proud of the work done by Dr. Kukuruzinska and GSDM’s Oral Cancer Research Initiative. This very informative Lunch and Learn on World Head & Neck cancer day will only enhance awareness and encourage more collaboration amongst people working in the field,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter.