GSDM and OCRI Mark World Head & Neck Cancer Day with Lunch & Learn

On Thursday, July 27th, the Oral Cancer Research Initiative (OCRI) and the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) marked World Head & Neck Cancer Day with a Lunch & Learn. The Lunch & Learn event explored multiple facets of head and neck cancer research, including biobanking and clinical outcomes research. Students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty from GSDM and BU School of Medicine attended this event.

Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Associate Dean for Research at GSDM and Director of the OCRI, opened the Lunch & Learn with a short presentation on the current state of head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancer is a devastating disease with poor survival rates and significant treatment-associated morbidity. Despite recent advances, researchers are still investigating the molecular events that cause the disease to develop and progress. Identifying and understanding these mechanisms is a vital step to develop better detection, prevention, and treatment strategies.

Dr. Ann Marie Egloff’s presentation was titled, “Increasing Cancer Cell Line Diversity: A Precision Medicine Imperative.” Dr. Egloff is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology at GSDM and in the Department of Otolaryngology at BU School of Medicine. She is also the Director of the Translational Oncology Core at the BU-BMC Cancer Center. Dr. Egloff presented on the importance of increased cell line diversity, given that head and neck cancer is molecularly diverse, as well as ethical and social considerations for biobanking and cell line generation. Researchers at BMC are working to better understand patient and community attitudes towards biobanking and cell line generation, which will strengthen future biobanking efforts.

Mr. Gintas Krisciunas presented on “Head and Neck Cancer Morbidity: Hard to Swallow?”. Dr. Krisciunas is a Research Assistant Professor in Otolaryngology at Boston University School of Medicine. He presented on clinical outcomes research, which investigates how to improve patient care through direct intervention and diagnostic tools. In head and neck cancer, dysphagia is the most common problematic outcome from treatment. Mr. Krisciunas’s talk elaborated on the current research being done on dysphagia in head and neck cancer patients at BMC, including tools to measure its severity and potential interventions.

World Head and Neck Cancer Day was declared by the International Federation of Head and Neck Cancer Oncological Societies (IFHNOS). IFHNOS is a global organization composed of national and regional societies in the field of head and neck surgery and oncology. The organization is dedicated to providing a common platform for head and neck cancer specialists to interact, educate each other, and collaborate. World Head and Neck Cancer Day aims to advocate for better awareness, prevention, and detection of HNSCC, as well as to further educate medical professionals about this disease.

“I would like to thank everyone who participated in this important event”, said Dr. Kukuruzinska. “It was important to take the time to mark World Head & Neck Cancer Day with these informative and timely discussions.”