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Tumor Biology Section

Carter Van Waes, M.D., Ph.D., Scientist Emeritus

Research Statement

The Head and Neck Surgery Branch (HNSB) includes the Tumor Biology Section and Clinical Genomics, which conduct laboratory clinical studies and trials concerning the pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of head and neck neoplasms that affect human communication. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the most prevalent malignancy involving the upper aerodigestive tract which affects voice, speech, taste, smell, hearing, and balance as well as survival. About 52,000 Americans develop neoplasms of the upper aerodigestive tract each year, and approximately 320,000 Americans currently suffer significant impairment of communication and other disability as a result of tumor destruction or ablative surgical and radiation therapy. Despite therapy, more than 8,000 of these patients die annually in the U.S. New modalities for prevention and therapy are needed in order to improve survival and preservation of function.

Current Areas of Interest

Dr. Carter Van Waes with lab personnel
Dr. Van Waes with Medical Research Scholars
Program students Danielle Eytan and Suresh
Mohan in the Clinical Genomics Unit.
Dr. Carter Van Waes's lab personnel
Anthony Saleh, research fellow, presenting his 
work on microRNAs in head and neck cancer
at a conference.
Dr. Carter Van Waes's lab personnel
Howard Hughes Scholar Carol Yan presents her 
poster on kinase CK2 and transcription factor 
p73 in cancer stem cells at a conference.

Genomics and molecular targeted therapeutics for head and neck cancer

A major current focus of the HNSB is to identify and determine the function of genomic alterations that cause head and neck cancers. We have collaborated with the Cancer Genome Atlas Network to complete a comprehensive genomic analysis of HNSCC and multi-platform analysis across 12 cancer types. Additionally, we are completing structural and functional genomic studies of HNSCC lines using genome wide exome, RNA, and RNAi screening, and using genetically engineered mouse models of HNSCC to establish the function of genomic and molecular alterations. These studies have identified key genomic drivers of signal pathway and transcription factor networks previously discovered by our and other laboratories, which will enable investigation of new molecularly targeted agents for therapy and prevention.

Among these, amplifications, deletions, or mutations of receptors and kinases regulating the PI3K, NF-kappaB and MAPK pathways support earlier findings linking co-activation of these pathways and the malignant phenotype. A major subset lacking these alterations have amplifications of Cyclin D1 (CCND1) with Fas Associated Death Domain (FADD) and Inhibitor of Apoptosis gene BIRC2, that regulate proliferation and cell survival or death. Agents targeting PI3K, MAPK and IAPs demonstrate activity and therapeutic promise in preclinical laboratory studies. 

Employment Opportunities

For information about employment opportunities, contact:

Carter Van Waes
Chief, Head and Neck Surgery Branch
Clinical Director, NIDCD
Building 10, CRC Room 4-2732
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: (301) 402-4216
Fax: (301) 402-1140

Clinical and Office Personnel

Office of the Clinical Director

Lab Personnel

Selected Publications

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