Head and Neck Oncology Research at Mount Sinai

Head and neck cancer is a complex and increasingly prevalent disease, with more than 50,000 Americans diagnosed with it each year. Advances in pathology, imaging, surgery, genetics and targeted radiation and chemotherapy have significantly improved our ability at Mount Sinai to diagnose and treat head and neck cancer. However, much work lies ahead to improve symptoms associated with treatment and the overall quality of life for our patients.

Researchers at the Head and Neck Cancer Research Program in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and The Tisch Cancer Institute (part of the Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Center) are working diligently to improve treatment, technologies, and surgical techniques so our patients can return to their daily routines as quickly as possible. Our multidisciplinary group of surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, nutritionists, social workers, and speech and swallowing experts are committed to advancing personalized care and pioneering new treatment approaches through clinical research and translational studies.

Comprehensive Head and Neck Oncology Research

Our multidisciplinary research efforts draw on the vast scientific resources of the Mount Sinai Health System. While our research projects and clinical trials are diverse in focus, the common goal is to significantly improving our patients’ lives – whether they have a newly diagnosed, recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer.  Physicians and scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Mount Sinai Health System are actively pursuing a wide breadth of investigations, which include the following areas:

  • Tracheal transplantation
  • TransOral robotic surgery (TORS)
  • Improved surgical technology and techniques
  • Immune-based therapies
  • Reduced dose therapies for HPV-related head and neck cancers
  • Genetics based precision medicine studies
  • Disease based population studies
  • Sophisticated and experimental treatments for advanced unresectable metastatic/recurrent squamous cell carcinoma
  • Laboratory and clinical investigation of molecular pathways of tumor dormancy, growth, recurrence and metastasis
  • Psychological interventions for post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with therapy

Learn more and peruse the list of current investigations and clinical trials by visiting the Head and Neck Research and Clinical Trials page

Head and Neck Oncology Clinical Accomplishments

Advancing Robotic and Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

  • The advances we have made toward the treatment and cure of head and neck cancers are remarkable, reducing the prevalence of metastatic and residual disease among patients nationwide.
  • A catalyst in robotic surgery, our team developed the nation’s first course on TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) that attracted participants worldwide.
  • Additionally, Advaxis, Inc. and other pharmaceutical companies have chosen the Head and Neck Cancer Research Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to implement Phase I/II vaccination for HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer clinical trials. These companies sought an academic medical center known for its concentration on clinical trials, immunology, and TORS, and selected us as a site for these trials.

Tracheal Airway Disease and Tracheal Transplant Program

A team of more than 30 Mount Sinai surgeons and specialists, led by Eric M. Genden, MD, Chair of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the Mount Sinai Health System, performed the first-ever successful human trachea transplant. This achievement enabled this procedure to become a potential and viable life-saving treatment for thousands of patients around the world who have tracheal birth defects, untreatable airway diseases, burns, tumors, or severe tracheal damage from intubation—including those hospitalized with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator. Prior to this historic transplant, no long-term treatment for this patient population existed, and thousands of adults and children have been dying each year as a result.

Multidisciplinary Oncology Meetings and Support Programs at Mount Sinai

Our physicians and researchers conduct numerous conferences on a regular basis to review and advance treatment options that benefit our patients, including:

  • Monthly Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer tumor board with approximately 50 participants
  • Bi-weekly Head & Neck Tumor Board with approximately 20 participants
  • Bi-weekly Laryngology Conference with scientific and project updates
  • Monthly Disease Focus Group meeting to review program research
  • Monthly Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Research meetings

In addition to the extensive achievements at the Head and Neck Institute – Center of Excellence for Head and Neck Cancer, the team offers support programs to assist patients and loved ones through the process of diagnosis and treatment.