|Medical University of South Carolina
Head & Neck Tumor Center,
Hollings Cancer Center
MSC550, 135 Rutledge Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425
|Number of Fellowships: 2
Duration (in years) / Type: 1 year / Clinical
Jason G. Newman, MD, FACS – Head & Neck Surgery, Division Chair /Fellowship Director
Judith M. Skoner, MD – H&N Microvascular Reconstruction/ Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Evan M. Graboyes, MD – H&N Surgery/Microvascular Reconstruction
W. Greer Albergotti III, MD – H&N Surgery/Microvascular Reconstruction
Alexandra E. Kejner, MD – H&N Surgery/Microvascular Reconstruction
Byung Joo Lee, DDS – H&N Maxillofacial Prosthodontics & Oral Oncology
Krishna G. Patel, MD, PhD – Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Michelle Hwang, MD – Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Jennifer Harper, MD – Radiation Oncology
Bhishamjit Chera, MD – Radiation Oncology
John Kaczmar, MD – Medical Oncology
Martin Steed, DDS – Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Mary Richardson DDS, MD – Head & Neck Pathology
M. Gisele Matheus, MD – Head & Neck/Neuroradiology
M. Vittoria Spampinato, MD – Head & Neck/Neuroradiology
Seth T. Stalcup, MD – Head & Neck/Neuroradiology
Jyotika Fernandes, MD – Endocrine Oncology
Alex Vandergrift, MD – Neurosurgery/Skull Base Surgery
The Head and Neck Tumor Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is one of the largest programs in the U.S. devoted to the care of the head and neck cancer patient. The program is based within the Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC, the only NCI-designated cancer center in South Carolina. In 2021, US News & World Report ranked the MUSC Department of Otolaryngology-HNS #15 nationally, and MUSC as the #1 hospital in South Carolina. The focus of the MUSC Head and Neck Tumor Center is providing compassionate, comprehensive and innovative care to all H&N patients and their families. Overall, 750 – 800 new head and neck oncologic patients are evaluated at MUSC annually. The MUSC Head and Neck Tumor Center has a strong multidisciplinary focus, with providers from Head and Neck Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Maxillofacial Prosthodontics, Nursing Navigation, Speech/ Swallowing Therapy, Dental Oncology, Nutrition, Social Work, Physical Therapy and other related fields, all working together to provide optimal care for head and neck cancer patients. The MUSC Head and Neck Tumor Center within the NCI-designated MUSC Hollings Cancer Center has an extremely robust research portfolio with over 20 actively recruiting clinical trials in head and neck oncology. There are 7 NIH-funded basic science, translational, and clinical research programs focused on head and neck oncology within the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center with over $4 million annually in research support. The Department of Otolaryngology-HNS at MUSC is one of the highest for grants among Otolaryngology departments, with over $5 million in NIH funding.
The Fellowship in Surgical Oncology and Microvascular Reconstruction of the Head and Neck at MUSC provides the highest level of training in the management and surgical treatment of head and neck cancer. Fellows enter as Clinical Instructor level faculty and are anticipated to perform approximately 150 – 280 major cases per year as primary surgeon. Depending on their level of interest, fellows will participate in 50 – 100 cases of microvascular free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction over the year. Each Fellow also has an opportunity to perform surgical procedures alongside other specialties including Facial Plastics, Rhinology, Neurotology, Dermatologic Surgery, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ophthalmology, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery. In addition to working with senior faculty in a clinical setting, Fellows also have an independent Head & Neck cancer clinic. In this setting, Fellows evaluate new patients each week and have primary responsibility for all patients seen in their clinic, with attending oversight as needed. All patients evaluated in the Fellow clinics who require surgical intervention are operated upon by the Fellows, with supervision or assistance of senior faculty as appropriate. In this manner, Fellows have the opportunity to function largely independently as junior faculty in accordance with their skill and experience level. Fellows also will have short clinical rotations with specialists from Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Head & Neck Pathology, HN Speech Pathology and others according to interests. Research opportunities abound. The Fellows participate in all Head and Neck Clinical Trials meetings and are required to complete at least one translational research project during the fellowship along with clinical studies or review projects. For those interested in undertaking more dedicated research time, there is a potential option to devote an additional year exclusively to research.
Objectives: The goals and objectives of the Fellowship in Surgical Oncology and Microvascular Reconstruction of the Head and Neck are as follows:
1. Provide comprehensive, hands-on training in Head and Neck Surgery, including endoscopic, robotic and open surgical treatment of complex aerodigestive, cutaneous, endocrine and skull base neoplasms.
2. Establish a strong foundation in research methods in preparation for a career in academic Head and Neck Surgery.
3. Instill a team-based multidisciplinary approach and philosophy for addressing the most complex issues confronting the Head and Neck surgeon.
4. Provide thorough training in microvascular techniques for reconstruction of head and neck defects.
Supervision, Teaching & Call: Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in the outpatient evaluation and treatment, inpatient care, and surgical treatment of over 300 new patients per year. The Fellows will work under the supervision of senior faculty but also have the opportunity to increasingly function independently during the course of the training year as appropriate at both MUSC and the VA. Trainees are evaluated monthly by program faculty and semiannual reviews are performed with the Program Director. Fellows participate in on-call duties as attending faculty within the MUSC Dept of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Eligibility: Applicants for the head and neck oncologic and reconstructive fellowship must have completed a residency program in Otolaryngology, General Surgery or Plastic Surgery. The applicant should have significant experience in surgery of the head and neck and be BC/BE in Otolaryngology, General Surgery, or Plastic Surgery. A South Carolina medical license must be obtained prior to the fellowship year as well as VA privileges. Applicants are required to complete a written application, including three letters of reference, and a personal on-site interview. All interested US and Canadian fellowship applicants must be registered with the Match Program of the Advanced Training Council of The American Head and Neck Society to be considered for a position. The Medical University of South Carolina is an equal opportunity affirmative action employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
The following provides a brief list of current NIH-funded researchers engaged in head and neck oncology research at MUSC/Hollings Cancer Center with whom fellows may spend time to further their scientific training:
Evan M. Graboyes, MD, MPH – Associate Professor, Departments of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and Public Health Sciences:
Dr. Graboyes’ research focuses on the development, evaluation, and implementation of multilevel interventions to improve cancer care delivery and quality of life among patients with HNC. His program has two major ongoing areas of investigation. The Head and Neck Cancer Healthcare Delivery Research Program aims to improve the delivery of timely, equitable, guideline-adherent care among patients with head and neck cancer through the development and implementation of theory-based, multilevel interventions. The primary goal of the Head and Neck Cancer Body Image Research Program is to improve quality of life for head and neck cancer survivors through the development of novel interventions to prevent and treat body image-related distress among head and neck cancer survivors.
Andrew G. Jakymiw PhD – Associate Professor, Oral Health Sciences:
Dr. Jakymiw’s research focuses on the study of RNAi-based therapies for oral cancer. In particular, the laboratory is currently involved in developing cell penetrating peptide-mediated targeted delivery strategies of therapeutic siRNA molecules for the treatment of oral cancer. Moreover, his laboratory is also pursuing the study of RNA silencing biology and how dysregulation of its molecular components can contribute to disease, in particular oral cancer. The goal of his research is to gain further insights into the molecular causes of oral cancer, identify novel biomarkers for this disease, and develop novel therapeutic strategies for treating oral cancer.
Shikhar Mehrotra PhD – Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Dr. Mehrotra’s research group focuses on understanding T cell biology for improving immunotherapy of cancer. In order to generate tumor reactive T cells that can persist longer, and lead to control of tumor growth, Mehrotra lab is testing several strategies by understanding the overlap that exists between the immune cell signaling pathways and cellular metabolic state associated with it. They previously described a novel strategy to demarcate effector T cells based on cell surface thiol (c-SH) expression into c-SHhi and c-SHlo T cells. They showed high anti-oxidant property is central to potent anti-tumor effector T cells, and directly correlates to CD62Lhi central memory (Tcm), low glycolytic and low mitochondrial membrane potential phenotype, all of which may be linked and contribute to better tumor control. More recently, his group has shown that targeting non-canonical ectonucleotidase CD38 on T cells could lead to a potent and long-term control of tumor mediated by anti-tumor T cells by maintaining higher levels of NAD+ (a cofactor and substrate for various post-translational modifications). His group is also working to combine strategies where targeting kinases with checkpoint blockade could enhance effectiveness of ACT. Another study from his group showed that PIM kinase inhibition leads to drop in glycolysis and maintenance of Tcm phenotype. Further, a combination of PIM kinase inhibitor administered along with anti-PD1 and ACT leads to a robust tumor control. Thus, the overall goal remains to translate the novel pre-clinical approaches targeting immuno-metabolism to clinics for improving the outcomes of T-cell based immunotherapy trials.
Viswanathan Palanisamy, PhD – Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr. Palanisamy’s laboratory is interested in a fundamental and translational research program to study the post-transcriptional gene regulation during oral cancer development and progression. The primary focus of the laboratory is to analyze the contribution of an unusual form of post-transcriptional gene expression, to RNA metabolism and the adaptation of RNA turnover and translation and their associated proteins to this process. Our research hypothesis builds on the discoveries made over the past years with a focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms of RNA binding proteins and non-coding RNAs in oral cancer and to translate these findings into clinical applications designed to repress the progression of the disease favorably. The mRNA binding proteins influence critical aspects of mRNA metabolism including nuclear transit, export to the cytoplasm, cytoplasmic transport, storage, translation, and turnover. RNA-binding proteins modulate the cellular response to stress, proliferative signals, immune triggers, and developmental cues. Given RBP influence on the expression of crucial modulators, there must be the most significant interest in studying the RBP binding mRNAs and non-coding RNAs and how they are regulated under the inhibitory and/or knockdown conditions in oral cancer and mucositis mouse models. Hence, our primary focus is to decipher how RBPs influences the gene expression of oral cancer and mucositis via RNA metabolism using cell culture and mouse models. In total, our research will open up the unstudied aspects of RNA metabolism in normal and oral cancer and will lead to advances in therapeutic interventions.
Besim Ogretmen, PhD – Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Dr. Ogretmen’s research focuses on defining the molecular and biochemical mechanisms by which sphingolipid signaling regulates cancer pathogenesis and therapeutics, His lab has been developed novel molecular, pharmacologic, and genetic tools to uncover mechanisms by which sphingolipids regulate cancer growth, metastasis, and anti-cancer therapeutics. They are also studying the mechanisms of lipid-regulated cancer metastasis and drug resistance in HPV associated head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Dr. Ogretmen is the PI of the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (P30, COBRE) in Lipidomics and Pathobiology at MUSC as well as a P01 focusing on targeting lipid signaling for cancer therapy.
Katherine R. Sterba, PhD –Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences:
Dr. Sterba’s research focuses broadly on the development, testing and dissemination of technology-focused clinic-based interventions for cancer survivors and their caregivers. Her research spans the intervention development spectrum and is guided by behavioral theories and implementation science principles to facilitate behavior change and timely intervention uptake. These interventions include provider training, education, and technology and workflow modification elements with monitoring of implementation fidelity to guide future program expansion. Her research uses mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) and relies on collaborations with interdisciplinary teams and community members. She has a number of recently completed and ongoing clinical trials evaluating the effects of technology-enabled survivorship care interventions for head and neck cancer survivors and their primary caregivers. She also co-directs the Dissemination and Implementation Science Collaborative (DISC) in MUSC’s Clinical and Translational Research Institute and leads the evaluation of telehealth service implementation for MUSC through its Center for Telehealth.
Angela Yoon, DDS – Professor, Oral Health Sciences:
Dr. Yoon’s research focuses on the translation of laboratory science into new molecular risk assessment strategies, and to improve therapies for oral epithelial neoplasms. She has a background in public health, dentistry, and oral medicine, and has dedicated a considerable part of her career to the diagnosis and management of oral precancers and cancers. Devoted to improving clinical management, she has conducted a number of studies assessing the molecular diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of oral neoplasm. She has also led clinical trials, both investigator-initiated and multi-centered, evaluating the efficacy of chemopreventive agents of oral cancer. Her team has focused on assessing the prognostic utility of microRNA-based markers for oral cancer patients. She has developed strong clinical and laboratory collaborations with researchers across multiple disciplines including pathology, dentistry, epidemiology, and oncology.
PAST MUSC HN FELLOWS (and initial post-fellowship positions)
2002-2003 Michael Burnett, M.D. – New York Otolaryngology Group, New York, NY
2003-2004 Serap Koybasi, M.D. – Abant Izzet Baysal University, Bolu, Turkey
2004-2005 Joshua D. Hornig, M.D. – Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
2005-2006 Allen O. Mitchell, M.D. – Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA.
2006-2007 Oleg N. Militsakh, M.D. – University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
2007-2008 Luke O. Buchmann, M.D. – University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
2008-2009 Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D. – Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
2009-2010 Tanya Fancy, M.D. – West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, WV
2010-2011 Wayne Cardoni, M.D. – National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD.
2010-2011 Trinitia Cannon, M.D. – University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK
2011-2012 Barry T. Malin, M.D., M.P.P. – Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
2011-2012 Akash Anand, M.D. – Private Practice, Metairie, LA
2012-2013 Arnaud Bewley, M.D. – University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA
2012-2013 Mayuri Rajapurkar, M.D. – Private Practice, Nadiad, Gurarat, India
2013-2014 Jeffrey Houlton, M.D. – University of Washington, Seattle, WA
2013-2014 Paul Tennant, M.D. – University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
2014-2015 Rusha Patel, M.D. – West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
2014-2015 Shaum Sridharan, M.D. – University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
2015-2016 Sobia Khaja, M.D. – University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
2015-2016 Elizabeth Nicolli, M.D. – University of Miami, Miami, FL
2016-2017 Evan M. Graboyes, M.D. –Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
2016-2017 Suhael Momin, M.D. – Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI
2017-2018 Greer Albergotti, M.D. – Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA
2017-2018 Robert Brody, M.D. – University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
2018-2019 Angela Haskins, M.D. – Baylor University, Houston, TX
2018-2019 Mark Kubik, M.D. – University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
2019-2020 Peter Horwich, M.D. – Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA
2019-2020 Mahmoud Awad, M.D. – United Health Services, Johnson City, NY
2020-2021 Vilija Jo Vaitaitis, M.D. – Louisiana State University, New Orleans, LA
2020-2021 Joel Davies, M.D. – Sinai Health System, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada
2021-2022 Alana Aylward, M.D. – Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA
2021-2023 Julian Amin, M.D. – Current Fellow