|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 – Head & Neck Surgery
Evan M. Graboyes, MD – Head & Neck Surgery/Microvascular
Judith M. Skoner, MD – Head & Neck Microvascular Reconstruction/ FPRS
Krishna Patel, MD, PhD – Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Jennifer Harper, MD – Radiation Oncology
Bhishamjit Chera, MD – Radiation Oncology
John Kaczmar, MD – Medical Oncology
Paul O’Brien, MD – Medical Oncology
Martin Steed, DDS – Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Mary Richardson DDS, MD – Head & Neck Pathology
Brad Neville DDS – Oral Pathology
Gisele Matheus, MD – Head & Neck Radiology
Vittoria Spampinato, MD – Head & Neck Radiology
Jyotika Fernandes, MD – Endocrine Oncology
|Alex Vandergift, MD – Neurosurgery/Skull Base Surgery
Sunil Patel, MD – Neurosurgery/Skull Base Surgery
Joel Cook, MD – Mohs & Dermatologic Oncology
Roy Sessions, MD – Head & Neck Surgery History and Ethics
Katherine Sterba, PhD – Quality of Life and Survivorship
Besim Ogretmen, PhD – Lipidomics in Head and Neck Cancer
Shikhar Mehrotra, PhD – Head & Neck Cancer Immunotherapy
Andrew G. Jakymiw, PhD – RNAi-Based Oral Cancer Therapies
Viswanathan Palanisamy, PhD – Craniofacial Biology
Angela Yoon, DDS – Improving Oral Epithelial Neoplasm Therapies
Overview: The Head and Neck Tumor Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is one of the largest programs in the US 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. The focus of the MUSC Head and Neck Tumor Center is on providing compassionate, comprehensive and innovative care to all patients and their families. Overall, 750 – 800 new patients with head and neck cancer 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, Nursing Navigation, Speech/ Swallowing Therapy, Dental Oncology, Nutrition, Social Work. Physical Therapy and related fields working together to provide the optimal care for head and neck cancer patients. In 2011, the Head and Neck Tumor Center was cited as the best interdisciplinary clinical program at MUSC. The Head and Neck Tumor Center also has an extremely robust research portfolio. Currently, the program has 15 open clinical trials in head and neck cancer, along with 10 NIH-funded basic science laboratories or translational research programs with over four million dollars annually in research funding. The MUSC Head and Neck Tumor Center is a division of the MUSC Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery but was approved as an institutional center at MUSC crossing many disciplines. The Department of Otolaryngology – HNS at MUSC is ranked 14th nationally among Otolaryngology departments for NIH funding, with over $5.5 million in current grants.
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. The Fellow enters as Clinical Instructor level faculty and would perform approximately 150 – 280 major cases per year as primary surgeon. Depending on their level of interest, the fellow will participate in 50 – 100 cases of microvascular free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction. The Fellow also has the opportunity to perform surgical procedures with surgeons from other specialties, including Facial Plastics, Dermatologic Surgery, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Ophthalmology, Thoracic Surgery, and Vascular Surgery. In addition to working with senior faculty in a clinical setting, the Fellow also has an independent head and neck cancer clinic In this setting, the fellow evaluates new patients each week and has primary management responsibility for all patients seen in their clinic, with attending input and oversight as needed. All patients evaluated in the Fellow’s clinic who require surgical intervention are operated upon by the Fellows with the supervision or assistance of senior faculty as appropriate. In this manner, the Fellow has the opportunity to function largely independently as junior faculty in accordance with their skill and experience levels. The Fellow also will have short clinical rotations with specialists from Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Oral Pathology, Head & Neck Pathology, Speech Pathology and others according to interests. Research opportunities abound. The Fellow participates in all Head and Neck Clinical Trials meetings and is required to complete at least one translational research project during the fellowship along with other clinical studies or review projects. For those interested in undertaking more dedicated research time, there is the potential option to devote an additional year exclusively to research. US News & World Report ranks The Department of Otolaryngology – HNS at MUSC 14th nationally, and ranks MUSC as the #1 hospital in South Carolina. The Department of Otolaryngology-HNS at MUSC is one of the highest among Otolaryngology departments for NIH funding, with over $5.5 million in current grants.
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 the treatment of complex endoscopic and open 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.
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.
Research Opportunities: 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.
Viswanathan Palanisamy, Ph.D. – 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, Ph.D. – 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.
Shikhar Mehrotra Ph.D. – 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.
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.
Katherine R. Sterba, PhD – Associate 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. Recently, 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.
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.
Supervision, Teaching & Call: The Fellow 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 Fellow will work under the supervision of senior faculty but will also have the opportunity to increasingly function independently during the course of the training year as appropriate. Trainees are evaluated monthly by program faculty and semiannual reviews are performed with the Program Director in person. The Fellow participates in on-call duties as faculty within the MUSC Dept of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
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, SC.
2011-2012 Akash Anand, M.D. – Private Practice, Metairie, LA.
2012-2013 Arnaud Bewley, M.D. – University of California, Davis
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, 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
2021-2022 Julian Amin, M.D. – current Fellow
2021-2022 Alana Aylward, M.D. – current Fellow