A Close Collaboration with NIH
Date: December 2, 2013
When laryngologist Clint Allen was a medical student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, he spent a year getting a taste of performing basic research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Working under the mentorship of Carter Van Waes, chief of the Head and Neck Surgery Branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Allen helped advance understanding of some of the dysregulated growth and survival pathways in head and neck cancer.
Starting this October, Allen has been able to collaborate with his former mentor once again. He’s now practicing at Johns Hopkins’ budding Otolaryngology?Head and Neck Surgery practice in Bethesda, Md., as part of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center while also performing research at the NIH. Allen joins two other Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology surgeon-scientists already practicing at Suburban: rhinologist Murugappan (Murray) Ramanathan and otologist Wade Chien.
Allen’s primary research interests focus on how head and neck cancers evade the body’s natural antitumor immune responses. Using a mouse model of oral cancer developed by one of Allen’s previous mentors from Washington University in St. Louis, Ravindra Uppaluri, Allen and his colleagues will test compounds that could interfere with this interaction and open a new avenue to treat these cancers.
Better understanding of how cancers arise and grow could eventually offer less toxic means of controlling head and neck cancer.
“Everything we do from the research side,” says Allen, “is designed to make patient care better. As such, it is critical that we maximize access to clinically relevant research protocols for our patients.”
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