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Head & Neck, Sarcoma, and Endocrine CRT


  • Provide expert multidisciplinary care for head and neck cancer patients
  • Increase access to novel treatment strategies for patients with all stages of head and neck cancer
    - Total EGFR blockade
    - Immunotherapy
    - Radiation priming IIT
  • Build chemoprevention and behavioral health programs to better serve catchment area, provide foundation for research into HNC prevention

Yale Head and Neck Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence Aims:

  • Aim 1: To overcome resistance to EGFR inhibition in HNSCC by targeting active conformations of ErbB family members;
  • Aim 2: To advance rational synthetic lethal combination therapy to the clinic in HPV-negative HNSCC;
  • Aim 3: To advance combination demethylating therapy with immune checkpoint inhibition to the clinic for HPV-mediated HNSCC, with mechanistic studies and characterization of immune response;
  • Aim 4: To bolster the foundation for HNSCC research through our Administrative, Biospecimen and Biostatistics/Bioinformatics cores, to engage institutional resources and the wider SPORE community;
  • Aim 5: To advance new research and to foster the next generation of HNSCC translational researchers through a Developmental Research Program, a Career Enhancement Program, and interaction and collaboration with the wider SPORE and HNSCC research communities.

SPORE Monthly Meetings: Tuesday @ 1:15pm - 2:15pm

Head & Neck, Sarcoma, and Endocrine Team Leader


  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Clinical Research Team Leader, Head and Neck Cancers Program

    Research Interests
    • Head and Neck Neoplasms
    • Medical Oncology
  • Anthony N. Brady Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Chief Translational Research Officer, Yale Cancer Center; Chief, Head and Neck Cancers/Sarcoma; Co-Leader, Developmental Therapeutics, Yale Cancer Center; Associate Cancer Center Director for Translational Research, Yale Cancer Center

    Research Interests
    • Drug Therapy
    • Head and Neck Neoplasms
    • Medical Oncology
    • Chemicals and Drugs
    • Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment
    Barbara Burtness, MD is Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) at the Yale School of Medicine, Chief Translational Research Officer, and Associate Cancer Center Director for Translational Research at the Yale Cancer Center. She serves as Co-Leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Program, Division Chief for Head and Neck/Sarcoma Oncology, and Director of the Yale Head and Neck Specialized Program of Research Excellence. Dr. Burtness is internationally recognized for her research in head and neck cancer. She chairs the ECOG-ACRIN Cooperative Group Head and Neck Cancer Therapeutics Committee and the ECOG-ACRIN Task Force for the Advancement of Women, and leads national and international trials of targeted therapy in head and neck cancer. Her laboratory studies synthetic lethal therapeutic strategies in head and neck cancer and the targeting of aurora kinase A to overcome adaptive resistance to EGFR inhibition and - in lung cancer- to direct KRAS inhibition.
  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Clinical Research Team Leader Sarcoma, Medical Oncology; Director Medical Oncology Inpatient Consult Service, Medical Oncology

    Research Interests
    • Chondrosarcoma
    • Leiomyosarcoma
    • Liposarcoma
    • Osteosarcoma
    • Soft Tissue Neoplasms
    • Sarcoma, Synovial
    • Thyroid Neoplasms
    • Neoplasms, Connective and Soft Tissue
    • Liposarcoma, Myxoid
    Dr. Hari Deshpande, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Medical Oncology, cares for patients with sarcomas along with the sarcoma multidisciplinary team.Previously in practice at both the New London Cancer Center and Las Vegas Cancer Center, Dr. Deshpande also has clinical interests in sarcomas, cancers of unknown primary, and thyroid cancers. He is a member of the Head and Neck Cancer and GU cancer teams. He is the Director of the Medical Oncology Inpatient Consult service.Learn more about Dr. Deshpande>>
  • Charles W. Ohse Professor of Surgery (Otolaryngology); Chief, Division of Otolaryngology, Yale Medicine; Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, Surgery

    Research Interests
    • Neoplasms
    • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases
    Dr. Judson is a head and neck surgeon, investigator, educator, and healthcare leader. His previous positions include serving as Program Director of the Yale Otolaryngology Residency and Chief Ambulatory Officer of Smilow Cancer Hospital.   His surgical practice focuses on the treatment of benign and malignant tumors and other surgical disorders of the head and neck. He was the first in New England to perform trans oral robotic surgery and specializes in minimally invasive surgical approaches including endoscopic laser and tailored open surgeries. He routinely operates on complex and difficult cases and works with a multidisciplinary team of other surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation doctors, and other specialist providers.   As an investigator, Dr. Judson started a tumor biorepository that supports multiple laboratory investigations of head and neck cancer at Yale and other institutions. He is the principal investigator of the Yale Larynx laboratory, which has functioned since 1972, and currently focuses on the role of bile acid reflux in hypopharyngeal carcinogenesis and identifying saliva biomarkers of head and neck cancer. He was an early investigator using large national databases to study uncommon head and neck tumors and address questions about treatment and outcomes of head and neck cancers that have not been assessed through randomized clinical trials.  He is Associate Editor of the journal Head & Neck.   Dr. Judson attended Middlebury College, obtained a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and graduated from Jefferson Medical College. He completed a residency at Georgetown University Hospital in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, and a fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Head and Neck Surgical Oncology. Before working in medicine, he was a Peace Corp Volunteer in Sri Lanka and worked as Assistant Deputy Mayor of the City of Philadelphia. He completed a Master of Business Administration degree at the Yale School of Management in 2022.
  • Associate Professor of Surgery (Otolaryngology); Section Chief, Head and Neck Surgery, Otolaryngology Surgery; Director, Head and Neck Oncologic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship, Surgery

    Research Interests
    • Head and Neck Neoplasms
    • Health Services Research
    • Microsurgery
    • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
    • Plastic Surgery Procedures
    Dr. Saral Mehra earned his Medical Degree from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, and a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia Business School. He then went on to a residency in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital / Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  He completed his training at Mt Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center with a highly coveted Fellowship in Head and Neck and Thyroid Cancer surgery, with further sub-specialization in complex reconstructive surgery including the use of free tissue transfer through state-of the art microvascular surgical techniques.  During training, Dr. Mehra was awarded the Department’s research award twice, the Department’s teaching award at his graduation, and the Distinguished House Staff award from New York Hospital.  Now at Yale, he currently serves as Chief of the Section of Head and Neck Surgery, Director of the Head and Neck Tumor Board, and the Fellowship Director for our Internationally renowned Advanced Training Program in Head and Neck Oncologic and Reconstructive Surgery.  He has continued to receive teaching and clinical accolades from within the Institution and beyond.  He is proud to be part of an incredible Head and Neck Disease team at Yale delivering cutting edge multi-disciplinary care to patients far and wide.Learn more about Dr. Mehra>>Dr. Mehra’s clinical practice focuses on treating patients with Head and Neck, Salivary, and Thyroid diseases, particularly cancer including advanced reconstruction and rehabilitation. He sees patients with all stages of cancer, from early stage to far advanced and recurrent cancers of the head and neck.  He makes use of the latest in minimally invasive techniques such as transoral laser and robotic surgery.  He also has special interest in minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment of salivary disease with use of salivary endoscopy.His primary research interests are in measuring and improving the quality of life in patients being treated for head and neck cancers, as well as leveraging his Business education to perform Health Services research with the goal of measuring and thus improving the quality of care delivered to such patients.Dr. Mehra has over 100 peer-reviewed publications, a number of book chapters, and regularly presents original research at National and International meetings. He is an active Member of the American Head and Neck Society.
  • Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology; Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Therapeutic Radiology; Chief, Thoracic Radiotherapy Program, Therapeutic Radiology; Assistant Medical Director, Clinical Trials Office, Yale Cancer Center; Head of College, Purple College, Office of Student Affairs

    Research Interests
    • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
    • Head and Neck Neoplasms
    • Lung Neoplasms
    • Radiation
    • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma
    • Mentoring
    Dr. Henry S. Park is a board-certified radiation oncologist who serves as associate professor, vice chair for clinical research, and chief of thoracic radiotherapy for the Department of Therapeutic Radiology at the Yale School of Medicine. For the Yale Cancer Center, he is an assistant medical director of the Clinical Trials Office, through which he leads the radiation oncology committee and is associate leader of the lung clinical research team. For the medical school's Office of Student Affairs, he is the head of one of the six advisory colleges. He has previously held roles as the associate residency program director, medical student electives director, and continuing medical education director for radiation oncology. Dr. Park received his undergraduate degree from Yale College, master's degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, and medical doctorate degree from the Yale School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine internship at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before returning to Yale New Haven Hospital for his residency and chief residency in radiation oncology. Dr. Park subspecializes in radiation therapy for lung cancer and head and neck cancer, maintaining a busy clinical practice in New Haven. He leads a wide-ranging research program in clinical trials, real-world evidence, and health services. He has co-authored over 135 peer-reviewed original research articles and 45 reviews, book chapters, invited editorials, and practice guidelines. He serves as an oral and written boards examiner for the American Board of Radiology and as an active committee member for the American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Radium Society, SWOG, ECOG-ACRIN, and NRG. He has been honored with multiple awards for his contributions to patient care, clinical research, and medical education. Learn more about Dr. Park>>
  • Assistant Professor of Surgery (Otolaryngology)

    Avanti Verma, MD has returned to Yale after completing her undergraduate studies here. She earned her medical degree from New York University where she also completed her residency training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. During her residency, she developed an interest in caring for head and neck cancer patients and was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She subsequently completed fellowship training in Head and Neck Surgical Oncology with Microvascular Reconstruction at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.Dr. Verma focuses on the surgical treatment of patients with both benign and cancerous tumors of the head and neck, including thyroid and salivary diseases. Her clinical practice ranges from advanced reconstruction to minimally invasive techniques such as robotic surgery. She prioritizes the aesthetic and functional outcomes of her patients.
  • Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology; Medical Director, Radiation Oncology Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in New Haven, Therapeutic Radiology; Chief, Head and Neck Radiotherapy Program, Therapeutic Radiology

    Dr. Young completed her MD, PhD training as part of the medical scientist training program in Dallas, Texas at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in 2010. She then continued her training in Radiation Oncology at the Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital, and stayed on to join the faculty ranks in 2015. She specializes in Head and Neck and Gynecologic malignancies at the Smilow Cancer Hospital main campus, she also has a general Radiation Oncology practice in Trumbull, CT, where she also serves as the Gynecologic and Head and Neck cancer lead physician.  She serves as medical director of the New Haven Radiation Oncology center at Smilow Cancer hospital, and has additional clinical emphasis in treatment of skin cancer.

Career Enhancement Program

A critical element to ensure new advances that translate research from bench to bedside is to attract, foster, and support new investigators in this area.

Developmental Research Program

The primary goal of the Developmental Research Program (DRP) of the Yale SPORE in Head & Neck Cancer (YHN-SPORE) is to identify and fund innovative pilot projects.