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Head and Neck Cancers DART


  • 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.

Tumor Board Meetings: Mondays at 3:00pm

Clinical Research Meetings: Tuesdays at 1:15

SPORE Monthly Meetings: 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6PM


  • Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Interim Associate Cancer Center Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Chief, Head and Neck Cancers/Sarcoma; Disease Aligned Research Team Leader, Head and Neck Cancers Program; Co-Leader, Developmental Therapeutics, 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 and Interim Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Yale Cancer Center. She serves as Co-Leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Program, Leader of the Disease Aligned Research  for Head and Neck Cancer, 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 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.
  • Assistant Professor of Pathology; Residency Program Director, Pathology

    Research Interests
    • Bacterial Infections and Mycoses
    • Biliary Tract Diseases
    • Digestive System Diseases
    • Head and Neck Neoplasms
    • Hepatitis, Viral, Human
    • Neoplasms
    • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary
    • Pancreatic Neoplasms
    • Thyroid Gland
    Andrea Barbieri (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology. She provides clinical care as a surgical pathologist with expertise in endocrine, head and neck, gastrointestinal and liver pathology. She is a Michigan native and received her undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and MD from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. She subsequently completed her residency in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital in 2013 and gastrointestinal pathology fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2014. She is board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology. She co-leads the Community and Visibility working group of the Dean's Advisory Council on LGBTQI+ Affairs. She serves as the Executive Associate Residency Program Director for the Anatomic and Clinical Pathology residency training program.
  • Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Professor of Pathology; Vice Chair for Translational Research, Therapeutic Radiology; Scientific Director, Chênevert Family Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center

    Research Interests
    • DNA Repair
    • Glioma
    • Medical Oncology
    • Pediatrics
    • Radiology
    • Therapeutics
    • Central Nervous System Neoplasms
    • Radiation Oncology
    • Genomics
    • High-Throughput Screening Assays
    Dr. Ranjit Bindra is a physician-scientist at Yale School of Medicine and Co-Director of the Yale Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital. In the laboratory, his group recently led a team of four major laboratories at Yale, which reported the stunning discovery that IDH1/2-mutant tumors harbor a profound DNA repair defect that renders them exquisitely sensitive to PARP inhibitors. This work was published in Science Translational Medicine, and Nature, and it has received international attention with major clinical implications Dr. Bindra is now translating this work directly into patients, in four phase I/II clinical trials, including an innovative, biomarker-driven trial specifically targeting the Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA) cancer patient population. In addition, he is lead co-PI of a 35-site, NCI-sponsored Phase II trial testing the PARP inhibitor, olaparib, in adult IDH1/2-mutant solid tumors (NCT03212274). As a biotech entrepreneur he recently co-founded Cybrexa Therapeutics, a Series B round-funded company focused on developing an entirely new class of small molecule DNA repair inhibitors, which directly target the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Bindra received his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1998, and both his MD and PhD from the Yale School of Medicine in 2007. He completed his medical internship, radiation oncology residency, and post-doctoral research studies at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in 2012.Learn more about Dr. Bindra>>
  • Associate Professor; Chief Integration Officer and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Smilow Cancer Network

    Research Interests
    • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
    • Head and Neck Neoplasms
    • Lung Neoplasms
    • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma
    I currently serve as an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Medical Oncology, specializing in thoracic oncology, with a background in translational research in metastasis, as well as extensive experience in clinical practice in both academic and community settings.  My clinical focus has been to build a small cell lung cancer program at Yale with a comprehensive portfolio of clinical trials testing novel therapeutics for these patients.  My research interests focus on development of clinical trials and translational studies to test novel agents and combinations with immune checkpoint inhibitors for both small cell and non-small cell lung tumors.   In addition, I am the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Chief Integration Officer for Smilow Cancer Hospital (SCH).  I have helped to build our SCH Network and oversee operations, quality efforts and clinical research in our Smilow Care Centers.  I have a particular focus in quality measurement and improvement and have worked to achieve ASCO QOPI Certification for the entire Smilow academic clinical practice.  I have spearheaded quality initiatives locally and nationally for ASCO.  I am dedicated to quality improvement for patient-centered cancer services, and champion the use of patient-reported outcomes.      Learn more about Dr. Anne Chiang>>
  • Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and of Pharmacology; Co-Leader, Radiobiology and Genome Integrity, Yale Cancer Center; Vice Chair for Basic Science Research, Therapeutic Radiology; Chief, Central Nervous System Radiotherapy Program, Therapeutic Radiology

    Research Interests
    • Neoplasms
    • Radiobiology
    • Chemicals and Drugs
    Joseph N. Contessa, MD, PhD, a radiation oncologist, is the director of Yale Medicine’s Central Nervous System Radiotherapy Program. He specializes in treating patients with primary tumors of the brain, head and neck, and at the base of the skull.  “Due to Yale's large referral base, I frequently see relatively rare tumors,” he says, including low-grade and malignant gliomas, ependymomas, high-grade meningiomas, hemangiopericytomas, paragangliomas, and schwannomas. His expertise in treating uncommon cancers benefits patients diagnosed with these tumor types.  “I look forward to helping patients have the best possible outcome when they are faced with a challenging diagnosis,” he says.Dr. Contessa is a Professor of therapeutic radiology and of pharmacology at Yale School of Medicine where he is part of a team of physicians and scientists who are actively researching the cellular mechanisms that tumors use to evade or “outsmart” standard cancer therapies in hopes of identifying new approaches that improve treatment.“We are all working together to increase our knowledge, improve our care and beat cancer,” Dr. Contessa says.
  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Disease Aligned Research Team (DART) 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>>
  • Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology; Chief, Gamma Knife Program, Therapeutic Radiology; Co-Director, Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Body Radiotherapy Fellowship, Therapeutic Radiology

    Research Interests
    • Immune System Diseases
    • Neoplasms
    • Therapeutics
    Clinical areas of expertise are Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery, SBRT, Central Nervous System, Head and Neck, Lung, Lymphoma, Skin, GI, GU.
  • Charles W. Ohse Professor of Surgery (Otolaryngology); Chief, Division of Otolaryngology, Yale Medicine

    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
    • Reconstructive Surgical 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

    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 the Thoracic Radiotherapy Program for the Department of Therapeutic Radiology at the Yale School of Medicine. He 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 busy clinical practices in New Haven and Waterford. He leads an active research program in clinical trials, real-world evidence, and health services, having co-authored over 120 peer-reviewed original research articles and 40 reviews, book chapters, and invited editorials. He is the academic editor of the book "Lung Cancer: Modern Multidisciplinary Management" (2021). He has been honored with multiple awards for his contributions to patient care, clinical research, and medical education.Learn more about Dr. Park>>
  • Professor of Pathology; Director, Endocrine, Head & Neck Pathology Fellowship Program, Pathology; Director, Endocrine, Head and Neck Pathology, Pathology

    Research Interests
    • Endocrine System Diseases
    • Pathologic Processes
    • Pathology Department, Hospital
    • Pathology, Surgical
    I am an Oncologic Surgical Pathologist by training with a life-long interest in cancers of the head and neck including salivary glands, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands. Pathology is the study of the underlying mechanism of diseases which helps guide treatment individualized to each patient. I am deeply committed to teaching and extending my expertise to patients and physicians. I started the Endocrine, Head & Neck subspecialty pathology program in 2009, a program dedicated to the detection of cancer, prediction of their behavior and response to therapy, often harmful to the patients and sometimes, to their families. The program now has a complement of five surgical pathologists and an ACGME-accredited fellowship program and works in closely with molecular and cytopathology. My research includes head and neck melanomas arising in UV-light protected sites, e.g. oral and nasal mucosa, HPV-associated cancers of the head & neck, and the molecular mechanism of thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal tumors. I am also interested in public education.
  • Anthony N. Brady Professor of Pathology and Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Director, Yale Cancer Center Tissue Microarray Facility, Pathology; Director, Yale Pathology Tissue Services, Pathology; Director, Physician Scientist Training Program, Pathology Research

    Research Interests
    • Breast Neoplasms
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Medical Oncology
    • Melanoma
    • Pathology
    • Biomarkers, Pharmacological
    David Rimm is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the Yale University School of Medicine. He completed an MD-PhD at Johns Hopkins University Medical School followed by a Pathology Residency at Yale and a Cytopathology Fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia. He is board certified in Anatomic Pathology and Cytopathology. At Yale since 1994, Dr. Rimm is the Director of Yale Pathology Tissue Services. He serves as the Director of Translational Pathology and the Physician Scientist Training program in Pathology. His lab group focuses on quantitative pathology with projects related to predicting response to therapy or recurrence or metastasis in breast and lung cancer and melanoma and Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  The lab also works on issues related to biospecimen science especially assay standardization. For discovery aspects of biomarker projects, the lab uses high-plex technologies, including Imaging Mass Cytometry and Digital Spatial Profiling. The work is supported by grants from the NIH, BCRF, and sponsored research agreements from biotech and pharma.. He serves on the Immunohistochemistry committee for the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the AJCC 9th Edition Panel for Tumor Staging in Breast Cancer. He is an author of over 400 peer-reviewed papers and 8 patents with an H-index over 100. He has served on advisory boards for Amgen, Lilly, Novartis, Astra Zeneca, BMS, Danaher, Cepheid, Perkin Elmer, Dako, Ventana, PAIGE.AI and Cell Signaling Technology.
  • Associate Professor of Pathology; Director, Translational Immuno-oncology Laboratory

    Research Interests
    • Breast Neoplasms
    • Pathology
    I trained as cell biologist, surgical pathologist and served in clinical molecular diagnostics. In addition, during my postdoctoral work at Yale I focused in developing strategies to objectively and quantitatively measure key immunotherapy related biomarkers in immune cells and cancer tissues. Most of this work has been performed in close collaboration with other Yale researchers and published in peer-reviewed journals. Recently, I was appointed to lead the Translational Immuno-Oncology Laboratory (T.I.L.) in the Yale Cancer Center, that aims to produce and support high quality translational research in immuno-oncology through standardized analyses of biomarkers and cross-integration with other Yale resources.
  • 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.

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. Learn more>>

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. Learn more>>