Case Head and Neck Cancer Research Collaborative

The Case Head and Neck Cancer Research Collaborative (CHNCRC) is organized around the scientific focus of improving the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancers. This translational research initiative seeks to bring novel therapeutics to the treatment of head and neck cancers based on pre-clinical investigation.

Research projects from the collaborative ranging from basic science to clinical trials have resulted in seminal discoveries regarding the immunology and progression of head and neck cancers. Ground-breaking research into the discovery of a novel biomarker for early stage head and neck cancers is led by Dr. Aaron Weinberg of the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and involves local and international collaborations. The Comprehensive Head and Neck Database (CHND), led by Dr. Jason Thuener, collects clinical data and quality biospecimens from cancer, oral disease, and healthy patients for research use.


Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers arise from mucosa linking the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx, sinonasal tract, and nasopharynx. It is most common in the form of squamous cell carcinoma and is responsible for approximately 4% of all malignancies worldwide with at least 600,000 new cases diagnosed each year.



The goal of this multidisciplinary, disease-based program is to integrate the pre-clinical basic science research and clinical translational research to promote inter-professional activities across multiple fields that play a role in the diagnostics and treatment related to head and neck cancer to ultimately improve the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancers.

To achieve the goal of improved patient outcomes via rapid translation of tumor biology to the clinic, the program encompasses laboratory efforts in cancer biology, research and clinical pathology, and clinical research services. Specific focus has been placed on identifying methods for therapeutic and diagnostic tumor marker development.

This broad effort is centered on the main medical disciplines in head and neck cancer:

  • otolaryngology - head and neck surgery
  • medical oncology
  • radiation oncology
  • tumor immunology
  • dental medicine

In addition to the research conducted on-site at CWRU and University Hospitals, the program engages in international research in Uganda in efforts to create sustainable infrastructure in endemic populations. Additional international research has focused on populations in Taiwan and India. .