Head and Neck Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

Our team is dedicated to research, including both laboratory science (which may someday lead to new treatments) and clinical studies to test the effectiveness of new therapies.

Clinical Trials

Your physician may discuss with you the possibility of joining a clinical trial, which could offer new treatment approaches that are not otherwise available.

We offer numerous clinical trials dedicated to finding better treatments for head and neck cancers.

To find currently recruiting clinical trials at Moores Cancer Center, see Clinical Trials Search.

For more information on our trials or to find out eligibility criteria, please contact Gerald Henderson by email or 858-822-5223.

Research Topics

Our physician-scientists and researchers are involved in many exciting studies, and the Head and Neck Cancer Center awards annual grants to projects that will ultimately improve curative treatment as well as the quality of care for patients and their families. Projects that received grants in 2017 include:

Novel Approaches to Inhibit Immune Suppression in Head and Neck Cancer

New immune therapies hold great promise for the treatment of cancer. However, in some tumors, proliferating macrophages drive resistance to these new therapeutics. This program, led by Judith A. Varner, PhD, and Megan M. Kaneda, PhD, will investigate a new approach to overcome macrophage-mediated resistance to immune therapy in head and neck cancer by targeting novel mechanisms that drive macrophage proliferation.

Dosimetric and Functional Implications of Submandibular Gland Transfer in Oropharyngeal Cancer Patients Treated with Definitive IMRT

Submandibular gland transfer is a surgical technique which moves a single salivary gland forward underneath the jaw and is performed prior to treatment for patients who will be receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. This method of sparing a salivary gland from the effects of high dose radiation has been shown to be quite effective with conventional forms of radiotherapy, but the implications of using this technique with more modern forms of radiation therapy have not been evaluated. This trial, led by Charles Coffey, MD, with co-leaders Parag Sanghvi, MD, Vitali Moiseenko, PhD, and Liza Blumenfeld, MA-CCC-SLP, BCS-S, will examine the dosimetric effects of submandibular gland transfer in patients receiving intensity modulated radiation therapy, as well as the functional effects on such outcomes as salivary flow, dry mouth, swallowing, and quality of life for these patients.

Creating a Novel Simulation-based Education Tool to Improve Radiation Therapy Outcomes in Head and Neck Cancer

This project, led by James Murphy, MD, aims to create a novel web-based educational application that strives to improve the quality and safety of radiation delivery in head and neck cancer.

Generating a Vaccine for Head and Neck Cancers by Reprogramming Cancer Cells into Dendritic Cells

The purpose of this study, led by Jack D. Bui, MD, PhD, is to generate a vaccine that closely mimics the cancer cell so that a highly specific immune response can be induced. This high level of specificity will increase the efficacy of the immune response while also limiting any off-target toxicity.


Physicians who also conduct research:

Appointments & Referrals


La Jolla

Meet Our Specialists

Related Programs

Personalized Care

double helix
We use genetic testing to analyze tumors and tailor treatment to individual patients. See Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy.