Marilene B. Wang, MD

Marilene Wang, MD

Professor in Residence, Department of Surgery, Head and Neck
Director, Nasal and Sinus Disease Center




Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Institutional Affiliation

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System





Surgery, UCLA School of Medicine, 1986 - 1987


MD, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, 1986


Otolaryngology, UCLA School of Medicine, 1987 - 1992

Board Certification

Otolaryngology, American Board of Otolaryngology, 1993

Contact Information

Clinical Interests

Head and Neck Oncology, Endoscopic Sinus and Anterior Skull Base Surgery, Thyroid, Parathyroid

Scientific Interests

The focus of Dr. Marilene Wang's research laboratory is to explore the molecular basis for the development and progression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Advanced head and neck cancer carries a poor prognosis, and a goal of this lab is to search for more effective and less toxic treatments for this devastating disease. Current research projects include:

  1. Studies of curcumin suppression of head and neck cancer. Curcumin is a naturally occurring plant phenol that is a commonly used spice, also known as turmeric. Wang's laboratory has found that curcumin treatment of HNSCC both in vitro and in vivo results in significant suppression of growth. In addition, a liposomal curcumin formulation can be given intravenously in vivo to inhibit xenograft HNSCC tumor growth, without toxicity to the animal. The molecular pathway involved is independent of pAKT and complementary to cisplatin's mechanism of action. Thus, treatment of HNSCC with curcumin combined with cisplatin and/or an EGFR inhibitor such as cetuximab holds promise for development of clinical treatment protocols.
  2. Studies of stem cells in head and neck cancer. A specific population of tumor-initiating cells, or tumor stem cells, is responsible for the uncontrolled growth of cancers, as well as their resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. Wang's laboratory has found that the population of CD44 positive cells within HNSCCs, when isolated, grows more quickly and is more resistant to cisplatin than CD44 negative cells. One goal is to target HNSCC stem cells for treatment with curcumin, which because of its alternate mechanism of action compared to cisplatin, may inhibit growth of these stem cells.

Highlighted Publications

Elashoff D, Zhou H, Reiss JK, Wang J, Henson B, Hu S, Arellano-Garcia M, Sinha UK, Le AD, Messadi D, Wang MB, Nabili V, Lingen MW, Morris D, Randolph TW, Feng Z, Akin D, Kastratovic DA, Chia D, Abemayor E, Wong DT, Reiss J, Xiao H, Arellano M, Sinha U, Le A, Wang M, Lingen M, Morris D, Randolph T. Prevalidation of salivary biomarkers for oral cancer detection. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Apr;21(4):664-72. Epub 2012 Feb 1

Rayess H, Wang MB, Srivatsan ES. Cellular senescence and tumor suppressor gene p16. Int J Cancer. 2012 Apr 15;130(8):1715-25. Epub 2011 Dec 5

Kim SG, Veena MS, Basak SK, Han E, Tajima T, Gjertson DW, Starr J, Eidelman O, Pollard HB, Srivastava M, Srivatsan ES, Wang MB. Curcumin treatment suppresses IKKBeta kinase activity of salivary cells of patients with head and neck cancer: a pilot study. Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Sep 15;17(18):5953-61. Epub 2011 Aug 5

Vira D, Bhuta S, Wang MB. Respiratory epithelial adenomatoid hamartomas. Laryngoscope. 2011 Dec;121(12):2706-9. Epub 2011 Oct 17

Duarte VM, Han E, Veena MS, Salvada A, Suh JD, Liang L, Faull K, Srivatsan ES, Wang MB. Curcumin enhances the effect of cisplatin in suppression of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma via inhibition of Ikappa kappa beta protein of the nuclear factor kB pathway. Mol Cancer Ther. 2010 Oct;9(10):2665-75.