School of Dentistry Collaboration

Since 2002, Drs. Elliot AbemayorMarilene Wang and David Wong have had long-standing and productive research collaborations. In fact the first paper on salivary biomarkers for oral cancer detection was carried out between the Division of Head & Neck Surgery/Otolaryngology and the School of Dentistry. The decade long collaborative relationship has resulted in multiple extramural grants including from NIH and TRDRP. Currently this research collaboration is focusing on molecular characterization of salivary gland tumors, saliva biomarkers development for detection of HPV-associated oropharyngeal tumors as well as clinical validation of salivary oral cancer biomarkers. Two of their recently supported research grants are listed below. In addition, their collaboration is supported by funding from the Barnes Family Fund.

R56 Grant: Molecular Characterization of Parotid Gland Tumors

Dr. David Wong and Dr. Elliot Abemayor, Professor-in-Residence and Vice Chief of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the UCLA Health System, received a grant to enhance translational and basic research of salivary gland tumors. For translational enhancements, they will work towards developing biomarkers to test the hypothesis that discriminatory biomarkers can be harnessed to assist pathologists in salivary gland malignancy diagnosis. The goal is to use such markers to address the clinical challenge that 11 percent of salivary gland biopsies remain ambiguous and may require invasive surgery to exclude malignancy

21RT-0112: "Clinical Validation of Salivary Oral Cancer Biomarkers"

Dr. David Wong and Dr. Marilene Wang, Professor-in-Residence at the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the UCLA Health System, received a grant to test whether suspicious oral lesions are cancerous or not through pre-validated salivary oral cancer biomarker tests. This three-year application is expected to advance the biomarkers to a clinical panel that can be definitively evaluated in a multi-center clinical validation study permitting the subsequent next steps of regulatory approval and product development.