Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) causes severe pain, increased stress, and reduced quality of life, which exceeds the levels seen in other cancers. Development of improved non-opioid therapies will likely be hastened with an increased understanding of underlying mechanisms driving cancer pain.

Beyond sensory and pain signaling, the peripheral nervous system has been identified as a component of the cancer microenvironment and may be involved in modulating tumor progression and tumor-associated immunity.

The cancer microenvironment is comprised of stromal cells, glial cells, immune cells, neurons (e.g., motor, sensory, sympathetic) and proliferating tumor cells. We seek to integrate the neurobiology, cancer biology, and immunology fields in order to fully appreciate neural-immune-cancer communication and develop a more holistic approach to novel cancer pain treatment. The lab executes translational research through collection of patient-reported outcomes and clinical specimens as well as implementation of molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral studies in preclinical mouse models.

Lab Affiliations