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Carter Van Waes, MD, PhD, to Deliver Neel Lecture

0923-Van Waes_FEATURED

Carter Van Waes, MD, PhD

Carter Van Waes, MD, PhD, clinical director and chief of the Head and Neck Surgery Branch at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and senior investigator of the Radiation Oncology Sciences Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), will deliver the H. Bryan Neel III MD, PhD Distinguished Research Lecture at 9:30 am Wednesday in Room 414AB.

Dr. Van Waes graduated with a degree in chemistry with honors in 1980 from Earlham College. He received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Scientist Training Program Award and earned his MD and PhD degrees in tumor immunology with honors from the University of Chicago in 1987. During his doctoral thesis research with Hans Schreiber, MD, PhD, he showed that cancer cells express unique tumor antigens recognized by specific helper T cells, which are retained during tumor progression and metastasis. He was a surgical intern and resident in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Michigan from 1987 to 1993. There he completed an NIH-supported postdoctoral fellowship in cancer from 1988 to 1990, discovering the integrin structure and laminin binding function of the A9 squamous cell carcinoma antigen. He was chief resident for the 20 resident programs in 1992-1993.

Dr. Van Waes came to NIH as a senior staff fellow in NIDCD in 1993-1994, and was appointed as a tenure-track investigator and acting chief of the Tumor Biology Section at NIDCD in 1994. He established an NIDCD and inter-institute program with NCI and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) in Head and Neck Cancer. He and NCI collaborators established a foundation chemoradiation regimen using concurrent taxol and radiation therapy that achieved a 70 percent complete response rate and 50 percent five-year survival with preservation of voice and speech in patients with unresectable cancers. His group has been responsible for demonstrating an important role of aberrant activation of the NF-kappaB signal pathway in gene expression and pathogenesis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Recently, as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas NIH initiative, Dr. Van Waes has contributed to broad understanding of the genetic alterations that contribute to HNSCC development. These findings provide a roadmap for investigation of new agents for personalized prevention and therapy for head and neck cancer.

He served as acting clinical director from 1995 to 2003, and has been clinical director and chief of the Head and Neck Surgery Branch at NIDCD since 2003. In this role, he established the NIDCD’s intramural clinical research program, which has contributed to the identification of multiple genes involved in hereditary deafness, stuttering, and taste, and definition of neural mechanisms of language and speech using neuroimaging. He is director of NIDCD’s Otolaryngology Surgeon Scientist Career Development Program.

Dr. Van Waes has served on the editorial boards of Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Head and Neck, and Oral Oncology.

Among Dr. Van Waes’s awards are an NIH Medical Scientist Training Program award, Leon Jacobson Prize for outstanding PhD Thesis, and MD with honors from the University of Chicago. He received the Norwich Eaton Resident Research Award of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery in 1989, and is a Fellow of AAO-HNS and the American Association of Cancer Research. He has received Merit, Special Act, and Clinical Center Director’s awards for the building of the clinical research program in NIDCD and inter institute Head and Neck Cancer Program. Dr. Van Waes was inducted into the International Collegium Oto-Rhino-Larygologicum Amicitiae Sacrum in 2002. He was awarded the RM Tiwari Oration and Medal for lifetime contributions in Head and Neck Oncology from the Foundation for Head and Neck Oncology in 2006 in India. He received the Lamberson Distinguished Lectureship Award from University of Michigan in 2009. In 2013, he received an award from NIH Director Francis Collins for leadership in developing an NIH-FDA Intramural Center for Tobacco Regulatory Sciences.