UM Head and Neck Oncology Doctors Play Prominent Role at International Conference

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine faculty, residents and students participated in multiple sessions at the International Federation of Head and Neck Societies’ World Congress in New York. The World Congress is the largest conference on head and neck surgery and oncology, held jointly by the IFHNS, the American Head and Neck Society and New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The dynamic group representing the Department of Otolaryngology, Division of Head and Neck Surgery and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center moderated discussions, led instructional sessions and made presentations on a range of research topics.

“This is the Olympics of head and neck cancer conferences,” said Zoukaa Sargi, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of otolaryngology. “We not only contributed, we learned from each other and had an opportunity to network with a vast group of our peers.”

Among the highlights of the July 26-30 conference, medical student and M.P.H. candidate Monika Freiser was awarded a competitive $10,000 pilot grant from the American Head and Neck Society for her research proposal on addressing disparities in the management of head and neck cancer patients. Her mentors, Elizabeth Franzmann, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology, and W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and Chief Medical Officer of Sylvester, beamed with pride, as the award is traditionally given to residents.

“It was an honor to attend the meeting and participate in the award ceremony,” Freiser said. “I am very thankful to the AHNS and my mentors in the department for their support. I was really impressed that the conference emphasized the sharing of the latest head and neck cancer research among attendees from around the world.”

Held every two years, the World Congress brings together thousands of thought leaders, physicians, residents, fellows, and scientists associated with head and neck cancer. Miller School alumni also were well represented this year.

“We stood out among the larger head and neck cancer surgery departments from around the world,” said David Arnold, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology. “Head and neck surgery is a small niche specialty and the conference allows doctors in this field to stay connected and for UM to showcase our research and expertise.”

Arnold and Francisco Civantos, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and member of the Head and Neck Cancer Site Disease Group at Sylvester, participated in a poster presentation on the Miller School’s research into photo dynamic therapy treatment, which uses activated dye to kill small cancerous tumor cells without damaging tissue.

Arnold also joined Donald Weed, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and co-leader of the Head and Neck Cancer Site Disease Group at Sylvester, in moderating separate panel discussions on head and neck reconstruction techniques and research outcomes. Civantos moderated a panel on “Assessment of the Neck” and a research session regarding cancer of the hypopharynx.

As a member of the Advanced Training Council of the American Head and Neck Society, which has administrative oversight of the certified fellowship programs, Weed participated in the meeting of this body regarding the education of head and neck fellows.

Jason Leibowitz, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology, also participated in meetings of the Early Detection and Prevention and the Reconstruction committees of the American Head and Neck Society.

Donna Lundy, Ph.D., associate professor of otolaryngology and Co-Director of the Vocal Disorders Laboratory, served as a guest speaker in an instructional course on advances in speech rehabilitation after head and neck cancer treatment.

Chief resident Seo Moon, M.D., shared her study findings on the prognostic value of post-treatment PET scan in oropharyngeal cancer, and co-presented on the topic with Sargi, Chetan Nayak, M.D., assistant professor of clinical otolaryngology, and otolaryngology residents Marianne Abouyared, M.D., and Raphael Nwojo, M.D., among others.

Abouyared spoke on the role of post-treatment imaging in the management of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma along with Moon, Nayak, Sargi, and residents Jamal Ahmed, M.D., and Jason Rudman, M.D., and former resident Christopher Fundakowski, M.D.

Sargi, Franzmann, and resident Sandra Saint-Victor, M.D., presented a poster on the association of human papilloma virus positive, squamous cell carcinoma and HPV-positive cervical co-infection.

“The World Congress meeting gave us the unique opportunity to re-establish bonds with past colleagues and establish new collaborative bonds with people sharing similar academic interests,” said Giovana Thomas, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology, who also attended.

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