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Molecular Characterization of Salivary Gland Tumors

Integrative Biology and Infectious Diseases Branch
Division of Extramural Research


The overall goal of this initiative is to enhance and expand basic and translational research on salivary gland tumors. The main objectives are to support: a) systematic, comprehensive, and high-throughput “omics” approaches to better understand the molecular signatures of tumor formation and progression; and b) development of relevant animal models to study disease pathogenesis and preclinical testing of potential biomarkers.  It is expected that this initiative will facilitate basic scientific discoveries, thus paving the way to translational medicine for this orphan and understudied group of tumors.


Salivary gland carcinomas are comprised of several histopathologic subtypes and widely varied clinical outcomes. They constitute 1-6% of head and neck malignancies and approximately 3600 new cases are diagnosed each year. Currently, there are limited therapeutic options for this group of rare, albeit deadly cancers. Typically, the management of early primary resectable cancers involves complete surgical excision with or without post-operative radiation therapy for tumors with microscopically positive margins and/or perineural involvement. Patients with locally advanced nonresectable, recurrent and metastatic cancers have very limited therapeutic options. Roadblocks that prevent the realization of clinical diagnostics and therapeutics in this field are the lack of characterization of these tumors at the molecular level.

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014