The NYU College of Dentistry has received an anonymous gift in the amount of $3.5 million to support the oral cancer research, treatment, and training initiatives of Dr. Brian L. Schmidt, the newly appointed Director of the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research.
These initiatives center on early detection, pain control, and improved reconstruction in the treatment of oral cancer patients. They include:
· Developing an innovative oral cancer pain and neuroscience research program.
· Identifying genetic and proteomic markers at the time of diagnosis to predict the progression of an oral cancer and, subsequently, to tailor treatment based upon that prediction.
· Investigating saliva as a cancer predictor, which might make it possible to follow a patient with a pre-cancerous lesion simply by giving a saliva sample that would be analyzed in the laboratory for certain predictive markers.
· Establishing a yearlong postdoctoral research fellowship for investigators who wish to develop expertise in the area of cancer pain by focusing on relevant questions that must be addressed in the laboratory.
· Improving oral cancer survivors’ quality-of-life by expanding a program dedicated to facial construction following surgical resection. Dr. Schmidt and his colleague Dr. John Dolan, winner of the National Collegiate Inventors Competition Graduate Division Award, will research and develop a prototype for jaw replacement, fabricated in titanium, to be delivered at the time of oral cancer resection to replace the patient’s missing jaws and teeth.
“We are thrilled by the generosity of this unrestricted gift, which will support Dr. Schmidt’s goal of enhancing the quality of life for oral cancer patients through his research initiatives, and will continue to the expand oral cancer treatment programs established at NYUCD by Dr. David Hirsch and department chair Dr. Robert Glickman,” said Dean Charles N. Bertolami.
“Inasmuch as a cure for oral cancer does not exist,” continued Dean Bertolami, “and in recognition of the fact that a major problem for oral cancer patients is pain, this gift will be used to increase understanding of the molecular mechanisms that produce oral cancer pain and to find ways to achieve significant pain reduction in a cancer pain model. An important aim will be to translate findings into the practical clinical management of oral cancer patients.”