The First Symposium on Head and Neck Cancer Stem Cells is planned for May 10-11, 2012, at the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Stem cells play an important role in the pathobiology of cancer. However, the impact of stem cells in the initiation and progression of cancer is tumor-type specific. While in certain tumors most cells are highly tumorigenic (e.g. melanoma), in others there is a small sub-population of stem cells that are the primary responsible for the initiation and progression of the tumor (e.g. breast cancer). This Symposium will be the first one to focus on the role of stem cells in head and neck carcinogenesis. The understanding of the biology of stem cells in head and neck cancer is pivotal for the development of new strategies to identify these cells and to selectively eliminate their contribution to tumor growth and progression. The overall goal of this Symposium is to present and discuss the most recent advances in the area of cancer stem cell biology, stimulate state-of-the-art collaborative new research projects in this field, and use the new knowledge in the design of more efficacious and safer therapies for head and neck cancer patients.
The specific aims of this Symposium are A) To present and discuss the state-of-the-science in cancer stem cell biology;B) To present and discuss the role of stem cells in the pathobiology of head and neck cancer;C) To identify challenges that impedes progress in head and neck cancer stem cell research and propose strategies to overcome these roadblocks;D) To foster lively scientific exchanges among leading scientists and young researchers engaged in cancer stem cell research;and E) To disseminate the symposium presentations by publishing its proceedings. We have worked extensively to attract outstanding scientists across a spectrum of disciplines for this Symposium. We expect that the audience will likely include dental and medical scientists, pathologists, oncologists, otolaryngologists, oral maxillofacial surgeons, biologists, and mathematicians with a common interest in stem cells and head and neck cancer. We anticipate 80-120 participants. The Symposium is organized in 4 main sessions over a period of 2 days, with 1 keynote talk, followed by 3 research talks, and ample time for discussion in each session. To cultivate the next generation of scientists, young investigators will be encouraged to attend by granting 12 travel awards distributed in a competitive basis, as well as by selecting up to 8 Abstracts from young investigators for short oral presentations. The organizing committee will provide careful consideration in selecting speakers and participants to foster a balanced audience and to ensure ample opportunities for participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. The expected outcomes of this Symposium include the dissemination of the knowledge in this emerging area of head and neck oncology, the establishment of new research collaborations, and the acceleration of the translation of laboratory findings into improved therapies for patients suffering from head and neck cancer.
The relevance to public health of the proposed First Symposium on Head and Neck Cancer Stem Cells lies in its potential to accelerate the process of discovery of safer and more efficacious therapies for patients with advanced head and neck cancer. This is critical since the current benefits of therapy are modest for these patients, and their 5-year survival remains very low. The overall goal of this Symposium is to disseminate the most recent advances in the area of cancer stem cell biology and stimulate collaborative new research projects in this field, with the ultimate goal of developing new therapies that aim at improving the survival and quality of life of patients suffering from head and neck cancer.