A NSW Government website


Head and Neck Surgery Research

The Department of Head and Neck Surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O'Brien Lifehouse has 17 surgeons from the fields of general surgery, otolaryngology, maxillofacial surgery and plastics and reconstructive surgery. The research program includes strong collaborations with the RPA Department of Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, University of Sydney departments and various medical research institutes.

The Department maintains the largest head and neck clinicopathological database and the largest tissue biobank in Australasia with two dedicated data-managers and a research coordinator. The department has diverse research interests spanning clinicopathological predictors of disease in oral and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), genomics and transcriptomics in young patients with oral cancer, advanced and metastatic cutaneous SCC, aggressive salivary gland cancers and thyroid cancer.

The Department also has a strong interest in head and neck reconstruction, with research spanning from novel methods of maxillofacial reconstruction using 3D printing to implantable bionics, and runs the largest dedicated facial nerve clinic and associated facial reanimation research program in Australia.

Selected Grants

Amount awarded Grant and project details
$7,019,676 NHMRC - MRFF 2021 Stem Cell Therapy Mission, 2022-2027
Therapies Cartilage-Based Stem Cell Therapies Targeting Cartilage Loss to Prevent Joint Deformity and Facial Disfigurement. A Framework for Point-Of-Care Manufacturing and Delivery (ARISTOCRAT). 
Investigators: Choong P, Tanner C, Castle D, Wallace G, Gardner L, Clark J, Shields N, Sagnella S, Moulton S, Bunzli S, Clarke P, Duchi S, Spelman T, Mukherjee P, Schilling C, Gupta R, Dowsey M, O'Connell C, Dusseldorp J, Chung J, Beirne S, Gambhir S, Rushbrooke E, Di Bella C, Ronchi A.
$3,750,000 CINSW Translational Program Grant, 2021-2025
Reducing the Morbidity of Head and Neck Cancer. 
Investigator: Clark J.
$846,825 Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Foundation,  2022-2027 
Beyond Science: Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.
Investigator: Mukherjee P.
$750,000 University of Sydney DVCR and MFH contribution to CINSW TPG, 2021-2025
Reducing the Morbidity of Head and Neck Cancer.
Investigator: Clark J.
$530,518 NHMRC, 2022-2026
Real-time prediction and monitoring of head and neck cancer treatment.
Investigator: Lee J
$80,000 Cancer Institute NSW, 2022-2025
Development and implementation of an early identification and intervention system to address unwarranted variation for oral cancer in NSW.
Investigator: Venchiarutti R
$80,000 Cancer Institute NSW, 2022-2025
Development of a clinical quality dashboard to measure and address variation in lung cancer care.
Investigators: Vinod S, Kennedy G, Kadaan N, Avery S, Findlay M
$30,000 Abbott Australasia, 2023-2024
Development of a toolkit to support the implementation of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Position Statement on Cancer-Related Malnutrition and Sarcopenia.
Investigators: Kiss N, Findlay M 

Our Publications


Ahmadi N, Stone D, Stokan M, Coleman H, Heller G, Smith M, Riffat F, Kudpaje A, Veness M, Palme CE. Treatment of Early Glottic cancer with Transoral Laser Microsurgery: An Australian Experience. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Jun;75(2):661-667. doi: 10.1007/s12070-022-03392-8. Epub 2022 Dec 29.
Brodaric AM, Wong NLJ, Falon J, Wong J, Cheng K, Whereat S, Storey D. Anatomical endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography simulator using moulded meshed silicone: A novel simulator pilot study. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jul-Aug;93(7-8):1817-1824. doi: 10.1111/ans.18495. Epub 2023 May 4.
Charters E, Cheng K, Dunn M, Clark JR. Letter to the editor quantification of the force applied by the Therabite® Activeband™. Oral Oncol. 2023 Apr;139:106335. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2023.106335. Epub 2023 Feb 20.
Cheng K, Curthoys I, MacDougall H, Clark JR, Mukherjee P. Human Middle Ear Anatomy Based on Micro-Computed Tomography and Reconstruction: An Immersive Virtual Reality Development. Osteology. 2023;3(2):61-70. https://www.mdpi.com/2673-4036/3/2/7
Dhillon HM, Halkett GKB. Mask-related anxiety and distress during radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. J Med Radiat Sci. 2023 Sep;70(3):215-217. doi: 10.1002/jmrs.695. Epub 2023 Jun 16.
Douglas C, Hewitt L, Yabe TE, Mitchell J, Ashford B. Quality of Life Impacts Following Surgery for Advanced Head and Neck Cancer. World J Oncol. 2023 Apr;14(2):150-157. doi: 10.14740/wjon1541. Epub 2023 Mar 24.
Flame AC, Parker G, Halmagyi GM, Elliott M. Stylocarotid artery syndrome in a patient presenting with recurrent stroke. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jul-Aug;93(7-8):2024-2025. doi: 10.1111/ans.18468. Epub 2023 Apr 23. 
Fung YY, Chung D, Clark JR, Low TH, Palme CE, Wykes J, Elliott MS. Comparative analysis of pre-operative ultrasound and histopathology in small papillary thyroid carcinoma in the era of active surveillance. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Apr;93(4):902-906. doi: 10.1111/ans.18353. Epub 2023 Feb 28.
Genenger B, McAlary L, Perry JR, Ashford B, Ranson M. Protocol for the generation and automated confocal imaging of whole multi-cellular tumor spheroids. STAR Protoc. 2023 Jun 9;4(2):102331. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2023.102331. Epub ahead of print. 
Gupta R, Strbenac D, Satgunaseelan L, Cheung VK, Narayanappa H, Ashford B, Mitchell J, Thind A, Palme CE, Ch'ng S, Low TH, Wykes J, Willet CE, Chew T, Yang J, Ranson M, Clark JR. Comparing Genomic Landscapes of Oral and Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck: Quest for Novel Diagnostic Markers. Mod Pathol. 2023 Aug;36(8):100190. doi: 10.1016/j.modpat.2023.100190. Epub 2023 Apr 18.
Harry Huang Y, Uyulmaz S, Khoo L, Ch'ng S. Complex head and neck microsurgery/neurosurgery in Gray platelet syndrome. ANZ J Surg. 2023 May;93(5):1388-1389. doi: 10.1111/ans.18208. Epub 2022 Dec 15.
Hasmat S, Lovell NH, Low TH, Clark JR. Development of an implantable bionic for dynamic eye closure in facial nerve paralysis: Evolution of the design. Med Eng Phys. 2023 May;115:103977. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2023.103977. Epub 2023 Apr 7.
Hasmat S, Lovell NH, Low T-HH, Clark JR. Dynamic facial reanimation: feasibility of using an implantable electromagnetic actuator for active eye closure in facial nerve palsy. Research on Biomedical Engineering. 2023;39(1):189-198. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42600-023-00267-x
Hayler R, Sudirman S, Clark J, Shannon K, Elliott M, Palme C, Wykes J, Ch'ng S, Low T. Oral Cavity Reconstruction over a 30-Year Period at a Dedicated Tertiary Head and Neck Cancer Centre. Indian Journal of Surgery. 2023;85(1):33-38.
Hewitt L, Ashford B. Career reflections of retired surgeons. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jan;93(1-2):21-23. doi: 10.1111/ans.18173. Epub 2022 Nov 24. 
Hurrell MJL, Clark JR, Ch'ng S, Hubert Low TH, Nguyen KM, Elliott MS, Palme CE, Wykes J. Comparison between the radial forearm and superficial circumflex iliac artery perforator free flaps for oral soft tissue reconstruction. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2023 Feb;52(2):181-187. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2022.06.008. Epub 2022 Jul 1.
Irawati N, Every J, Dawson R, Leinkram D, Elliott M, Ch'ng S, Low H, Palme CE, Clark J, Wykes J. Effect of operative time on complications associated with free flap reconstruction of the head and neck. Clin Otolaryngol. 2023 Mar;48(2):175-181. doi: 10.1111/coa.14000. Epub 2022 Nov 16.
Jeong YJ, Thompson JF, Ch'ng S. Epidemiology, staging and management of mucosal melanoma of the head and neck: a narrative review. Chin Clin Oncol. 2023 Jun;12(3):28. doi: 10.21037/cco-23-16.
Katsifis G, Kruse H, Lewin W, Al Maruf A, Clark JR, McKenzie DR, Suchowerska N. Micro‐CT Analysis of Implanted Poly‐Ether‐Ether‐Ketone Scaffolds: Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation Increases Osteoconduction. Advanced Engineering Materials. 2023;25(8):2201297.
Lee MF, Gan JY, Zhang M, Stokan MJ, Palme CE. The phrenic nerve; the forgotten nerve in head and neck surgery. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Mar;93(3):500-505. doi: 10.1111/ans.18322. Epub 2023 Feb 15.
Li AT, Law J, Ch'ng S, Scolyer RA, Thompson JF, Lo SN, Varey AHR. External validation in an Australian population of the EORTC-DeCOG nomogram predicting recurrence, distant metastasis and overall mortality in melanoma patients with positive sentinel lymph nodes. Eur J Cancer. 2023 Aug;189:112901. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2023.04.017. Epub 2023 May 2.
Lim SY, Shklovskaya E, Lee JH, Pedersen B, Stewart A, Ming Z, Irvine M, Shivalingam B, Saw RPM, Menzies AM, Carlino MS, Scolyer RA, Long GV, Rizos H. The molecular and functional landscape of resistance to immune checkpoint blockade in melanoma. Nat Commun. 2023 Mar 18;14(1):1516. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36979-y.
Liu TPJ, David M, Clark JR, Low TH, Batstone MD. Prediction nomogram development and validation for postoperative radiotherapy in the management of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Head Neck. 2023 Jun;45(6):1503-1510. doi: 10.1002/hed.27363. Epub 2023 Apr 5.
López F, Al Ghuzlan A, Zafereo M, Vander Poorten V, Robbins KT, Hamoir M, Nixon IJ, Tufano RP, Randolph G, Pace-Asciak P, Angelos P, Coca-Pelaz A, Khafif A, Ronen O, Rodrigo JP, Sanabria Á, Palme CE, Mäkitie AA, Kowalski LP, Rinaldo A, Ferlito A. Neck Surgery for Non-Well Differentiated Thyroid Malignancies: Variations in Strategy According to Histopathology. Cancers (Basel). 2023 Feb 16;15(4):1255. doi: 10.3390/cancers15041255.
Maalouf RR, Marc M, Mukherjee P, Van Rompaey V, Eliezer M, Hautefort C, Verillaud B, Herman P, Kania R. Otosclerosis: audiometric results and quality of life after stapedectomy with interposition or CO2 laser-calibrated stapedotomy without interposition. Acta Otolaryngol. 2023 Mar;143(3):231-236. doi: 10.1080/00016489.2023.2186482. Epub 2023 Mar 20. 
Manzie T, MacDougall H, Cheng K, Venchiarutti R, Fox R, Sharman A, Charters E, Seyfi D, Dunn M, Mukherjee P, Clark J. Virtual reality digital surgical planning for jaw reconstruction: a usability study. ANZ J Surg. 2023 May;93(5):1341-1347. doi: 10.1111/ans.18307. Epub 2023 Feb 15.
Miller JR 3rd, Lo SN, Nosrati M, Stretch JR, Spillane AJ, Saw RPM, Shannon KF, Nieweg OE, Ch'ng S, Kim KB, Leong SP, Thompson JF, Scolyer RA, Kashani-Sabet M. Improving Selection for Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Among Patients With Melanoma. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Apr 3;6(4):e236356. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.6356.
Milosavljevic M, Hewitt L, Fish J, Davis KJ, McManus L, Ashford B. How to reduce processing times for site-specific assessments from 29 to 5 days using a common-sense approach: it does not have to be that hard. Intern Med J. 2023 Mar;53(3):416-421. doi: 10.1111/imj.16041.
Ming Z, Lim SY, Stewart A, Pedersen B, Shklovskaya E, Menzies AM, Carlino MS, Kefford RF, Lee JH, Scolyer RA, Long GV, Rizos H. IFN-γ Signaling Sensitizes Melanoma Cells to BH3 Mimetics. J Invest Dermatol. 2023 Jul;143(7):1246-1256.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2023.01.017. Epub 2023 Feb 1.
Morrow A, Steinberg J, Chan P, Tiernan G, Kennedy E, Egoroff N, Hilton D, Sankey L, Venchiarutti R, Hayward A, Pearn A, McKay S, Debono D, Hogden E, Taylor N. In person and virtual process mapping experiences to capture and explore variability in clinical practice: application to genetic referral pathways across seven Australian hospital networks. Transl Behav Med. 2023 Aug 11;13(8):561-570. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibad009.
Noori O, Pereira JL, Stamou D, Ch'ng S, Varey AH. Vasopressors improve outcomes in autologous free tissue transfer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2023 Jun;81:151-163. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2022.08.069. Epub 2022 Aug 27. 
Papanikolas MJ, Hurrell MJL, Clark JR, Low TH, Ch'ng S, Elliott MS, Palme CE, Wykes J. Anterolateral thigh, radial forearm and superficial circumflex iliac perforator flaps in oral reconstruction: a comparative analysis. ANZ J Surg. 2023 May;93(5):1335-1340. doi: 10.1111/ans.18239. Epub 2023 Jan 11.
Petrides GA, Hayler R, Lee JW, Jankelowitz S, Low TH. Electromyography in the prognostication of recovery in patients with acute peripheral facial nerve palsy: A systematic review. Clin Otolaryngol. 2023 Jul;48(4):563-575. doi: 10.1111/coa.14072. Epub 2023 Apr 28.
Posniak S, Chung JH, Liu X, Mukherjee P, Wallace GG. The importance of elastin and its role in auricular cartilage tissue engineering. Bioprinting. 2023;e00276.
Riordan E, Yung A, Cheng K, Lim L, Clark J, Rtshiladze M, Ch'ng S. Modeling Methods in Craniofacial Virtual Surgical Planning. J Craniofac Surg. 2023 Jun 1;34(4):1191-1198. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000009187. Epub 2023 Feb 20.
Rowse BM, Yu ACX, Faulkner H, Sandler G, Howle JR, Ch'ng S, Rao PJ, Varey AHR. Does preoperative imaging for scalp non-melanocytic skin cancer accurately predict invasion of the cranial vault? A systematic review and meta-analysis. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jul-Aug;93(7-8):1970-1977. doi: 10.1111/ans.18566. Epub 2023 Jun 11.
Schoenfeldt T, Thompson JF, Lo S, Drzewiecki KT, Stretch J, Saw RPM, Spillane A, Shannon K, Uren RF, Chakera AH, Nieweg OE. Prognostic Significance and Management of Sentinel Nodes in the Triangular Intermuscular Space of Patients with Melanoma. Ann Surg Oncol. 2023 Apr;30(4):2354-2361. doi: 10.1245/s10434-022-12840-2. Epub 2022 Dec 3.
Sharman AR, Ferguson EM, Dhillon HM, Macleod P, McCrossin J, Sundaresan P, Clark JR, Smith MA, Dodd RH. An education resource for human papillomavirus oropharyngeal cancer patients: think-aloud interviews. Support Care Cancer. 2023 Feb 11;31(3):158. doi: 10.1007/s00520-023-07592-y.
Shein G, Lee JWY, Coulson S, Low TH. Outcomes of immediate facial nerve reanimation with nerve transfer for facial nerve neoplasm-induced paralysis: a retrospective review. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jun;93(6):1674-1681. doi: 10.1111/ans.18336. Epub 2023 Mar 28.
Tadi S, Cheung VK, Lee CS, Nguyen K, Luk PP, Low TH, Palme C, Clark J, Gupta R. MYB RNA detection by in situ hybridisation has high sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma. Pathology. 2023 Jun;55(4):456-465. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2023.01.007. Epub 2023 Mar 21.
Tjahjono R, Ahmadi N, Riffat F, Kudpaje A, Palme CE. Pathologically Negative Excision for Biopsy-Proven Early Glottic Carcinoma. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Jun;75(2):278-281. doi: 10.1007/s12070-022-03232-9. Epub 2022 Oct 31.
Tjahjono R, Low HT, Lee J, Sebaratnam DF, Gupta R, Veness MJ, Clark J, Palme CE. DANGER: what clinicians need to know about aggressive head and neck cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Med J Aust. 2023 Jan 16;218(1):11-15. doi: 10.5694/mja2.51786. Epub 2022 Dec 4.
Tjahjono R, Phung D, Elliott MS, Riffat F, Palme CE. The Utility of Near-Infrared Autofluorescence for Parathyroid Gland Identification During Thyroid Surgery: A Single-Center Experience. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Mar;75(1):121-125. doi: 10.1007/s12070-022-03309-5. Epub 2022 Dec 3.
Tumuluri V, Leinkram D, Froggatt C, Dunn M, Wykes J, Singh J, Low TH, Palme CE, Howes D, Clark JR. Outcomes of immediate dental implants in vascularised bone flaps for mandibular reconstruction. ANZ J Surg. 2023 Jun;93(6):1682-1687. doi: 10.1111/ans.18427. Epub 2023 Apr 7.
Varey AHR, Thompson JF, Howle JR, Lo SN, Ch'ng S, Carlino MS. Has the advent of modern adjuvant systemic therapy for melanoma rendered sentinel node biopsy unnecessary? Eur J Cancer. 2023 Jun;186:166-171. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2023.03.011. Epub 2023 Mar 17.
Venchiarutti RL, Charters EK, Dunn M, Clark JR. Construct and discriminant validity testing of the FACE-Q Head and Neck Cancer Module for assessing speech and swallowing outcomes for patients undergoing maxillectomy or mandibulectomy. Head Neck. 2023 Jun;45(6):1519-1529. doi: 10.1002/hed.27366. Epub 2023 Apr 13.
Venchiarutti RL, Kapoor R, Clark JR, Palme CE, Young JM. Interventions to reduce times to diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. Head Neck. 2023 Jun;45(6):1333-1358. doi: 10.1002/hed.27343. Epub 2023 Mar 27.
Venchiarutti RL, Templeton S, Mathers L, Charters E, Clark JR. Treatment approaches and outcomes of a head and neck lymphedema service at an Australian comprehensive cancer center. Head Neck. 2023 Jun;45(6):1539-1548. doi: 10.1002/hed.27369. Epub 2023 Apr 17.
Vergara IA, Aivazian K, Carlino MS, Guminski AD, Maher NG, Shannon KF, Ch'ng S, Saw RPM, Long GV, Wilmott JS, Scolyer RA. Genomic Profiling of Metastatic Basal cell Carcinoma Reveals Candidate Drivers of Disease and Therapeutic Targets. Mod Pathol. 2023 Apr;36(4):100099. doi: 10.1016/j.modpat.2023.100099. Epub 2023 Jan 10.
Xin H, Romanazzo S, Tomaskovic-Crook E, Mitchell TC, Hung JC, Wise SG, Cheng K, Al Maruf DSA, Stokan MJ, Manzie TGH, Parthasarathi K, Cheung VKY, Gupta R, Ly M, Pulitano C, Wise IK, Crook JM, Clark JR. Ex Vivo Preservation of Ovine Periosteum Using a Perfusion Bioreactor System. Cells. 2023 Jun 27;12(13):1724. doi: 10.3390/cells12131724.
Yeo D, Kao S, Gupta R, Wahlroos S, Bastian A, Strauss H, Klemm V, Shrestha P, Ramirez AB, Costandy L, Huston R, Gardner BS, Grimison P, Clark JR, Rasko JEJ. Accurate isolation and detection of circulating tumor cells using enrichment-free multiparametric high resolution imaging. Front Oncol. 2023 Mar 27;13:1141228. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2023.1141228.
Zilberg C, Lyons JG, Gupta R, Ferguson A, Damian DL. The Tumor Immune Microenvironment in Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Arising in Organ Transplant Recipients. Ann Dermatol. 2023 Apr;35(2):91-99. doi: 10.5021/ad.22.175.