Head and neck cancer complex surgery chemotherapy research trials

About the Head and Neck Service

The Head and Neck Service at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse brings together over 40 highly skilled medical and allied health professionals including surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, dental specialists, speech therapists, specialist nurses and dietitians, along with research scientists and data managers. The Service has a national and international reputation for excellence.

The Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute (SHNCI), founded in 2002 by the late Professor Christopher O’Brien AO to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment to patients with cancers and diseases of the head and neck, is also an important part of the Head and Neck Service providing funding for two head and neck clinical fellows each year.

Find out more about the SHNCI Clinical Fellowships and Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship.

Annual review
Read the 2016 Head and Neck Annual Review



Head and neck cancer is a group of more than ten types of cancer that originate in the head and neck region. We have a range of multidisciplinary clinics for the investigation and treatment of head and neck cancers, including in rural and regional New South Wales.

Chris O'Brien Lifehouse Front Entrance

Meet our team

Our team consists of members of the departments of Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology, as well as the allied services.


Skullbase team

Craniofacial specialists

Medical oncologists

Radiation oncologists

Oral medicine and dental

Nurses and allied health team

Research team


Patient Information

Find out more about head and neck. Read more >

Information booklets
Mouth Care (PDF)

dr carsten palem with patient

Treatment types

A number of treatment options and combinations are recommended for cancer. Read more >


The Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute (SHNCI) is a multi-institutional research organisation led by the head and neck service at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

With the largest database and biobank in Australia, the SHNCI brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines and leading national and international research institutions to improve outcomes for people with head and neck cancer.

The Head and Neck research team is made up of multidisciplinary specialists from the department of Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA), the RPA Institute of Academic Surgery, the University of Sydney, the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, the Garvan Institute for Medical Research, the University of Technology Sydney and a number of other leading research institutions both nationally and internationally.

The researchers at the SHNCI are world leaders in head and neck cancer research. Our research focus includes mucosal head and neck cancer, complicated local and regional skin cancer, salivary gland cancer and reconstruction following major head and neck surgery.

Some of our current specialised projects are:

Finding a cause for mouth cancer in young patients who have never smoked.
Investigating the genomic profile of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
Advanced Facial Reconstruction techniques and outcomes
Digital planning, 3D printing and implantable devices for head and neck reconstruction

The team is made up of experienced surgeons, pathologists and medical and radiation oncologists who are dedicated to gaining a better understanding of head and neck cancers and their treatment. Their research is uncovering insights into genetic changes of head and neck cancers, better understanding the effects of current and novel treatments and the impact on clinical presentations – all with the aim of improving outcomes for people with head and neck cancer.

Professor Jonathan Clark – Director of Research and Maxillofacial Reconstruction

A/Prof Carsten Palme – Head of Department

A/Prof Ruta Gupta – Oral Cancer, Salivary gland, Molecular and Tissue Based Research

A/Prof Bruce Ashford and Professor Marie Ranson – Skin Cancer Translational Research

A/Prof Michael Elliott – Clinical Research and Thyroid Cancer

Dr Jenny Lee – Clinical Trials

A/Prof Sydney Ch’ng – Facial Reconstruction

Dr James Wykes – Clinical Fellow Research

Dr Hubert Low – SHNCI Database and Facial Nerve Disorder

Dr Raymond Wu – Radiation Oncology

Sr Sarah Davies and Merran Findlay – Nursing and Allied Health

Are you interested in doing a research project with our group? Our research team has extensive experience in research projects ranging from smaller studies (aimed at poster presentations and publications) up to Masters and PhD projects.

Our research projects include both translational and clinical studies and are closely tied with our extensive head and neck database. Research projects involve medical students, junior doctors, registrars, fellows and nursing and allied health staff.

Enquire at headandneck@lh.org.au.

carsten palme in surgery

Geoffrey’s Story

Our Head and Neck team looked after Geoffrey in 2013 when he was diagnosed with tonsil cancer.

His experience with us prompted him to make a philanthropic gift to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, to establish a Head and Neck Patient Hardship Fund.

Eight years later, Geoffrey still supports the Fund, providing assistance and financial support for patients going through head and neck cancer treatment and recovery.

Contact Us

Phone: (02) 8514 0662
Fax: (02) 9383 1033
Email: headandneck@lh.org.au

Visitor Information

Find out more about public transport options, parking and our free shuttle bus.

How to get here


In NSW alone, someone is diagnosed with cancer every 13 minutes. Every dollar you contribute to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will make a difference to the 57,000 patients who visit us each year.

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