Cell Biology & Immunology Laboratory
Thomas Carey, Ph.D., Laboratory Director
Dr. Thomas Carey is a Distinguished Research Scientist and Professor of Cancer Biology in the Department of Otolaryngology. He is the Associate Chair for Research and Director of Research for the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery. Together with Dr. Bradford, Dr. Carey is the Co-Director of the Head and Neck Oncology Program of University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Carey directs the Laboratory of Head and Neck Cancer Biology located in the Cancer Center as well as the Laboratory of Cell Biology and Immunology located in the Kresge Hearing Research Institute. The main themes of research in Dr. Carey's two labs are: genetic mechanisms in head and neck cancer progression; genetic mechanisms affecting response to therapy; and mechanisms of autoimmune hearing loss mediated by antibodies to inner ear antigens.
Head and Neck Cancer Biology Laboratory
In the Head and Neck Cancer Biology Lab our areas of interest are the genetics and biology of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). This research involves a search for genetic changes associated with tumor progression that can be used to predict aggressive biological behavior and identify possible novel therapeutic strategies. This search is currently focused on a gene or genes on chromosome 18q that are altered in association with loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on this chromosome arm. Together with Dr. Carol Bradford and Dr. Gregory Wolf we are also studying genetic markers that predict response to therapy. These include alterations affecting cell cycle regulatory genes, human papillomavirus integration and expression, and genes involved in cell survival and programmed cell death (apoptosis).
Cell Biology and Immunology Laboratory
In the Cell Biology and Immunology Laboratory of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute we have focused on autoimmune hearing loss. An animal model of antibody induced hearing loss developed from studies designed to identify unique proteins in the inner ear. A test of monoclonal antibodies we developed to inner ear structures revealed that one antibody, KHRI-3 that binds to inner ear supporting cells, caused hearing loss in both mice and guinea pigs. Subsequent studies demonstrated that patients with rapidly progressive hearing loss have antibody with a similar binding pattern on supporting cells. Our research objectives are to identify the protein target of the antibody, determine the mechanism of antibody induced damage, develop an accurate, and rapid diagnostic test for autoimmune hearing loss, and to develop appropriate treatment and prevention technologies for this disease.