Students Present at AHNS Conference

Zainab Balogun standing in front of her poster presentation

Three students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine presented at the American Head and Neck Society’s 11th International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer last month in Montreal.

“Getting onto the program is a highly competitive worldwide competition,” said Dr. Jonas Johnson, Chairman Emeritus of the Department. The conference had an audience that spanned six continents.

Zainab Balogun was one of the student presenters. Her podium presentation was based on neurocognitive differences between HNC patients and healthy controls. Overall, they found there were not any significant differences between the two cohorts at baseline prior to starting radiation therapy. “This is a project with future iterations as there’s the potential to look at the biological differences and social determinant of health differences between the two groups that can ultimately impact their HNC outcomes,” she said.

Another student presentation from the Survivorship Clinic is looking at how social determinants of health, medical mistrust, and area deprivation predict outcomes in patients. “Given this is an ongoing study, our preliminary findings demonstrated that patients who found it hard to provide for their basic needs had a higher level of mistrust,” Balogun said. “However, that did not impact their HNC outcomes following treatment completion.”

Randall Harley, one of the student presenters, graduated in May. He is now an otolaryngology resident at Penn. Isabella Lao was a third student presenter.

“It was an immense privilege to be chosen to present our findings to the Head and Neck Surgery Community,” Balogun said.