The Comprehensive Head and Neck Database is a collaboration between the CWRU School of Dental Medicine Department of Biological Sciences and the University Hospitals ENT Institute to support otolaryngological and oral health research by acquiring, processing, storing, and distributing human biospecimens for basic and translational research purposes.

Functioning under a single IRB protocol (CASE4315), CHND collects, stores, and distributes head and neck biospecimens and clinical data from adult patients. Materials are obtained through both standard of care and research procedures. Any materials released from CHND are to be used solely for research purposes and may not be used for clinical diagnosis or implantation into humans. Confidentiality of material sources is strictly maintained by de-identification of all materials and non-disclosure of patient identities.


Head and neck cancers (HNCs) are responsible for 4% of all malignancies worldwide with approximately 550,000 new cases diagnosed each year globally and 55,000 in the United States alone. These cancers arise from mucosa lining the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx, sinonasal tract, and nasopharynx. 

While some HNCs can be linked to tobacco and alcohol use, approximately 25% of HNC cases in the United States are related to human papillomavirus (HPV), particularly type 16. HPV-associated HNCs appear to have very different biological behaviors and traditional staging does not seem to be as accurate.

Resources and Facilities

CHND is based at the CWRU School of Dental Medicine under the direction of Dr. Chad Zender and comprises an open access biorepository and clinical data registry for both internal and external investigators. Laboratory facilities house both a -80 freezer and liquid nitrogen storage tank. 

CHND utilizes Labmatrix (BioFortis), a web-based clinical and translational data management system, to securely maintain database records. The system provides integration between biospecimen inventory and clinical data management under federal regulatory compliance standards. 

Collected Materials 

Research materials, including both disease and control types, are available to researchers, as specified by submitted research protocols. Materials not immediately used by internal investigators are stored for future use by internal, external, and industry researchers. Clinical information linked to biospecimens is maintained in a secure database and all released information are de-identified.

Researchers must complete an application for use of CHND materials accompanied by local IRB approval.