My research has extensively involved understanding the role of the tumor microenvironment in facilitating head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) progression and to develop effective therapeutic interventions. The tumor microenvironment consists of cellular and acellular or matrix components. Several non-malignant cells constitute the cellular stromal environment surrounding the tumor including fibroblasts, immune cells, cells that form blood vessels (endothelial cells and pericytes) and neuronal cells. Fibroblasts are the most abundant stromal type in HNSCC. My laboratory has isolated and characterized several primary cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) lines from HNSCC tissue. My group has demonstrated that the molecular cross talk between HNSCC and CAFs that increase tumor growth, local invasion and metastasis. Further, we delineated aspects of the molecular mechanisms involved in tumor-CAF metabolic symbiosis, and HNSCC-mediated CAF secretory autophagy.