Oral Cancer Research & Coordinating Centre (OCRCC)

Research centre vision:
To be an internationally renowned research centre in oral cancer through data and tissue sharing for research such that there is successful translation of basic research into clinical practice leading to excellence in innovation, publication and teaching

Research centre mission:
To advance knowledge and learning in oral cancer through quality research and education for the nation and for humanity

Research centre objectives:
To reduce impact of oral cancer on the Malaysian population via:

  • the maintenance and enhancement of the system of collection and storage of data and specimens through the Malaysian Oral Cancer Database & Tissue Bank System (MOCDTBS) to facilitate future research efforts
  • coordination of research activities on oral cancer in Malaysia to avoid research overlaps
  • creation of a conducive environment through the sharing of available, limited resources from the database and optimizing the use of specimens from the tissue bank to achieve excellence, creativity and innovation in research
  • conducting training in clinical expertise
  • establishing networking with institutions locally and internationally to further accelerate research in oral cancer
  • disseminating information and creating awareness to the Malaysian public on the disease
  • being a resource centre for research, consultancy and laboratory techniques in this field
  • being a resource centre for postgraduate training through the availability of clinical expertise and resources (data/specimens)

Summary and principal aims

Oral cancer is one form of malignancy that is very easily detected through an oral examination. While it is not among the top 10 cancers, it is prevalent especially among ethnic Indians where the incidence ranked within the top ten cancers in Malaysia. Most oral cancer patients present at very late stages making ideal management impossible and thus leading to 5 years survival of less than 50% with those surviving having a poor quality of life. With the current limited knowledge on oral cancer and its risk factors, intervention programs are only limited to those with supposedly high risks. However, there are other factors, which has been associated with oral cancer such as the physical environment, genetic make-up and lifestyle that need to be further studied so that the information derived can equip health professionals to effectively and efficiently manage equitable intervention program aimed at reducing the incidence of oral cancer.

Therefore, OCRCC was established with the aim to carry out research in oral cancer and to coordinate oral cancer research in Malaysia. The oral cancer research includes various aspects such as risk factors, gene expression, treatment outcome, survival as well as impact of the disease to the patient’s quality of life in our effort to understand the underlying mechanisms of this disease. Subsequently, the development and maintenance of an oral cancer database and tissue bank allows for follow-up of these patients to evaluate the treatment effect outcome so that suitability of the treatment strategies employed can be assessed and more meaningful molecular epidemiology research to be carried out such that there is successful translation of basic research into clinical practice.

OCRCC is made up of experts from various disciplines, including oral maxillofacial surgeons, ENTs, pathologists, epidemiologists and scientists. Therefore, we were able to undertake a wide range of not just research activities, but also organization of seminars and increasing oral cancer awareness activities.

Key achievements
OCRCC has successfully developed a biobanking system called the Malaysian Oral Cancer Database and Tissue Bank System (MOCDTBS) where this system is designed to collect, process and stores data and biological specimens to serve current and future research in oral cancer. Data and specimens collected from this system, together with successful collaboration with other academic, government and non-governmental institutions has opened the path for various research in the area of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, cytogenetics, epidemiology, nutrition and quality of life. Furthermore, this successful collaboration effort has translated into the establishment and characterization of oral cancer cell lines which is an important achievement to further expand on oral cancer research activities.
To date, 24 research papers has been published since year 2005 and one patent was filed by one of our research collaborators. Additionally, postgrad students utilising data and/or specimens and expertise from this centre have also won several national and international awards for their research including:

  • UICC International Cancer Technology Transfer Fellowship by International Union Against Cancer (UICC), Oral & Pharyngeal Cancer Branch (NIH), Bethesda, US for research project entitled ‘Establishment of mouse models to understand oral cancer development’
  • 1st prize for abstract entitled ’Genetic polymorphism and risk of oral cancer’ presented at 1st Malaysian Oncology Society-Egyptian Oncology Society 2010
  • Gold medal at the University of Malaya Research and Innovation Expo 2010 for abstract entitled ‘Image Cytometry in determining the ploidy status of the tissue’
  • Travel Award to Japan 2009 for a paper titled Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) Discovery in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC)
  • Best paper award at the International Academy of Dental Research (IADR) 2008 for abstract entitled ‘Expression of Ki-67 and MMP-1 in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC), Oral Lichen Planus (OLP) and Fibroepithelial Hyperplasia (FEH)’.

Research Centre Director:

Prof. Dr. Rosnah Binti Mohd Zain

Contact details

For further information, please contact us at:
Oral Cancer Research &
Coordinating Centre (OCRCC)
Faculty of Dentistry, University of Malaya
Tel: 03-79674896
Fax: 03-79547301
Handphone: 016-2765720
Website: http://mouthcancermalaysia.um.edu.my/