Pilot Program Leaders

Career Enhancement Program

Nadine Connor, PhDNadine Connor, PhD

Director of the Career Enhancement Program
Professor, Department of Surgery
Division of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery


Dr. Connor’s research program is focused on critical functions of the head and neck—speech, voice and swallowing. Her interests center on physiological and structural properties of cranial muscles and the manner in which diseases (such as head and neck cancer) and treatment (such as surgery and radiotherapy) affect muscle function, and consequently, quality of life. She has a track record of funded research in areas very relevant to the Wisconsin Head and Neck Cancer SPORE as well as a substantial history of training and mentoring at all levels.


Developmental Research Program

Susan Thibeault, PhDSusan Thibeault, MD

Director of the Developmental Research Program
Mentor, Career Enhancement Program
Professor, Department of Surgery



Dr. Thibeault is a professor of Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Communicative Disorders and the Diane M. Bless Endowed Chair of Otolaryngology. She serves as director of the Developmental Research Program and as a mentor for the Career Enhancement Program (CEP) of the Wisconsin HN SPORE. The overarching theme of her programmatic research is to further understanding of the biological mechanisms of vocal fold injury and repair in normal and cancer lesions. Specifically, her research has focused on translational and clinical investigations of laryngeal disorders to characterize critical aspects of dysregulated extracellular matrix deposition. She presently has two main areas of focus in her research laboratory. The first area is tissue regeneration of the vocal fold lamina propria. This work involves characterizing cells that may be used for cellular therapy. These include fibroblasts, adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. She works with a hyaluronan hydrogel and studies the effects of three dimensional cell culture and vibration with this hydrogel.

The second area of focus in Dr. Thibeault’s laboratory is laryngeal immunology. She is the director of the Voice and Swallow Clinics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This is a large clinic that includes many patients who have head and neck cancer. She has been a speech language pathologist for more than 20 years and has seen head and neck cancer patients throughout her career for voice restoration and dysphagia. She is specifically interested in determining the relationships among laryngeal cancer, reflux, smoking and the immune system. She is a member of the NIH Biomaterials and Biointerfaces (BMBI) study section and serves on the editorial boards of several journals.

Dr. Thibeault is dedicated to educating the next generation of scientists. Toward that end, she mentors junior faculty; speech language pathologists; post/pre doctorates; and master, undergraduate and high school students. She serves as co-director of the NIDCD-sponsored UW Madison T32 Training Grant in Voice Science. She is also the chair of the Department of Surgery Research Grant Review Committee. This committee is responsible for reviewing, scoring and assigning all grants internally funded by the Department of Surgery. She will use her clinical, administrative and research experience in head and neck cancer to serve the Wisconsin HN SPORE.