D'Silva Lab

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry



Head and neck cancer is an aggressive, treatment-resistant cancer with a high recurrence rate. Invasion is required for development and spread of head and neck cancer but there are no strategies that effectively target invasion. This knowledge gap is due to limited progress in identifying and understanding the underlying mechanisms that control invasion. Our laboratory combines cutting edge in vitro models, pre-clinical models, and clinical studies to understand invasion. We investigate the tumor-microenvironment interactions that promote growth, spread and treatment resistance in cancer.

Invasion in oral cancer leads to poor clinical outcomes; the goal of our research program is to understand how it does so.


  1. Mechanisms that encourage invasion and spread of head and neck cancer
  2. How is head and neck cancer protected from radiation
  3. How does head and neck cancer recur


nisha dsilva

Nisha J. D’Silva, BDS, MSD, PhD
Donald Kerr Endowed Collegiate Professor
Professor, Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry
Professor of Pathology, Medical School

njdsilva@umich.edu | 734-764=1543

Dr. D’Silva is an oral pathologist, cancer biologist, and educator. Dr. D’Silva is the Donald Kerr Endowed Collegiate Professor of Oral Pathology and Professor of Dentistry at the University of Michigan. She is also Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and a member of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is Associate Chair in the department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine. Her research in head and neck cancer focuses on biomarkers and molecular mechanisms of tumor progression and treatment resistance. Her research is enhanced by the exceptional environment at the University of Michigan through inter-disciplinary collaborations with great colleagues.

Dr. D’Silva’s research is funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/ National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her work has been recognized by several awards including the Distinguished Scientist Award for Oral Medicine and Pathology Research from the International Association of Dental Research, the Rod Cawson Prize from the International Association of Oral Pathologists and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and the University of Michigan Crosby Award for women in science and engineering.

Dr. D’Silva received her dental degree at the University of Bombay, India, followed by a Residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and a Master’s degree at Indiana University, Indianapolis. She received her PhD at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dr. D’Silva is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, which is her area of clinical practice. Diagnostic pathology immensely informs her research in cancer biology. Dr. D’Silva enjoys teaching and mentoring students. She has mentored PhD students, clinicians pursuing a PhD, post-doctoral fellows, and undergraduate students. She was honored when current and former students and colleagues nominated her for the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research Distinguished Mentor award which she received in 2013. As Associate Chair she serves the department through a variety of administrative responsibilities.



Dr. D`Silva receives SOAR grant from NIDCR

Ligia Schmitd receives Riecker Fund from CEW+ to develop research

Marsha-Kay Hutchinson receives Travel Grant from IADR – 2019


min liu

Min Liu, MD
Principal Research Laboratory Specialist Intermediate


Marcell Costa de Medeiros

Marcell Costa de Medeiros
Research Fellow


Marsha-Kay Hutchinson

Marsha-Kay Hutchinson, BS
DDS/PhD Student


Erika Danella

Erika B. Danella, BS
DDS/PhD Student


Cindy Perez Pacheco

Cindy Perez Pacheco
Research Fellow


Yvonne Xinyi Lim

Yvonne Xinyi Lim, PhD
Research Fellow


Aya Fattah

Aya Fattah
BS Biomolecular Science
DDS Candidate, Class of 2025


Ritwika Bera

Ritwika Bera, BDS, MS
PhD student


Yamini Balwani

Yamini Balwani, DDS
Orthodontics Resident


Laura Gonzalez

Laura Gonzalez Maldonado, PhD
Research Fellow



D'Silva Lab
1011 N. University, Room 5216
Ann Arbor 48109-1078, MI

Phone: 734-647-3907