AADR Strides in Science June 2010 - Feb. 2011
Mary L. Marazita, Ph.D., has been a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh since 1993 and is currently the Associate Dean for Research, Vice Chair of Oral Biology and a Professor (Oral Biology, Human Genetics, Psychiatry and the Clinical & Translational Science Institute). She has been a member of AADR since 1991.
Marazita earned her B.S. in Animal Husbandry from Michigan State University, her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her post-doc in Craniofacial Biology from the University of Southern California.
She has many years of experience in applying the techniques of statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology to multiple complex human traits (craniofacial birth defects, oral health traits, behavioral traits, premature birth, and others), including many studies of the genetics and phenotypes in nonsyndromic orofacial clefting families. On a current grant, she serves as a co-investigator with Astanand Jugessur and AADR member Jeffrey Murray et al. to facilitate the transmission and analysis of data (genotypes, phenotypes, pregnancy exposures) for a population-based sample of nuclear trios that were ascertained in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for her ongoing studies of oral health and disease. This research was alsofeatured in the May issue of the AADR Science Advocate.
Marazita is also the Principal Investigator of “Extending the Phenotype of Nonsyndromic Orofacial Clefts” and “Factors Contributing to Oral Health Disparities in Appalachia,” and she is a co-Principal Investigator of “FaceBase Management and Coordination Hub,” “3D Analysis of Normal Facial Variation: Data Repository and Genetics (Research),” and co-investigator of “Genetics of Caries” and “A Family and Population Approach to Gene Discovery for Preterm Birth.” Her studies have been published in various journals, including the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research.Marazita recently co-authored a JDR article titled “Taste Genes Associated with Dental Caries.” This research generated much interest and is significant in that it identifies key genes that may explain the susceptibilities of some patients to tooth decay.
How would you describe your experience the first time you presented at an AADR meeting?
The first time I presented at an AADR meeting, I was a little concerned about presenting my research because I’m a geneticist. I wasn’t sure how a geneticist would be viewed by all of the dental research professionals who had been involved in dental research much longer than I had been at the time. However, I found the community to be very welcoming and I was impressed with the quality of research that was presented. There was a lot of really good craniofacial research presented, which was my major topic the first time I presented. The AADR and IADR meetings are really the best meetings I attend to get an over-view of what people involved in dental and craniofacial research are doing.
What are you currently researching?
I’m the director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics and we are investigating craniofacial birth defects, primarily cleft lip and palate; and also dental disorders, primarily dental caries. We have a large project ongoing that has the title “Factors Contributing to Oral Health Disparities in Appalachia.” We’re trying to tease out the various factors that contribute to the very poor oral health in Appalachia. As a geneticist I’m very interested in the genetic part of that but we’re also looking at other facets such as diet, life experiences, oral health and medical health history, the home environment, and other factors such as fluoride in the water and access to dental care. There certainly is also a component in that region related to access to care, but there’s no concrete understanding of what led to the poor oral health other than the poor access to care. There are excellent providers in Appalachia but there is poor oral health in that region.
On the cleft lip and palate side, we have several large projects ongoing with an international focus; we have collaborators on nearly every continent. We’re trying to look at those birth defects in the context of physical features that are seen in other family members. What we have found is that in a family, there can be people who are carrying the risk genes but not expressing the birth defect. Our hypothesis is there are things you can measure in the unaffected family members that reflect carrying the gene but for whatever reason those family members didn’t end up with the cleft. We’re examining physical features and trying to use that information to better understand the genetics that lead to those birth defects.
What role does cross-collaboration have in helping you complete your research?
The cross-collaboration aspect is critical. Now that I have been at the University of Pittsburgh and been involved with other dental researchers, there are a lot of opportunities for networking and cross collaboration. One of the most recent examples of that is that people who are part of AADR and in dental schools that also have a clinical and translational science institute are now meeting regularly to develop some cross-institution research initiatives. I think that is going to be an exciting way to leverage our common interests that first began in AADR.
How are you encouraging your students to pursue careers in craniofacial and dental research?
We have recently developed an understanding in the Department of Genetics that we are going to start a concentration for the Ph.D. students in craniofacial and dental research. Those students will have a Ph.D. in human genetics but they can do a concentration where they take certain courses to hopefully entice them into a career of craniofacial and dental research. There are a lot of unanswered questions about the genetics of these disorders. We’re learning more every day and there are still wide open areas for learning more.
Susan Kinder Haake, D.M.D., Ph.D., is a professor in the Section of Periodontics in the Division of Associated Clinical Specialties at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry. As a clinician-scientist she has been involved in clinical and basic research investigations on the microbiological basis of oral infectious diseases for more than 25 years.
Haake’s educational experience includes earning her D.M.D. from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine; M.Dent.Sc. from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, where she also earned a Periodontology Certificate; and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA.
Her expertise includes the areas of microbial pathogenesis, molecular microbiology, genomics and most recently metagenomics. Her clinical research experience includes studies on the microbiology of periodontal diseases and dental caries. She has been actively involved genomic analysis and the establishment of genetic systems for molecular analysis in the opportunistic oral pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum. Currently, Haake has ongoing support for metagenomic studies to identify molecular signatures of the periodontitis metagenome and to investigate the periodontitis microbiome in healthy and diabetic subjects.
Haake is very active in the field and serves on several boards, including the Editorial Board of the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research. In addition, she participated in several of the National Institutes of Health’s workshops that led to the implementation of the Human Microbiome Project and is actively involved as a body site expert in the analysis of the data generated by Human Microbiome Project.
Haake joined AADR in 1986.
What prompted you to become a clinician-scientist?
I had an interest in health professions, coming from a family that was involved in that field. But also, I’ve always had an interest in science and academics, and enjoy the intellectual stimulation that you get from that environment. I initially went to dental school, and received excellent clinical training, but I went to a three-year program and there wasn’t a lot of time to pursue research interests. After I graduated, I was in a general practice residency at the University of Connecticut and had the opportunity to become involved in some research projects there. That experience really lit my way and was a transforming experience for me in the sense that it got me very excited in science, the scientific basis of therapy, and what we could do to better understand and manage oral disease processes.
How would you describe your experience the first time you presented at an AADR meeting?
I remember it well! The first meeting I attended was in New Orleans and I was scheduled for an oral presentation on Sunday morning, the last day of the meeting. Knowing human nature, I had suspected that most attendees would have left at that point. Sunday morning rolled around and it turned out that my session had a packed room! I gave a presentation on the induction of ligature-induced periodontitis in a monkey model system. It was an exciting experience to present to the research community there. That was a very positive experience for me and it really sealed my interest in pursuing an academic career.
How has cross collaboration benefited your research?
It has been critical to my research. When I first came to UCLA, one of the reasons I chose this position was the opportunity to work with other investigators here. I have had the opportunity to interact with individuals who are world-class in their fields of molecular biology and molecular pathogenesis. That led me down a path where we went into some very basic research on development of genetic systems for an oral microorganism, Fusobacterium nucleatum. The genesis of my interest to a large extent was looking at adherence properties and how this species influenced colonization in dental plaque. We were able to recently come back to that question and use molecular techniques we developed to identify very clearly an adhesion molecule on Fusobacterium nucleatum that we believe to be important in plaque development. Building on that, more recently I’ve gotten into the fields of genomics and metagenomics, again working with outstanding colleagues in this case in molecular biology and bioinformatics. In collaboration with investigators here at UCLA and at the Genome Center at Washington University in St. Louis, we have been generating comprehensive datasets of DNA sequence from clinical samples and the data is being analyzed to better understand periodontal diseases. The field of metagenomics is really expanding our knowledge of the communities of bacteria that are found in the oral cavity.
You are currently conducting research that is supported by a Challenge Grant. Please describe that project.
We are fortunate to be funded on a Challenge Grant to use metagenomics to study the bacteria that are involved in producing chronic periodontitis. What we are doing is extracting the DNA directly from the whole community of plaque to look at all the genetic components there. Our analysis is focused on looking for DNA elements, such as genes or DNA motifs, which will differentiate a diseased periodontitis site from one that has been successfully treated. We hope that ultimately these studies will provide insight into the elements involved in induction of periodontitis as well as in the maintenance of periodontal health.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
AADR is really my intellectual home. This is the community I interact with consistently, and it is a great pleasure to interact with people who have diverse but shared interests in oral diseases and related processes. I think that the networking and the benefit of scientific colleagues with common interests are tremendous.
Gregg H. Gilbert, DDS, MBA, FAAHD, FICD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of General Dental Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry. Prior to joining the UAB School of Dentistry, he was a Professor at the University of Florida.
Gilbert earned his BS and DDS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his MBA from the University of Florida, a certificate from Louisiana State University, Charity Hospital, and another certificate from the Veterans Administration, Harvard University.
Gilbert’s research career has focused on oral health clinical research, including its oral epidemiologic and dental behavioral science aspects. He has a special interest in high-risk populations. Currently, Gilbert is the Principal Investigator for two NIH-funded studies: a large Dental Practice-Based Research Network (www.dentalpbrn.org; U01-DE-16747; 2005-2012) and a randomized clinical trial of xylitol for adult dental caries (U01-DE-18049; 2006-2011).
As an active member of IADR and AADR, he has served on the Editorial Board of the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research, the AADR National Affairs Committee, the IADR Constitution Committee, and most recently the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award Selection Committee. He has also served on numerous grant application review committees for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs and research foundations.
Gilbert has received various accolades for his research and in 2002, he received the Distinguished Scientist Award in Geriatric Oral Research from IADR.
Joined AADR in 1984.
What attracted you to the field of dental research and how did you become involved in it?I was attracted into dentistry initially through a fascination with human physiology and pathology. I chose dentistry because the oral cavity seemed especially interesting, as well to have a career that could avoid dealing with certain problems commonly seen in medicine. After having been accepted into dental school in 1980, I had a light load planned for my last semester as an undergraduate. I therefore walked into what at the time was called the UNC Dental Research Center and asked if they had any student employment positions. I began by washing laboratory glassware in a tissue culture laboratory, and eventually served as a part-time research assistant each year during dental school. This immersed me in research and exposed me to the possibilities of a career in oral health research, thanks to two conscientious faculty mentors, to whom I will always be grateful.
Describe the first time you presented at an AADR Annual Meeting.
I presented results from my tissue culture research as a first-year dental student at the AADR meeting in 1982. I presented in the Hatton Awards competition. Other than a ‘table clinic’ presented at the dental school, this was my first scientific presentation. This was also my first exposure to the notion that there was an organized dental research organization that provided a place where one could present and network with colleagues.
What are you currently researching?
I am director of “The Dental Practice-Based Research Network” (DPBRN; www.dentalpbrn.org) and this occupies the majority of my time. We have investigated a broad range of clinical research topics using a full range of study designs, successfully engaging more than 1,000 practitioner-investigators from across the United States and Scandinavia. DPBRN emphasizes doing “practical science” about, in, and for the benefit of "real world" clinical practice. This means that the practitioner-investigators and patients themselves actively participate in developing ideas for studies as well as in designing, conducting, and communicating this research - all with the intent of having a direct, practical impact on everyday clinical practice. I also serve as Principal Investigator for the UAB site of a randomized clinical trial called “Xylitol for Adult Caries” (www.kpchr.org/x-act/public/index.aspx?pageid=1), which is a multi-center trial directed by UNC-CH.
How important is it for you to cross-collaborate with other scientific disciplines in order to advance your research?
Interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial to advance this research. It is only through successfully collaborating as respected equals that investigators from diverse scientific disciplines can move clinical science forward in the most expeditious and cost-effective manner. This includes collaborating as equals with clinicians in everyday clinical practice, who I can assure you have an immense amount of practical clinical wisdom.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?AADR provides an important infrastructure that facilitates oral health researchers’ learning about each other’s research, interacting in a collegial manner for the benefit of the science, and advocating for oral health research at the societal level. It provides an organized means for our field to stay “on the radar screen” as other fields compete for the attention and dollars of policy makers and the public at large. I am very grateful for AADR’s many roles and am very glad to be a part of it.
You’re a member of several IADR Scientific Groups. How has participating in these groups helped you as a researcher?
The scientific groups of which I am a member are welcoming groups that are clearly committed to helping young investigators get integrated into a network of colleagues who will be interested in their work, who may end up being collaborators with them one day, and who collectively can advocate for the value of the type of research that they conduct.
What advice do you offer to your students to help them achieve success in their careers?
The future of oral health research is bright. I advise students to make a point of keeping their eyes and ears open to all of the numerous possibilities that regularly present themselves to advance the health of the nation. They should also make a point of preparing themselves well to contribute to research that capitalizes on these possibilities, and pursue the possibilities about which they are the most invigorated. This sense of invigoration will provide them the energy and focus that is so necessary to be successful long-term.
Carla A. Evans, D.D.S, D.M.Sc., is Professor and Head of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry. She earned her doctoral degree from Harvard University and it was the first Doctor of Medical Sciences in Oral Biology degree awarded at the university.
Evans’ research interests include normal and abnormal facial growth and development, application of computer imaging to orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning, orthodontic materials, and evaluation of treatment outcomes. She has shared her research knowledge with others by authoring/co-authoring more than 150 publications. Recent publications deal with treatment of cleft lip/palate patients, psychometric evaluation of facial esthetic preferences, antimicrobial and physical properties of orthodontic adhesives, experimental tooth movement and inhibition of orthodontic root resorption in rats, testing of synostosed human cranial sutures, and development of stem cell technologies for treatment of craniofacial anomalies.
Evans is a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and has served as on the editorial board of several scientific journals, including the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research. Being very active in AADR, she has been a Council of the Association’s Chicago Section since 1997. She has also served on the AADR Board and several committees.
Joined AADR in 1976
What attracted you to the field of dental research and how did you become involved in it?
I came into dentistry through the research door, starting in Jim Avery's laboratory at the University of Michigan Dental School at the beginning of my second year of college upon the advice of my undergraduate chemistry advisor. Soon he had my application to dental school, gave me a little space in his laboratory to call my own during dental school, and fostered my interest in the area of developmental biology. I was the Dr. Avery’s first female student and the only female in my dental school class at the time.
Describe the first time you presented at an AADR Annual Meeting.I was a dental student the first time I presented at an AADR meeting and the research that I presented that year ended up in a publication. I always thought of that as reaching a high achievement at a fast pace. At that same first meeting I was able to meet the people from the NIDCR—at that time it was the NIDR. Meeting those people and forming those connections helped me to have the opportunity to spend one summer in dental school working at a lab at the NIH.
What are you currently researching?
I’ve been working with Ann George in the oral biology department here and we are looking at non-radiographic ways to detect root resorption. Usually by the time you see root resorption on radiographs it’s too late. You don’t usually see it until a fair amount of the root is gone. We’re looking at a crevicular fluid for a dentist-specific protein. Another research interest is orthodontal materials because the biggest changes in orthodontics have been in materials. I’m also interested in the outcomes of treatment, particularly in the treatment of children who have anomalies.
How important is it for you to cross-collaborate with other scientific disciplines in order to advance your research?Most of my research is done with people in other departments. The things that I’ve been working on with people from other universities are more so in the education realm than in the basic science lab. There’s a lot happening in education—we’re working very hard on making the transition from two-dimensional diagnoses to three-dimensional. We’re also trying to figure out how to structure the courses and the curriculum to facilitate that change. It’s something that no one university can do alone, it’s requires cross-collaborating with other universities and having a group meetings.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
One of the most valuable benefits is having access to information that keeps me current with what’s going on in dental research and oral sciences. Attending the AADR meetings has been valuable, and by attending the meetings and talks I can keep up with the latest research and converse with dental and research faculty from other universities.
Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, D.D.S., Ph.D., is the Associate Professor, School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
At the UNC School of Dentistry, Webster-Cyriaque leads a team of dental students who travel to Malawi each year. The students who participate in the UNC Malawi Dental Project help to promote awareness of oral manifestations of AIDS/HIV amongst Malawian dental patients.
Webster-Cyriaque also heads a lab at UNC. A goal of the JWC laboratory is to understand viral molecular pathogenesis in oral disease, in states of health and immunocompromise. Her laboratory is seeking to understand the critical molecular interactions between the virus and the host that govern the development of oral lesions and malignancies.
Webster-Cyriaque has earned many accolades for her research, including the Dental Research and Review Postdoctoral Award from the North Carolina Section of AADR. She has co-authored nearly 30 papers and they have been published in various scientific journals, including the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research and Advances in Dental Research, an e-supplement to the Journal of Dental Research.
Joined AADR in 2001.
How did you first get involved with AADR?
As a first-year dental student, I did summer research at the University of Rochester. We submitted an abstract to present at the AADR meeting the following March. I attended that meeting and was astounded to see what was happening in dentistry, it was way beyond my experiences at school level. I was awestruck and thought that the questions that were being asked to move the field of dentistry forward were just awesome. I’ve been active with AADR ever since because my AADR colleagues are like-minded people on the same quest—we’re all trying to work toward helping people achieve optimum oral health. Since then I have developed networks with peers around the globe who are interested in answering some of those questions. That’s optimal for me. AADR has been a wonderful professional organization that combines clinical aspects with the bench and public health research.
What attracted you to dentistry and research?I knew as an undergrad that I wanted to go into health care. I had a double major in biology, and health and human services/social sciences. I was deciding which health care profession to enter, and dentistry was perfect because I’m creative and have pretty good dexterity, and I’m a people person. I enjoy the immediate gratification that occurs when patients come in and I relieve their pain or provide them an aesthetic so that when they leave, they are leaving with something. I’ve been able to provide a service to my patients to make them feel better about themselves. When I was in dental school, there were many diseases that we learned about in oral medicine and pathology but we didn’t understand their etiology. I was really intrigued by that. I love these areas of dentistry. This gap was one of the things that helped me decide to go on to the next step and pursue a Ph.D. so that I would have the tools to be able to answer some of those questions.
How did the UNC Malawi Dental Project come to fruition?
In 2000, I attended a world workshop that focused on the oral manifestation of HIV/AIDS, which was held in South Africa. During that visit to Africa, I went to Malawi and met with the Dental Association of Malawi to provide continuing education, together with Ron Straus also at UNC. We discussed with the Malawian dentists the potential to have the UNC Dentistry students come and rotate in the summers to have an experience there. UNC already had a robust collaboration ongoing in Malawi through the Division of Infectious Diseases. Two years later, our first group of students went to Malawi, and they have been going annually every year since then.. I serve in the capacity as an advisor to the group.
Describe the experience when the students go to Malawi for this project.
Students are in Malawi anywhere from 2-3 weeks in the summer. Their experience is they work at the Central Hospital in the morning, together with the dental therapist and the dentists, Dr. Mlotha, Dr. Nyrienda and Dr. Kabuwe. In the afternoon they go to orphanages and talk to children about the importance of dental hygiene and oral manifestations of AIDS. To prepare for the trip, they come over to the UNC hospital dental clinic weekly for a couple months prior to the trip, to spend some time with me seeing medically-compromised patients. During this time they see what oral manifestations are and they learn firsthand how to do the examinations. After this, we do a CE course to prepare them to go to Malawi. They always return from the Malawi Project stating that the experience was life-affirming and life-changing for them. They have learned a great deal about humanity, pathology and dentistry (www.dentistry.unc.edu/student/orgs/malawi).
How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
Cross collaboration is critical. The dental, oral and craniofacial research community wouldn’t be able to move forward without collaborating with people in other scientific disciplines. There’s a great deal that goes on in other fields, from which we can capitalize. Within dentistry there’s a significant opportunity for collaboration that occurs at different institutes. Likewise, there’s much that we do that we can share with others. It would be a mistake for us to operate in dental silos because we wouldn’t be able to move the science forward as quickly as need be.
How has participating in an IADR Scientific Group helped you as a researcher?Participation in an AADR Scientific group has been a wonderful experience. I think the community is very open. After attending one of the first oral presentations I gave as a Ph.D. student, a member of the IADR Oral Medicine and Pathology Scientific Group, John Greenspan, encouraged me to attend the IADR group meeting that evening. The group was welcoming and encouraged me to join. That was almost 20 years ago and I have become so involved in that group and that is my home at AADR. I have been involved at the leadership level, I’ve collaborated with a number of people who are active in that group and it has been a wonderful catapult for both basic research studies and for clinical trials work such as the Oral HIV AIDS Research Alliance (OHARA).
Paul H. Krebsbach, D.D.S., Ph.D., is the Roy H. Roberts Professor of Dentistry and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He serves as the Chair of the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences and Division of Prosthodontics. Krebsbach received his D.D.S. degree from the University of Minnesota and his certificate in Periodontology and Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Connecticut Health Center. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, he served as a Senior Staff Fellow for three years at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Krebsbach’s research program focuses on tissue regeneration, cell and molecular biology of mineralized tissues with an emphasis on gene therapy-directed osteogenesis and bone marrow stromal cell biology. The Krebsbach Lab is currently researching Functional Characterization of the Stem Cell Niche (NIH R01 DK082481), Engineering Multi-Tissue Interfaces (NIH R01 DE018890) and Osteoblast Lineage Progression from Human Embryonic Stem Cells (NIH R01 DE 016530).
Being very active in IADR and AADR, Krebsbach has served as president of the IADR Mineralized Tissue Group and treasurer for AADR. Currently he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Dental Research. He has chaired both the AADR William J. Gies Award Committee and the AADR Edward H. Hatton Award Committee, and has served on the AADR Constitution Committee.
Krebsbach has received many accolades for his research and is the 2010 recipient of the IADR Basic Research in Biological Mineralization Award.
Joined AADR in 1986.
How did you first get involved in AADR?I became involved in AADR almost immediately as a dental student at the University of Minnesota. I was deeply involved in the student research program there and spent my summers doing research. My mentors were really instrumental in teaching me how to do and communicate science. That involved writing scientific manuscripts and abstracts to present at the AADR Annual Meetings, which helped me get involved in the Association. In a lot of ways AADR has been a scientific home and a place where all the diverse aspects of dental research come together. I find it to be a good networking organization. AADR also does a great job of advocating for the needs of their constituents.
What attracted you to dentistry and research?
I went to dental school because I thought that would be the best way for me to be an artist and a scientist at the same time. I was working with my hands and doing artistic things, but I also studied science and medicine. As a dental student I felt that the science part wasn’t in-depth enough to satisfy my curiosities. Therefore, I became more involved in research and decided to carry that even further into a Ph.D. and a post doc beyond that. Doing so allowed me to be involved in the process of the discovery and generate the new knowledge rather than just study and memorize what someone else had done.
What advice do you offer to your students to help them achieve success in their careers?Because the pace of science and technology is advancing so rapidly, every year there’s something new and there is great potential to make this an exciting and rewarding career. I think the opportunities are almost limitless for someone who is curious and interested in science and discovering new things. I encourage my students to keep their eyes open, be open to collaborate, and to attend meetings and read papers that they may not normally read because they may seem outside of their field. I think that by considering things that are seemingly unrelated and putting them together in new ways, the students can really enhance the process of discovery. Unfortunately I don’t think there are enough dental students interested in dental research, but the ones who are interested in it are phenomenal in how they are able to synthesize all of these things together. As faculty, we must create an environment that fosters that kind of student so that we can make sure the next generation of oral health researchers is ready to take the lead.
How are you creating that environment?
Primarily I serve as a mentor in my laboratory. At the school level, we are making modifications to our curriculum designed specifically to enable interested students to have a clear pathway to a scientific career. From the day students enter dental school, we want to show them and enable them to explore a range of career possibilities that include research.
How important has it been for you to cross collaborate with researchers in other scientific disciplines?It has been absolutely essential to any of the success that I have had. I seek to surround myself with people who can add components to my scientific program that I can’t do myself. My career wouldn’t be as fulfilling if I was just doing my own research in my own lab at my university. My network and collaborations across fields have really enriched my life and my science.
Ophir D. Klein, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Departments of Orofacial Sciences and Pediatrics and the Institutes for Human Genetics and Regeneration Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Last year, he was appointed as Director of the UCSF Program in Craniofacial and Mesenchymal Biology, a cross-campus program based in the School of Dentistry. As an active member of AADR and IADR, he is a director of the Craniofacial Biology Scientific Group and he serves on the Science Information Committee.
The research in the Klein lab is centered on understanding and treating the processes underlying craniofacial and dental malformations, which are among the most common congenital abnormalities and have profound impacts on the lives of patients and their families. The main focus of the lab is the use of mice as a genetic model system to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for normal and perturbed development of teeth, skeleton, taste papillae, and other organs. Specifically, Klein is interested in the role of growth factor signaling and cell-matrix interactions in the formation of orofacial structures, in the mineralization of bones, and in the regulation of adult stem cells in teeth.
Klein’s research is widely published and he has earned many accolades, including the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine New Faculty Award, the March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Award and the ASBMR Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award.
Joined AADR in 2008.
1993 University of California, Berkeley B.A., Spanish
1999 Yale University, New Haven, Conn. Ph.D., Genetics
2000 Yale University, New Haven, Conn. M.D.
What led you to enter the field of craniofacial research?
I followed a bit of a winding path to end up here. After my pediatric residency, I was a clinical genetics fellow at UCSF and during my fellowship I became interested in syndromes involving the craniofacial complex. At the same time, I was working in the lab of Gail Martin and found a mouse mutant that had dental abnormalities. I didn’t know anything about teeth at that time, because I am a pediatrician and not a dentist. As I started to interact with the dental research community both at UCSF and at other institutions, I became interested in dental stem cells and it just all came together between the clinical and the basic science components.
How has AADR been instrumental to your career in dental and craniofacial research?I think AADR is great at giving members opportunities to interact and to present their work. I first became involved with AADR when I was invited to give a talk at a symposium, and I enjoyed the meeting so much that I joined. The main attractions for me were having access to collaborators, being able to network and meet people in the field, and being able to meet with program officers from NIDCR and learn about funding opportunities. This year, as a director of the Craniofacial Biology Scientific Group, I co-organized a symposium at the AADR Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. I’m also on the IADR Science Information Committee. I’m very committed to AADR, and I find the meetings very useful.
What research are you currently conducting?
In my lab, a lot of our current work is devoted to developing the rodent incisor as a model for dental stem cells and for regeneration in general. We also have major efforts in embryonic tooth development as well as in the development of other organs, including taste papillae of the tongue, the skeleton and the genitourinary tract. We focus in large part on Sprouty genes, which are antagonists of fibroblast growth factor signaling, but we also study a number of other signaling pathways and transcriptional regulators. Our work involves looking into the basic aspects of how genes are involved in regulating development and stem cells, and we feel that doing the basic biology is really important. Of course clinical applications are what we all hope to achieve in the long run but I think it’s really important to continue doing the basic science so that we can understand more deeply how biology works.
You are the recipient of the 2009-2011 March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Award. What research is being funded through this award?I was really pleased that the March of Dimes funded this research project because I thought that it was out-of-the-box for them. The award is funding a project using the rodent incisor model in which we are looking at the function of a particular cell adhesion molecule. That research was presented at the IADR General Session in Barcelona. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend that meeting, but Chunying Li, a scientist from my lab (also an AADR/IADR member), gave a platform presentation on that work. Now, I’m writing another March of Dimes grant to seek funding for a more clinical project to look at genetic abnormalities in patients in our UCSF Center for Craniofacial Anomalies.
What are some of your research goals?
One of our major goals is to obtain a strong understanding of how genetic and cellular mechanisms regulate the ability of stem cells to contribute to dental renewal at a fundamental level. Another goal is to try to understand how stem cells developed during evolution. We think that teeth are a great developmental model and that they will allow us to combine evolutionary studies in terms of paleontology and morphology with genetics studies. Another big area that I am focusing on now is to really try to develop the research enterprise in our UCSF Center for Craniofacial Anomalies.
What advice or encouragement do you offer your students who want to pursue careers in dental research?I have a couple of students who are in the D.D.S./Ph.D. program in my lab. I’m really excited for them and the work they are doing because I think they have enormous opportunities ahead of them if they work hard and push to excel. In general, I try to encourage and challenge my students to do their best and to trust that they will have very bright futures if they do so. Last year, one of my students, Alex Nee, won an IADR/Unilever Hatton Award at the Miami meeting and that was a proud moment. He’s now an orthodontic resident at UCSF and I think he had a good experience doing research while in dental school that will be valuable for him throughout his career. Working in a research lab was a really amazing time for me as a student and I hope I can help to make it as exciting for those students who work in my lab.
Clark Stanford, D.D.S, Ph.D., joined the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1992. He became associate dean for research in 2008 and was named Centennial Fund Professor of Clinical Research in 2000. Stanford also became director of the Office for the Clinical Research in 2002. He holds secondary appointments in the, Department of Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Surgery (College of Medicine), and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (College of Engineering).
Stanford is currently working on four projects: the evaluation of the differential osteoblast response to oxide metal surfaces; characterization of matrix associated glycoproteins in an in vitro culture system; collaborative work with the Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospitals and Clinics, involving bone responses to a mechanically active environment. He has a range of research projects dealing with translational technologies to improve bone adaptation to orthopedic and dental implant surfaces. He recently started a new research program on oral facial pain in the Dental Clinical Research Center in collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences.
As a talented researcher, Stanford has earned many accolades for his findings. He is a past recipient of the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award for Prosthodontics and Implants, and the AADR Edward Hatton Award. In 2006, he received the JDR Article of the Year award. Showing a strong commitment to IADR and the dental research field, he has served on the IADR Research Award Nomination Committee since 2003.
Joined AADR in 1984.
Education:1984 University of Iowa B.S., Zoology
1987 University of Iowa D.D.S, Dentistry
1992 University of Iowa Ph.D., Cell Biology
1992 University of Iowa Certificate in Prosthodontics
How did you first get involved with AADR?
I first became involved with AADR as a dental student while working in a dental research laboratory at the ADA. I was really fascinated at the prospect of the creative process of research discovery, assimilation and presenting research findings to my peers. Later, I realized the importance of the networking aspect and the value of having connections in different disciplines. Through networking and listening to allied disciplines, I made strong connections and knew who to call when I had research-related questions. This is the value of AADR.
What do you find is the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?One of the biggest advantages of my AADR membership is being able to network with others in different scientific disciplines and fields, and having the opportunity to present my research at meetings. At the meeting, you get a good sense of what happens in the research world and you get to meet new collaborators. My career has been to seek out others in different fields and collaborate, which has been a fun aspect of my career. The networking aspect is valuable, in addition to AADR’s advocacy and other elements that help PI’s on a day-to-day basis.
Where do you feel the research community would be without AADR?
AADR is the coherent, unified voice for dental, oral and craniofacial research, and without the Association there wouldn’t be a unified voice. We have been able to obtain a certain level of resource funding because of AADR’s advocacy and I want to see a continued advocacy role as the Association delivers important messages to Congress.
What do you want to see in the future for the AADR?I think AADR needs to continue its outreach with other professional academies and associations because these groups can help amplify the message that is being sent to congress. The future of dental education is in jeopardy because existing dental schools are having a difficult time attracting faculty. As an added threat, there’s a questionable research component in the newer dental schools now coming online. We need to continue to convey the value of research to faculty and new schools. That’s a key place where AADR can show value and advocate.
What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
Typically in dental education, some students want to know how to do something. Then, there is a smaller number of students who want to go beyond the “hows” and find out “why” things happen. Those students will ask “why” an outcome has occurred, consider the mechanisms leading to this outcome and start to consider the new “how” in avoiding dental and oral health disease. This is a segue into dental research. Even if a student decides to pursue a non-research career, I firmly believe there is benefit for students to complete a research study while they are in dental school. Doing so gives them problem-solving skills and adds value to her/his clinical education, making them both a better researcher and clinician. For added value, I present at schools to show students that the clinical researchers are addressing current problems and adapting solutions to real world problems. Students will always be surprised at how much they can learn through mentors. These mentors can be clinical and/or research faculty. A key to our future is to engage our students in important questions, to show the limits of our knowledge and to use this as a carrot to engage these minds in becoming the solutions to these issues though AADR.
Michael Reddy D.M.D., D.M.Sc., is a professor and chair of Periodontology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Dentistry, where he has been employed since 1989.
His research interest in biomaterials and the application of dental implants stems from his background as a clinical scientist studying bone resorption associated with periodontal diseases and tooth loss replacement with dental implants. His expertise is in the development and evaluation of regenerative medicine and biomimetic therapeutic approaches to guide bone regeneration for periodontal disease, dental implants and oral bone loss.
He received his Periodontics Certificate and D.M.Sc. degrees from Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He is presently the Chairman of the Department of Periodontics at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry.
Reddy is an associate editor of the Journal of Periodontology. He is an Ad hoc reviewer for the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research as well as the Journal of the American Dental Association. Reddy is a world-renowned lecturer and researcher in the field of periodontics.
Joined AADR in 1986.
1981 B.S. University of Hartford, Hartford, Conn., Biology
1986 D.M.D. Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Mass.,
1989 Certificate Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Mass.,
1989 D.M.Sc. Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston Mass.,
What motivated you to pursue a career in dental research?I had conducted some research in college and was intrigued by it. When I went on to dental school, I sought out that opportunity because I was interested in it and it was a part-time job for me. I learned about certain areas and what was happening, and how to change healthcare. What I do is very translational and it’s very interesting in that regard. My driving force is to fundamentally change how people think about healthcare and change the way they do business.
What are some of the changes you want to see made in healthcare as it relates to oral health?
There are a number of issues. We need to have greater access to care for the entire population. We need to have a better understanding of mechanisms and how things are perceived. We need to figure out the interactions between oral diseases and other diseases of the body and what is the systemic link of inflammation and how does that work. We need to look at how we get what we’re working on in dental research to practicing dentists or oral care physicians. Those are some of the major focuses.
How does your current research relate to these changes that you want to see made in the future of oral health care?With a lot of what we are working on, our focus is starting with the understanding of pathogenesis of periodontal diseases through the modeling of clinical disease progression. From that it has evolved into this understanding of oral inflammation and the potential mechanism association with systemic disease. In some of these multi-center trials we are looking at periodontal disease and pre-term birth, diabetes, and because I have had a focus in bone I am looking at osteoporosis and bone loss. We are working on reconnecting the head to the rest of the body.
How would you say AADR is helping you work to improve oral health?
I think AADR serves two purposes. One is to advance the science and its understanding and two, AADR is unique in its approach to promoting oral health care and oral aspects of disease, which is a critical aspect of improving oral health. No one really works independently, especially when one is going to translate findings to health care; you need room to multitask, study and allow that interaction of getting people together and forming consortiums and clinical networks to go ahead and solve some of these problems.
Do you think we are moving in the right direction with the passing of health care reform?I think overall it’s the right thing to do. Certainly we are moving in that direction, we just need to make sure that we keep oral health care as part of health care so that it doesn’t get left behind.
How has AADR been instrumental in your career as a dental researcher?
AADR has been great from the point of view that even when I started off, I can remember going to my first meeting, and presenting an abstract and having people I had only read about come up to me and offer advice. It was very much a collegial atmosphere that was contagious. It’s really important for young scientists to attend these meetings and get to know people. Some of the greatest interaction at meetings takes place over a cup of coffee and in the aisles between the posters, sometimes more than in the scientific sessions. In this economy, some people are scaling back and looking to see where they can cut back, and they don’t attend meetings because they think they cannot afford to do so, which really worsens a recession. In general, it’s definitely important for people to continue to support the Association and attend the meetings.