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Alpdogan Kantarci - August 2016

Alpdogan Kantarci, D.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., is an associate member of the staff, Department of Applied Oral Sciences at The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Mass. He’s also an adjunct associate professor of molecular & cell biology at Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. 

Kantarci earned his D.D.S., M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Istanbul, Turkey. He moved to the U.S. to work as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Thomas Van Dyke. He earned his certificate of advanced graduate study in periodontology at Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. During his academic career, Kantarci has been actively involved in training, education and patient care, in addition to being a scientist in the field of periodontology and inflammation research.

The underlying theme in much of Kantarci’s research is inflammation, specifically the molecular mechanisms and resolution pathways of inflammation in patients with periodontal disease. Since inflammation is the basis of many diseases in the human body, emphasis in Kantarci’s lab is placed on understanding the role of various conditions that affect the immune and inflammatory responses by the host to microbes. 

As a board-certified periodontist, Kantarci is focused on saliva as a diagnostic milieu for dental-oral diseases as well as systemic conditions. He has been working on the clinical applications of high-throughput analysis in his research, in particularly using xMAP Multiplexing (Luminex) for salivary diagnostics.

In parallel, he works on the role of osteoblasts and osteoclasts during orthodontic tooth movement, and is applying novel techniques to shorten the treatment time for orthodontic patients. These include the use of minimally invasive surgical approaches and non-invasive technologies such as visible light.  The benefits of accelerated tooth movement will be especially important for adults who want less time in braces. 

Kantarci joined IADR in 1998 and later joined AADR after moving to the U.S. from Istanbul. He has been a very involved member and has served the Associations as an AADR Boston Section officer, and IADR Periodontal Research Group secretary, president, treasurer and councilor, and through service on the JDR Editorial Board. 

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I originally joined IADR when I was a doctoral student in Turkey and when I joined I also became a member of the IADR Continental European Division. After I moved to the United States, I continued my IADR membership and joined AADR. I realized that IADR was the most important research body that represented dental scientists around the world and I wanted to be part of the organization. I also wanted to be able to present my research at the IADR meetings and that is what originally led me to join—it’s a great learning and sharing environment.

What is one of the most valuable benefits of your AADR membership?
One of the most valuable benefits of my membership has been having access to a global network of researchers. One of the important lessons I have learned through my IADR/AADR involvement is how to be humble about my research and to make sure that my research is relevant. This is why it’s important for me to attend the meetings because there I’m able to discuss my research with other colleagues and ask them questions. When I ask questions and learn from my peers, I’m able to test my knowledge and create a better understanding of the complex physiological mechanisms and pathologies of the dentoalveolar organ. It is a fascinating and unique area in human body; AADR/IADR meetings create the best platform for expanding the knowledge.  

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
One way for other AADR members to get more involved in AADR is by presenting their research at IADR and AADR meetings. I have not missed any IADR or AADR meeting since I joined in 1998. The Associations provide a great platform for exchanging new ideas and research, and networking with friends. The meetings are an excellent way to take advantage of that platform. It’s also important for students and junior scientists to be involved in AADR. I encourage all of my students and my team to be part of IADR through membership and meeting participation to help them further their research. 

What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers to encourage them to be successful in their careers? 
No matter the career path they choose, I encourage students to discover their passion, to always ask questions and to remain curious. If they stop being curious, they will stop finding answers and eventually they will drift away from their field. Remaining curious is a critical aspect of our field (as any other field in science) because that curiosity can bring answers, and if students stay relevant, they won’t drift away, which ultimately will help them have a fulfilling career.

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