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Chunlin Qin - March 2017

Chunlin Qin, D.D.S., Ph.D. is a tenured professor and vice chair in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University College of Dentistry, Dallas. He earned his master’s degree and D.D.S. at Harbin Medical University School of Dentistry, China; and his Ph.D. from Okayama University Graduate School of Dentistry, Japan. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Dental Branch, USA.

Qin's main research interest is to investigate the roles of the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in the formation and mineralization of dentin (the bulk tissue shaping the contour of a tooth) and bone. He has been seeking to understand the overall processes of tooth and bone formation by focusing upon the nature, metabolism, tissue/cell localization and functions of the ECM molecules in dentin and bone, two tissues that resemble each other in composition and mechanisms of formation. In addition to a predominant collagenous matrix, dentin and bone contain non-collagenous proteins that play vital roles in the formation of dentin by odontoblsts and in the homeostatic mechanisms of formation and breakdown of bone by osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts. Qin's research group is mainly interested in the roles of non-collagenous proteins in dentinogenesis and osteogenesis.

One of Qin's longstanding research projects focuses on the members of the SIBLING family (one category of non-collagenous proteins), which includes dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1), dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP), bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteopontin (OPN).  He has made important discoveries about the structure and functions of DMP1 and DSPP, two molecules that play critical roles in dentinogenesis and osteogenesis. He discovered that DMP1 is processed into the NH2- and COOH-terminal fragments by proteolytic cleavage of specific peptide bonds, and his research work has established that the proteolytic cleavage of DMP1 at selected X-Asp bonds is an activation step essential to the formation of dentin and bone.  His group discovered that, in addition to dentinogenesis, DSPP also plays a critical role for the development of cementum and alveolar bone.  Qin’s lab has proven that the proteolytic cleavage of DSPP and selected X-Asp bonds activate this protein precursor. More recently, Qin’s group revealed that FAM20C (Family with sequence similarity 20-member C, a protein kinase) plays essential roles in the formation of mineralized tissues, and participate in the regulation of FGF23 and the maintenance of total body phosphorus homeostasis. His discoveries on FAM20C have not only made great impact on the research of dentin biology but also significantly influenced other biological fields. 

The results from Qin’s studies have led to a better understanding of how tooth and bone form. Such fundamental information about the mechanisms governing odontogenesis and osteogenesis is essential for understanding the pathogeneses of dental and skeletal defects occurring in systemic and inherited diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, dentinogenesis imperfecta and dentin dysplasia. The broad and in depth knowledge resulting from the Qin’s studies is necessary for establishing scientifically based treatment modalities for dental-craniofacial and skeletal defects, and for the regeneration of the mineralized tissues. In the past two decades, Qin has published more than 100 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and authored 6 book chapters.

Since joining AADR in 2000, Qin has served the Association in several capacities through participating in the AADR Ethics Committee, AADR Nominating Committee, the JDR Editorial Board and through serving as an IADR Group/Network officer. Currently, he is the president for the Mineralized Tissue Group of International Association for Dental Research (IADR)/AADR. In 2016, he received the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Pulp Biology & Regeneration, which recognizes, encourages, and stimulates outstanding research contributions in the field of pulp biology. 

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I learned about AADR after I moved to the US and attended the AADR Annual Meeting in 2000, which was the very first dental meeting that I had ever attended and at which I gave an oral presentation. That is also what led me to join AADR and I have attended the meetings ever since then. 

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
I believe the most valuable benefit of my AADR membership has been the opportunity to attend the meetings. By attending the meetings I’m able to explore research, network and share my research with others in the field. 

How important has AADR been in your career?
Through AADR, I have been able to make connections that have helped me grow my research. I’ve made those connections through attending the meetings but also participating as in the IADR Mineralized Tissue Group, where I currently serve as the president, and also serving on AADR Committees. By participating in my IADR Scientific Group and volunteering to serve on AADR Committees, I have made innumerable connections that have been very helpful to my career. 

What are the benefits of attending the AADR Annual Meeting?
I have attended the AADR Annual Meeting or IADR General Session every year since I joined the Associations. It’s important for me to attend the meetings because I learn the latest science in the field and I have opportunities to present my research. Additionally, I’m able to recruit postdocs and trainees, and I meet scientists that can lead to future collaborations. There is no better place to do this than at the IADR and AADR meetings. 

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
The best way to get involved in AADR is to attend the meetings. Apply for the Bloc Travel Grant if you are a student and need assistance attending the meeting. AADR has other grants and award opportunities that are available to members. Then, present your research at the IADR and AADR meetings. Attending the meetings and presenting your research gives you great exposure. If you’re looking for other ways to get involved, you can volunteer on a Committee or in your Scientific Group or Network. 

What’s a message you want to give to dental students?
Prior to becoming a researcher, I was a dentist for 11 years. I knew the technical aspects of dentistry but I didn’t know the research. It’s important for dental students to also pursue research so that they have an understanding of science, which will ultimately benefit patients. 

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