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July 2018 – Marian Young

Marian F. Young is Chief of the Molecular Biology of Bones and Teeth Section in the Craniofacial and Skeletal Diseases Branch of the NIDCR. She received her Ph.D. in developmental biology from the Department of Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. After a fellowship in the Lab of Developmental Biology and Anomalies at the NIDR Young headed a group in the Mineralized Tissue Research Branch where she began her investigations on the molecular biology and function of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in skeletal tissues. Her current research focuses on regulation and function of small proteoglycans in mineralized tissues and in their potential role in controlling pathological skeletal conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and ectopic ossification.

During the course of her career Young has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, reviews and book chapters on the molecular biology of ECM in mineralizing tissue. She has organized several symposia and scientific conferences on the topic of bones and teeth, mineralization and the ECM. Young has supervised dozens of research fellows and students and considers training of young investigators to be a critical role as a senior investigator at the NIDCR.

  1. How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?

I’ve been in this field for many years. I started research on bones and teeth back in 1984 and my mentor at the time was John D. Termine. He was focusing on mineralized tissues and he was also active in the Association. We were in the dental institute so AADR was a logical community for us to join. We would go to the meetings and join the Scientific Groups and Networks — I really do love the society.

  1. What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?

What I like that IADR/AADR is its sense of community. The tight-knit network that IADR/AADR creates is very important — we all help each other and ultimately work towards the same goals. It’s a unique field and you need to have colleagues that have a similar interest, even though the subfields are diverse. We all share the theme of dental, oral and craniofacial research and it creates a platform for dental scientists.

  1. What do you want to see in the future for AADR?

I want AADR to continue on their very good path. The IADR/AADR journals and the meetings are fantastic. I also love the way all the dental schools are connected — it’s a beautiful thing. Then all the students get to know each other. I want AADR to continue with the community theme.

  1. What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?

A great way to get involved is by joining an IADR Scientific Group or Network. At meetings the Groups and Networks have socials. You might not know a lot of people at the meeting but you can easily connect with others in your specific area of research. There are events for students, dental schools, young investigators — there are multiple ways for attendees to connect. When we go to meetings we are there to learn but also to connect. I love seeing old friends and colleagues but I also look forward to making new friends and connections too.

  1. How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?

Cross-collaboration is important, but it can be a double-edged sword. There are many fields we can interface with and we want to make the field of dental research attractive to as many people as possible, but we still need to keep our own identity.

  1. Tell us about your role and research at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). How has collaborating with AADR benefited the NIDCR and the field of dental, oral and craniofacial research?

My field of study is in the molecular biology of bones and teeth but really I am interested in mineralized tissue and skeletons which includes not only bones and teeth but all their associating structures such as cartilage, tendons and muscle. The subcategory that I focus on is the extracellular matrix, the component which resides outside the cell, and my niche area of study is on proteoglycans. We create animal models that are deficient in specific ECM components. We take out the matrix genes one by one and look at the outcome.

As for how AADR benefited the NIDCR, several of my students have gone on to dental school and are starting their own research labs. The community that AADR has created is very important to them. They start out by presenting their work, possibly joining committees next and then became more integrated over time. AADR has been very instrumental in my training and mentoring process.

Previous Article June 2018 - Ana Karina Mascarenhas
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