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Improving Dental Care through Research
(December 2014)
Dr. Gregg Gilbert In 2012, NIDCR awarded a $66.8 million, seven-year grant that consolidated its three regional dental practice-based research networks into one nationally coordinated effort. The consolidated initiative, renamed the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network is headquartered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Dentistry. UAB leads and oversees the six regional research sites of the network. Science Spotlight recently spoke with Gregg Gilbert D.D.S., M.B.A., the National Network Director and Chair of the UAB School of Dentistry’s Department of Clinical & Community Sciences, for an update on the network.  Read more...


The Oral Microbiome: From Bad Bugs to Bad Biofilm Behaviors
(November 2014)
Dr. Frias LopezCompelling metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data have begun to enter the periodontitis research literature.  Among the most fascinating is a paper published in the August 2014 issue of the ISME Journal by a team of researchers at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, MA.  The team compared the metagenomes and metatranscriptomes of several people with chronic periodontitis to those of healthy volunteers.  The results, though preliminary, provide a fascinating glimpse into progression. In a follow-up article, published in the August issue of the journal Infection and Immunity, the scientists found a needle in their many haystacks of data to generate a new lead in understanding how P. gingivalis can disrupt a healthy biofilm. The Science Spotlight recently spoke with Jorge Frias-Lopez, Ph.D., a microbial ecologist at Forsyth and a senior author on both papers. Read  more...


Welcome to the Academy
(May 2012)
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D.In February, three NIDCR grantees were elected to the American Academy of Engineering.  Science Spotlight plans over the coming weeks to interview all three scientists to hear their thoughts on receiving this high honor and learn more about the latest progress in tissue engineering. Our first stop is Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D. She is a professor of biomedical engineering and a professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York, where she serves as director of Columbia’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering and is the co-director of the Craniofacial Regeneration Center. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic also is an associate director of NIH's Resource Center for Tissue Engineering.   Read more...


New Target for Periodontal Disease
(April 2012)
George Hajishengallis, D.D.S., Ph.D.In a paper published on March 25 in Nature Immunology, a team of researchers reports on a potentially high-value new target in the fight against periodontal disease. The new lead is a glycoprotein called Del-1.  NIDCR grantees and colleagues show for the first time in the gingiva that a breakdown in Del-1’s normal regulatory control of the immune-signaling protein IL-17 can drive the onset of periodontitis, particularly in aging. Based on this finding, the authors propose that periodontitis may be best characterized as a disruption of homeostasis, which then allows infectious and inflammatory conditions to proceed on their destructive paths.  Read more....


The Exome Factor
(October 2011)
Jeffrey Myers, M.D., Ph.D.In the August 26 issue of the journal Science, a team of NIDCR-supported scientists provides one of the most comprehensive analyses yet of the genetic landscape that underlies head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, or HNSCC, the most common form of head and neck cancer.  The data help to pin down that HNSCC, although spoken in the singular, is actually plural.  The condition represents dozens of molecular conditions, each driven by a unique acquired pattern of cancer-causing gene alterations.  Interestingly, a companion study, also published in the August 26 issue of Science and partially NIH funded, reported similar results in HNSCC.  Taken together, the results suggest that the reclassification of these tumors based on their molecular characteristics is starting to come into technological reach as a key first step in establishing personalized medicine.   Read more...


Five Will Attend ATI Training Program
(June 2010)
Lisa Heaton, Ph.D. Five NIDCR-supported investigators will participate in the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) on Health Behavior Theory.  They offer their thoughts on the program, behavior theory, and its potential application to their research.  Read more...




Toward Better Resolution of Pain
(May 2010)
Charles Serhan, M.D.For the first time it has been demonstrated in mice that certain resolution-inducing molecules called resolvins are extremely potent in controlling various aspects of pain in the central and peripheral nervous systems.   The Inside Scoop recently spoke with Dr. Charles Serhan, director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.  Read more...



Temple University School of Dentistry: Empowering Communities

(November 2009) 
Amid I. Ismail, BDS, MPH, DrPH It may take a village to raise a child, but a growing number of researchers say it may take a systems approach to address long-standing inequalities in the nation's oral health.  One scientist who continues to give this issue a great deal of thought is Dr. Amid Ismail, dean of the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University in Philadelphia.   Read more...



ARRA:  Helping a Few to Teach the Many
(July 2009)
Ben DoolanDusty VincerARRA funds have provided summer employment for myriad students and teachers across America.  Find out how two high school science teachers are spending their summer vacations at Baylor College of Dentistry.  Read more...



 
Listening to Learn: Southeast Center for Research to Reduce Disparities in Oral Health
(June 2009)
Smiling African American manPublic awareness has been slow to extend to the head and neck cancers, including oral cancer, particularly among the low-income and underserved Americans that are most at risk.  To learn how to enhance awareness and save lives, the NIDCR began supporting the Southeast Center for Research to Reduce Disparities in Oral Health at the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry in Gainesville.  The Inside Scoop recently spoke with Dr. Henrietta Logan, the center’s principal investigator and a professor at the College of Dentistry, to find out more.  Read more...


CAN DO: Center to Address Disparities in Children's Oral Health
(May 2009)
Smiling 5-year-old boyIn 2001, the NIDCR began supporting the Center to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health at the University of California at San Francisco.  After seven productive years, the center recently received NIDCR support for another seven years.  Known by its acronym CAN DO, the center is one of three NIDCR-supported centers with a primary focus on early childhood caries, a serious form of tooth decay.  As CAN DO scientists often note, the lessons learned in California will be of benefit to public health programs throughout the country.  To tell us more, we spoke with Jane Weintraub, DDS, MPH, a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco and the center’s principal investigator and director.  Read more...


Disparities Research: Center for Native Oral Health Research
(April 2009)
Center for Native Oral Health Research logoMany fundamental aspects of American Indian and Native Alaskan health remain to be fully understood and systematically addressed.  Numbered prominently among them is oral health.  In late 2008, NIDCR began supporting a new oral health disparities center in Denver.  To hear more about this center in the making, The Inside Scoop spoke  to two of its primary investigators:  Judith E. N. Albino, Ph.D., Clinical Professor in the University of Colorado School of Public Health and the director and  principal investigator of the NIDCR-supported Center for Native Oral Health Research, and Spero M. Manson, Ph.D., who heads the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the University of Colorado School of Public Health and is a member of the Pembina Chippewa tribe.  He is the oral health center’s associate director.  Read more...


A Look at Oral Health Disparities in Appalachia
(March 2009)
Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia logoIn many parts of Appalachia, tooth decay remains an unfortunate rite of childhood that too often leads to a lifetime of poor oral health.  In West Virginia, population 1.8 million, dentists pulled an estimated 31,800 children’s teeth in 2006.  By age 65, about 40 percent of the state’s retirees have none of their natural teeth remaining.  Given the troubling scope and consequences of this largely preventable problem across Appalachia, researchers are now attempting to more clearly define the causes of poor oral health in the region and develop practical, low-cost solutions.  Prominent in this effort is the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA).  For an overview of this NIDCR-supported project, we recently spoke to Mary Marazita, Ph.D., a scientist at the University of Pittsburgh and co-principal investigator of COHRA.  Read more...


Evolutionary Biology:  Cichlids, Gene Networks, and Teeth
(February 2009)
A cichlidIn the journal PLOS Biology, NIDCR grantees report they have deduced a network of dental genes in fishes called cichlids that likely were involved in building the first tooth half a billion years ago.  The researchers say their finding introduces into the scientific literature a core evolutionary list of molecular pieces needed to make a tooth.  These original parts were then gradually rewired, replaced, or left in place to produce the various shapes and sizes of teeth now found in nature, from shark to mouse to monkey to human.  The Inside Scoop spoke with Todd Streelman, Ph.D., a scientist at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta and a senior author on the study, to learn more about his group’s discovery.  Read more...


Periodontal Disease: Engineering the Future of Care
(October 2008)
William Giannobile, DDS, DMScIn the 1950s, soon after NIDCR’s founding, millions of Americans often flipped on their black-and-white tube televisions and watched commercials that warned of a tongue-twisting condition called gingivitis. As the ads warned, gingivitis was step one on the road to chronic gum, or periodontal, disease and tooth loss. Read more...




Tooth Development
(October 2008)
Richard Maas, MD, PhDMalcolm Snead, DDS, PhDIs it possible to build a tooth? That’s a question that many giants of 20th century dental research no doubt considered, and it’s a conceptual puzzle that continues to capture the imaginations of the nation’s oral health scientists. But there is a key difference between the musings of then and now. Today’s scientists possess for the first time the needed laboratory tools to plumb the molecular depths and developmental biology of tooth formation, and some already have begun to do so in earnest. Read more...



Neural Crest Cells: The First Mystery of Craniofacial Development
(September 2008)
Neural crest cells In 1868, the Swiss embryologist Wilhelm His spotted a thin band of previously undetected cells bunched between fetal ectoderm and the inchoate neural tube of a developing chick. Dr. His called his find the Zwischenstrang, or “the intermediate cord.” By the end of the century, the German word Zwischenstrang had been scrapped for the more descriptive English term “neural crest cells,” denoting the geographic crest of the neural tube as their site of origin. The cells also had become a topic of controversy. Reports had begun to trickle into the scientific literature that neural crest cells in some fish gave rise to neurons and nerve fibers of the cranium, while those in certain salamanders were proposed to produce cartilage of the head and dentin forming cells of the teeth. Many biologists claimed this was preposterous. Read more...



Localized Aggressive Periodontitis: Pinning Down the Long Suspected Role of Aa
(February 2008)
Daniel Fine, DMDFor dentists who treat an occasional child with localized aggressive periodontitis, or LAP, the research points to the likely culprit as a bacterium with a long name, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa).  But the case remains far from air tight.  Absent from the scientific literature are clinical studies that track the natural history of the disease in children and whether Aa indeed plays a role in its onset and progression.  In the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, a team of NIDCR supported scientists offer the first results from a natural history study.  While a final verdict remains to be rendered, this study and a similar one in Morocco offer stronger evidence that Aa might just be a cause.  To learn more about this study, the Inside Scoop spoke with Dr. Daniel Fine, a scientist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark and the lead author on the JCM  paper. Read more...


TP53 and the Prognosis of Head and Neck Cancer
(January 2008)
Wayne Koch, MDIn the December 20, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of NIDCR grantees and colleagues evaluated the prognostic value of TP53 mutations in 420 head-and-neck cancer patients treated with surgery only and whose survival was tracked for several years thereafter.  Detecting TP53 alterations in the tumors of 53 percent of participants, the scientists found that collectively these mutations were associated with decreased overall survival.  This was particularly so for a subset of TP53 mutations that affected the ability of its protein to function as a transcription factor.   To hear more about this paper, the Inside Scoop spoke with Dr. Wayne Koch, the senior author on the paper and a scientist and head-and-neck cancer surgeon at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  Read more....



Scientists Discover Candidate Salivary Markers for Sjogren's Syndrome
(November 2007)
David Wong, DMD, DMScThree years ago, scientists supported by the NIDCR began taking the first full inventory of the proteins that normally are produced in our salivary glands.  Now, one of those scientists and his colleagues offer a first glimpse into how this new research tool can be applied to detect subtle changes in the protein content of a person’s saliva that may be linked to an oral or systemic disease.  As reported in the November issue of the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, the scientists detected 42 proteins and 16 peptides in saliva that clinically discriminated between people with the primary form of Sjőgren’s syndrome and healthy volunteers.  These data far surpass previous efforts to identify protein biomarkers for primary Sjőgren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune condition of the salivary and tear glands that affects about two million Americans, mainly women.  Read more...



Scientists Elucidate Function of Novel Protein Involved in Head and Neck Cancer
(September 2007)
Wendell G. Yarbrough, MDIn the September issue of the journal Cancer Cell, a team of NIDCR-supported scientists and their colleagues report on a novel protein called LZAP.  Discovered by the group in 2005, LZAP appears to be a new growth-inhibiting tumor suppressor gene.  In the latest paper, the scientists show that LZAP has biological activity that relates to tumor suppression, they define a biological function in the nucleus that correlates with that activity, and they move into clinical tumor samples to show that LZAP is frequently inactivated in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck.   Read more... 



A Closer Look at Developing a Lab on a Chip for Oral Cancer
(August 2007)
John McDevitt, Ph.D.Dr. John McDevitt, a scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of several NIDCR grantees currently developing a first generation of miniaturized, fully automated saliva-based diagnostic devices.  As part of the NIDCR grant, the McDevitt laboratory published in the August issue of the journal Lab on a Chip the results of proof-of-principle experiments for a rapid chip-based diagnostic test for oral cancer.  McDevitt spoke to the Inside Scoop about the device, its status, and future prospects.    Read more...




Periodontal Research: Pathways to Progress
(July 2007)
Salomon Amar, DDS, MS, PhDIn the June issue of the Journal of Proteome Research, a team of NIDCR supported scientists and colleagues take a closer look at how a monocyte senses live bacteria, LPS, or FimA.  The Inside Scoop spoke to the paper’s senior author, Dr. Salomon Amar, a scientist in the Department of Periodontology and Oral Biology at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine.  As Amar noted, his data mark a starting point in using comprehensive protein-profiling, or proteomic, approaches to map out signaling pathways in the monocyte and, hopefully, to identify new ways to control the destructive inflammation of chronic periodontitis.  Read more...



Bioadhesion: An Amino Acid Like No Other
(August 2006)
A musselRemarkably, mussels can adhere to surfaces wet and dry, organic and inorganic.  This all-purpose adhesiveness first intrigued scientists a few decades ago as one of nature’s best guides to design better dental and medical bioadhesives.  However, attempts to mimic mussels have been slowed by an inadequate understanding of the molecular underpinnings of their adhesion.  In a groundbreaking study published online this August in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NIDCR grantees and a colleague defined the adhesive qualities of a single amino acid that is prominent in mussel glue.  The Inside Scoop spoke to Dr. Phillip Messersmith, the senior author on the paper and a scientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, to hear his perspective.  Read more...



Building a Better Dental Composite
(August 2006)
Christopher Bowman, PhDJeffrey Stansbury, PhD
When placing a white composite filling into a decayed tooth, the devil is always in the polymerization process.  The Inside Scoop recently talked to materials scientists and NIDCR grantees, Drs. Christopher Bowman and Jeffrey Stansbury of the University of Colorado about their research and the ongoing quest for a shrink-proof dental composite.  Here’s what they had to say.  Read more...



Bringing the Promise of Molecular Medicine to Oral Cancer Screening
(March 2006)
Miriam Rosin, PhDIn 2005, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 29,370 new cases of oral and pharyngeal cancer were diagnosed, while an estimated 7,320 Americans died from these diseases. Recently, the Inside Scoop spoke with NIDCR grantee Dr. Miriam Rosin, a senior staff scientist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Canada.  She and her colleagues in British Columbia are now developing a novel, province-wide oral cancer screening program that integrates for the first time telltale molecular features of a developing tumor with more traditional cancer screening tools.  This project offers a glimpse of the much-touted promise of molecular medicine and serves as a template for future molecular-based cancer screening programs elsewhere in the world, including the United States. Read more...  


Let's Talk OPPERA: A New Study on TMJ Disorders
(January 2006)
William Maixner, DDS, PhDThe NIDCR announced recently the launch of a seven-year clinical study that could accelerate research on better pain-controlling treatments for a jaw condition called temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJDs).  Called Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment, or OPPERA, the $19.1 million project marks the first-ever large, prospective clinical study to identify risk factors that contribute to someone developing a TMJ disorder. A prospective study looks forward in time, tracking volunteers over several months or years to monitor the onset and natural course of a disease.  The Inside Scoop recently spoke with Dr. William Maixner, the study’s principal investigator and a scientist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, to hear more about the study, its design, and possible benefits to people with TMJD.  Read more...


Meet the 2005 Kreshover Lecturer: Dr. Charles Serhan
(September 2005) 
Charles Serhan, MDDr. Charles N. Serhan, the Simon Gelman Professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, will deliver the 2005 NIDCR Seymour J. Kreshover Lecture.  Dr. Serhan, an NIDCR grantee, will present a talk titled, "The Role of Novel Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Resolving Lipid Mediators in Oral Inflammation and Resolution."  In advance of the lecture, The Inside Scoop talked to Dr. Serhan about his career in science and ongoing research interests.  Read more... 


Building a Dental Practice-Based Research Network
(June 2005)
Dental Practice Based Research Network iconThe NIDCR last Spring awarded three seven-year grants, totaling $75 million, to establish "practice-based" research networks (PBRNs) that investigate with greater scientific rigor "everyday" issues in the delivery of oral healthcare.  The impetus behind the networks is the frequent lack of research data to guide treatment decisions in the dentist's office.  The Inside Scoop recently spoke with the principal investigators of these three grants to hear their thoughts on PBRNs, their organization, and how they will improve oral health.  Read more...



Dental Enamel: From Matrix to Microribbons
(May 2005)
Janet Moradian-Oldak, MSc, PhDMany dental researchers dream of one day stepping into the laboratory, putting out a detailed set of instructions, and engineering a replacement tooth.  This decades-old dream has gained momentum recently as scientists have identified more of the molecules that nature employs to make a tooth.  Yet, even as these molecular parts are identified, scientists must begin to solve the larger puzzles of how they self assemble to form the tooth's various specialized tissues, such as enamel and tooth.    Read more...



Chronic Periodontitis: Geographic Differences in the Oral Biofilm
(January 200Sigmund Socransky, DDS5)Anne Haffajee, BDS
It has long been assumed that all chronic periodontitis is the same no matter where one lives in the world.  But some scientists have wondered whether the bacterial composition of the oral biofilm - the sticky, mat-like microbial communities that form on our teeth and cause chronic periodontitis - might vary geographically.  In the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, NIDCR grantees and their colleagues report for the first time that this is indeed the case.  Read more...  



Pain Research: Past, Present, and Future

(October 2003)
Ronald Dubner, DDS, PhDDr. Ronald Dubner has a long and distinguished career in pain research. He is credited with establishing the first interdisciplinary pain research team at the NIDCR during the early 1970s, and his studies have helped to lay the groundwork for defining the anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and genetics of pain. Read more...





Scientists Report New Leads in the Surprising Evolutionary Biology of a Common Oral Pathogen
(June 2003)
Daniel Fine, DMDDental researchers often say studies of the mouth may have important implications in other parts of the body. If ever there was a case in point, it’s research on a common oral pathogen with the tongue-twisting name of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. Read more...





Craniofacial Research: Scientists Report New Lead in Craniofacial Development
(January 2003)
Jill Helms, DDS, PhDRichard Schneider, PhDIn the 1830s, when Charles Darwin first visited the remote Galapagos Islands, he noticed something striking. Of the dozen or so species of finch that inhabited the islands each seemed to occupy its own unique ecological niche. Darwin speculated that each finch must have evolved highly specialized beaks that gave them a survival advantage over other species within their habitats. "Darwin's finches" are one of the most cited examples of natural selection, a cornerstone concept in modern biology. Read more... 



Cleft Lip and Palate: Van der Woude Syndrome

(October 2002)
Jeff Murray, MDBrian Schutte, PhDAfter a nearly 20-year search, a team of scientists report in the October 2002 issue of Nature Genetics that it has discovered a gene involved in causing Van der Woude Syndrome, the most common form of syndromic cleft lip and palate. The Inside Scoop recently spoke with two authors on the paper: NIDCR grantees Jeff Murray, M.D., and Brian Schutte, Ph.D., both of whom are scientists in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa. They shared their thoughts on the difficulty in identifying the Van der Woude Syndrome gene, the possible scientific benefits of studying twins, and the implications of this gene discovery on the more common non syndromic cleft lip and palate. Read more...

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This page last updated: December 17, 2014