Science, creativity, art, and the potential to reduce health disparities: that combination is why Matthew Moore has chosen dentistry to be his future career. Moore, who is now a first-year dental student at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, was a Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Awardee (postbac IRTA) at N?IDCR from 2014 to 2015.
While a research trainee, he worked in the laboratory of Matthew Hoffman, BDS, PhD, senior investigator and chief of NIDCRs Matrix and Morphogenesis Section. Dr. Hoffmans lab is identifying the cells, signals, and other factors that are essential for salivary gland development and regeneration. This work really appealed to Moore because of the potential for helping oral cancer patients whose glands have been destroyed during cancer treatment.
As a first-year dental student, Moore immediately applied the research experience that he gained at NIDCR in the East Carolina University (ECU) Research Scholars Program by designing and conducting his own study. Moore used immunohistochemistry techniques to screen antibodies among cancer samples for potential diagnostic application among oral cancer patients. His research poster on protein biomarkers of cancer subtypes earned him recognition, and Moore was selected to represent the school at the Hinman Student Research Symposium.
My previous lab and overall environment at NIDCR provided me the tools necessary to constantly grow as a researcher. Therefore, I am thankful for the opportunity and freedom to develop a research project at ECU, as it continues to serve as a platform for my growth as a dental scientist, said Moore.
From Morehouse College to NIDCR research lab
Moore majored in chemistry and minored in biology at Morehouse College. In 2011, while still an undergraduate, he met NIDCRs Education Director Deborah Philp, PhD, at a National Dental Association meeting. Dr. Philpwho helps candidates find NIDCR research labs that match their interests encouraged Moore to apply for a research training award.
He said that his biology background prepared him well for dissecting salivary glands and running PCRs (polymerase chain reactions) in the NIDCR research lab, and his chemistry background enabled him to embed cells into hydrogels.
Moores project at NIDCR was to study progenitor cell function in a floating culture system. He dissected salivary glands from mice and pigs, obtained cells for culture, and embedded the cultured cells into a hydrogel. After the hydrogel was implanted into a rat model, he looked for evidence of vascularization and salivary gland regeneration.
Dr. Hoffman exposed me directly to the discovery and impact of translational research, Moore said. And the opportunity made it possible for me to develop in these areas.
Moore said that Dr. Hoffman cultivates well rounded researchers by guiding trainees to ask novel and meaningful questions.
Combatting health disparities
If you look at Moores hands, you might detect stains from oil paints. In addition to being a biomedical researcher, first-year dental student, and former college varsity baseball player, hes a painter, photographer, and poet.
Moore said that in the same way that paint on a canvas is the medium for a masterpiece, dentistry is the medium he has chosen for his life masterpiece: reducing health disparities. Moore dreams of delivering care to underserved populations who wouldnt otherwise have access to care. He wants to do something that will make a big impact in the community, and he wants that impact to be sustainable.
Having a variety of mentors has helped, and continues to help, develop a clearer vision for my impact, through exposure and opportunity, said Moore.
While at NIH, Moore took part in the NIH Academy certificate program, which helps research trainees learn about health disparities.
Through classes and seminars, NIH Academy provided the foundational knowledge regarding the numerous gaps in health outcomes among various populations, Moore said. Engaging with other students in the Academy, from various backgrounds in healthcare, fed my passion to increase awareness about public health and improve the health of populations plagued by health disparities.
Moores Research Poster at NIH
Moore, M. Investigation of Progenitor Cell function in salisphere culture for potential use in cell-based salivary gland regeneration. Poster 183 presented April 30, 2015 at the NIH Postbac IRTA Poster Day in Bethesda, Maryland. Preceptors: Dr. Matthew Hoffman, Dr. Vaishali Patel.