Oral Opportunistic Pathogens and Viral Disease Program

Through the Oral Opportunistic Pathogens and Viral Disease Program, NIDCR supports basic and translational research on the role of fungi and viruses in oral disease. Topics include examining mechanisms of pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral fungal and viral infections, as well as research on emerging viral diseases, including SARS-CoV-2.

NIDCR encourages research on the molecular mechanisms that underlie viral pathogenicity and viral interactions with oral cells and tissues caused by viruses including, but not limited to the following oral pathogens:, Epstein Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human papillomavirus (HPV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Additionally, research is encouraged on the mechanism of pathogenesis of Candida species including inter-kingdom microbial interactions. Research is needed on characterizing host factors and the underlying immune, molecular and cellular mechanisms for the elimination of opportunistic pathogens in oral reservoirs.

The Institute supports research on early detection, of oral fungal and viral opportunistic pathogens as well as the development of novel strategies for treating and preventing infection. Further research to identify the molecular and cellular basis for inhibition of oral opportunistic infections by factors expressed in saliva and oral mucosal tissues is encouraged. Studies to determine the mechanisms of action of these factors and to model biologically active peptide regions within the pathogens are supported.

NIDCR supports basic research to better understand emerging viruses that cause diseases of public health concern. The oral/nasal route serves as point of entry into the host for many viruses and thus plays a pivotal role in viral, onset, spread and progression. As such, limiting viral infectivity, replication, shedding, and load at the point of entry is crucial. NIDCR encourages research that will provide the foundation for developing products and strategies to diagnose, treat, and prevent emerging viral diseases, such as SARS-CoV-2.