Fall 2017

Image of Douglas Sheeley, ScD

Douglas Sheeley, ScD, Selected as NIDCR Deputy Director

Dr. Douglas Sheeley is the new deputy director of NIDCR as of October 15. Dr. Sheeley comes to NIDCR after having served as senior scientific officer and acting chief of the Biomedical Technology Branch at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, where he led programs to develop and expand access to new tools for a wide range of areas including proteomics, carbohydrate research, and modeling of infectious disease dynamics. Prior to NIGMS, Dr. Shee ley worked for 11 years (from 2000 to 2011) at NIH’s National Center for Research Resources, where he rose to a position as acting deputy director of the Division of Biomedical Technology. Before coming to NIH, Dr. Sheeley was a researcher at Glaxo Wellcome Research & Development. Dr. Sheeley earned his ScD in nutritional biochemistry from Harvard University School of Public Health and his BS in chemistry from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.


NIDCR 2030: Envisioning the Future, Together

NIDCR to Host Autotherapies Symposium

NIDCR will host a symposium titled “Autotherapies: Enhancing Our Innate Healing Capacity” on January 25, 2018 in the Lipsett Amphitheater (Building 10) on the NIH campus. This kick-off event was planned in response to ideas submitted in the “autotherapies” goal area of NIDCR 2030, the strategic visioning initiative for the future of NIDCR research. More information will soon be available about the symposium, which will be open to the public.


enlarged magnified image of head and neck cancer cells

NIDCR’s 2017 SOAR Awards Support Outstanding Mid-Career Investigators

NIDCR announced on October 4 that it has issued four awards totaling approximately $1 million each per year to support outstanding researchers in their pursuit of high-risk, high-reward projects with the possibility to profoundly enhance our understanding of dental, oral, and craniofacial diseases and conditions. The support will go to scientists who are investigating skeletal tissue regeneration, craniofacial malformations, head and neck cancer, and links between viral infections and oral inflammation.

The Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) awards provide up to eight years of grant support to allow mid-career investigators with outstanding records of productivity to have stable funding to pursue potentially transformative research programs.


NIH investigator looking into microscope

NIDCR Proposes New Initiatives for Fiscal Year 2019

Each year, NIDCR program staff present new research themes to the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council. Many of these proposed initiatives later become funding opportunities. In August, NIDCR asked the public for comments about nine research initiatives that have been proposed for FY 2019. One of these initiatives had been presented to the Council in January, and eight additional initiatives were presented to Council in September. The proposed research themes for FY 2019 are:

  • Advancing Our Understanding of Enamel Development
  • Basic and Translational Research on HIV and AIDS-Related Pathogens in the Oral Cavity
  • Bioinformatics/Data Science Jumpstart for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Diseases
  • Biological Factors Underlying Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Health Disparities
  • Biology of Aging in Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Tissues
  • Dental Practice-Based Research Networks
  • FaceBase 3 – Bioinformatics and Data Management Hub
  • Precision Imaging of Oral Lesions
  • Understanding Gene-Environment Interactions in Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Diseases

Learn more about the concept clearances for the initiatives, or access presentations on the NIH videocast of the January and September Council meetings.


Dr. Larry Tabak, Gary L. Roberts, DDS, and other ADA officials

Larry Tabak, DDS, PhD, Receives American Dental Association Presidential Citation

NIH Principal Deputy Director and former NIDCR Director Dr. Larry Tabak received a presidential citation award from ADA President Gary L. Roberts, DDS, during a July 31 visit to NIDCR by Dr. Roberts and other ADA officials. The award recognizes Dr. Tabak for his contributions to dentistry, including his work at NIH and NIDCR to improve interactions among dental and medical researchers and expanding NIDCR’s scope into areas such as genetics and dental materials.


Tissue chip

NIDCR Funds Salivary Gland Tissue Chip Project through NIH Program

On September 12, NIH announced awards totaling $15 million to support development of 3-D human tissue models as part of the Tissue Chips for Disease Modeling and Efficacy Testing initiative. This effort is led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in collaboration with other NIH institutes and centers, including NIDCR. NIDCR is funding a project at the University of Rochester to engineer miniaturized, 3-D human salivary gland tissue chips, with the aim of finding better ways to treat salivary gland loss-of-function due to head and neck cancer radiation therapy. NIDCR is also contributing funds to a project supported by several NIH institutes that will establish a multi-tissue platform containing five tissue chips—for heart, liver, skin, bone, and vasculature—to model a broad range of diseases, including those relevant to the NIDCR mission.


Christopher Johnston, PhD

2017 NIH Director’s High-Risk Research Awardees Include NIDCR-Supported Microbiologist

On October 5, NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program announced new funding to exceptionally creative scientists. The program, part of the NIH Common Fund, supports innovative approaches to tackle high-impact challenges in biomedical research. NIDCR will administer one of the awards: a grant to Christopher Johnston, PhD, of the Forsyth Institute, who is designing a rapid, robust system that will enable scientists to genetically engineer practically any type of bacteria that can be grown in the laboratory.


John Le

Dental Students Step Into Scientists' Shoes

For the past year, Jason Berglund and John Le have led lives more typical of postdoctoral researchers than third-year dental students. As participants in the competitive NIH Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP), Berglund and Le, along with 50 medical students from across the country, paused their traditional schooling for a year to live and work at NIH. It’s an opportunity to launch biomedical research projects and pursue scientific questions of interest. Berglund explored the origin of tumor-induced osteomalacia. Le worked to define how age affects bone’s ability to regenerate after injury. Students interested in participating in the 2018-2019 cycle of the MRSP may submit applications from October 1, 2017, through January 12, 2018. Learn more.


knee xray

NIDCR-Sponsored Researchers and Staff Participate in Bone Disease Workshop

On October 11, NIDCR-supported researchers and staff attended a workshop hosted by the Federal Working Group on Bone Diseases, an interagency committee focusing on bone disorders. The working group provides a forum for NIH institutes, federal agencies, and advocacy groups to share information and develop research collaborations. Jason Wan, PhD, of NIDCR’s Division of Extramural Research, presented on NIDCR’s mineralized tissue research portfolio. José Luis Millán, PhD, an NIDCR grantee at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, described his group’s research on the rare genetic disorder hypophosphatasia. Alison Boyce, MD, of NIDCR’s Division of Intramural Research, reported on the development of an international consortium for fibrous dysplasia and McCune-Albright syndrome. Tracy Hart, a patient advocate and member of the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council, described recent efforts of the Rare Bone Disease Alliance. Several of the speakers highlighted examples of multi-stakeholder collaborations, laying the conceptual foundation for additional future bone disease research partnerships.


NIH building

Job Openings

NIDCR has a new opening for a postdoctoral researcher to study ubiquitin-dependent regulation of stem cell maintenance and differentiation in normal and disease states. Learn about current NIDCR job opportunities by looking at the Job Openings section of NIDCR’s website and by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Back to top
Eric D. Hargan

Eric D. Hargan Designated Acting Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services

Eric D. Hargan was sworn into office as deputy secretary on October 6 and was appointed acting secretary of HHS on October 10 by President Donald J. Trump after the resignation of former HHS Secretary Thomas E. Price, MD, on September 29. Previously, Mr. Hargan was an attorney focused on transactions, health care regulations, and government relations. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Hargan served at HHS in a variety of capacities. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his JD from Columbia University Law School.


Jerome Adams, MD

Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, Named 20th US Surgeon General

On September 5, Vice President Mike Pence swore in the 20th US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome M. Adams. Dr. Adams, a board-certified anesthesiologist, served as Indiana State Health Commissioner from 2014 to 2017. Dr. Adams has bachelor’s degrees in both biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master’s of public health from the University of California at Berkeley, and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine.



Norman E. Sharpless, MD

Norman E. Sharpless, MD, Sworn in as Director of the National Cancer Institute

Dr. Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless took the oath of office October 17 to become the 15th director of the NCI. He succeeds Harold E. Varmus, MD, who stepped down as director in March 2015. Douglas R. Lowy, MD, has been NCI’s acting director since April 2015. Dr. Sharpless comes to NCI from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, where he served as director of the NCI-Designated Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and as the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research. After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Sharpless completed his internal medicine residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a hematology/oncology fellowship at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care, both of Harvard Medical School in Boston.


Pain Research Word Cluster

NIH Releases Federal Pain Research Strategy

On October 23, NIH issued the Federal Pain Research Strategy, a long-term strategic plan to advance the federal pain research agenda. An effort of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and the NIH Office of Pain Policy, the strategy identifies critical gaps in basic and clinical research on the symptoms and causes of pain and provides recommendations to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort across NIH and other federal agencies. The research priorities outlined in the plan are intended to guide research planning and support funding decisions for federal agencies and departments that support pain research.


Nobel prize

NIH Grantees Win 2017 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine and Chemistry

NIH announced on October 2 that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to NIH grantees Jeffrey C. Hall, PhD, of the University of Maine; Michael Rosbash, PhD, of Brandeis University; and Michael W. Young, PhD, of Rockefeller University, for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm. On October 4, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to NIH grantee Joachim Frank, PhD, of Columbia University, along with several collaborators, for the development of cryo-electron microscopy, which both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules.


Douglas Lowy, MD and John Schiller, PhD

NCI’s Douglas Lowy, MD, and John Schiller, PhD, Receive 2017 Lasker Award

On September 15, Drs. Douglas R. Lowy and John T. Schiller of NCI received the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for their research leading to the development of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. The award is the country’s most prestigious biomedical research prize. Dr. Lowy’s and Dr. Schiller’s collaborative work to understand and prevent HPV infection led to the approval of three preventive HPV vaccines by the US Food and Drug Administration.


NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, Testifies before Congress on Federal Response to the Opioid Crisis

Dr. Francis S. Collins, along with officials from FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, testified on the federal response to the opioid crisis before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on October 5. Dr. Collins described some of the steps taken by NIH to advance the goals of the HHS Opioid Strategy announced in April. These include research to better understand what makes an individual vulnerable to opioid misuse, development of new interventions to treat opioid addiction, and finding safe, non-addictive ways to manage pain.


Science words cluster

NIH Partners with Biopharmaceutical Companies to Speed Development of Cancer Immunotherapies

On October 12, NIH and 11 biopharmaceutical companies launched the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), a five-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million as part of the Cancer Moonshot. PACT will initially focus on efforts to identify, develop, and validate robust biomarkers—standardized biological markers of disease and treatment response—to advance new immunotherapy treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer. The partnership will be managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, with the FDA serving in an advisory role.


DNA & Genes grahic

NIH Completes Atlas of Human DNA Differences that Influence Gene Expression

As announced October 11, NIH-funded researchers completed a detailed atlas documenting the stretches of human DNA that influence gene expression—a mechanism by which a person’s genome gives rise to an observable trait like hair color or disease risk. This atlas is a critical resource for the scientific community interested in how individual genomic variation leads to biological differences—such as healthy and diseased states—across human tissues and cell types.


"First in Human" Documentary

“First in Human” Documentary Explores How the NIH Clinical Center Advances Medical Care

A three-part documentary on the NIH Clinical Center premiered August 10 on Discovery. “First in Human” offers a personal look at the successes and setbacks of clinical research. Over a yearlong period, film crews embedded in the NIH research hospital followed four patients who volunteered to participate in experimental treatments in the hopes of helping themselves or others. The series also follows NIH’s dedicated doctors and nurses who conduct research while caring for patients. More than 1,000 NIH staffers and 125 patients voluntarily participated in the production. Learn more at the Clinical Center’s “First in Human” website.


Microbiome research

NIH Hosts Workshop on Advances, Future Needs in Human Microbiome Research

An NIH-wide workshop, “The Human Microbiome: Emerging Themes at the Horizon of the 21st Century,” convened August 16-18 to share the latest research on the human microbiome, including how the microbiome may be manipulated to maintain or improve our health, and to evaluate what is needed to advance this field over the next decade. The workshop was organized by a planning committee of the trans-NIH Microbiome Working Group, which includes program staff from the 19 NIH institutes, centers, and offices that support human microbiome research through their extramural portfolios. The workshop closed with a joint agency panel that includes the seven other government agencies which support human microbiome research activities to discuss areas of common interest and possible collaboration.


All of Us Researcher Program

All of Us Research Program Announces First Community Partner Awards and Expands National Network

NIH announced its first four community partner awards that will help to build a national network of trusted leaders to motivate diverse communities to join the All of Us Research Program, part of the Precision Medicine Initiative. The awardees will receive a combined $1.7 million in fiscal year 2017, with future support planned pending the availability of funds. These awardees will help to raise awareness about the program among seniors, Hispanics and Latinos, African Americans, and the LGBTQ community. Additionally, three sets of health care provider organizations will extend the program’s geographic reach and add to a growing network charged with implementing the initiative. Combined, the new awardees will receive $13.8 million to enroll interested individuals, gather their health information, and help retain program participants through ongoing engagement efforts.


Doctors with patient

NIH Director Highlights Patient Safety Improvements at NIH Clinical Center

In an NIH-wide announcement July 31, Dr. Francis Collins acknowledged major achievements, or checkpoints, in the NIH Clinical Center’s continuous efforts to improve patient safety. A new framework for clinical quality and patient safety was developed to ensure rigorous surveillance for, and reporting of, patient safety events. As part of this effort, the Patient Safety, Clinical Practice, and Quality Committee was established, and is chaired by NIDCR Clinical Director Janice Lee, DDS, MD. The hospital implemented a new safety tracking system called STARS to report and track safety metrics. All NIH investigators and research staff have received thorough training to ensure full awareness and compliance with event reporting requirements. So far, NIH has invested about $50 million in improving patient safety. Learn more at the NIH Clinical Center Patient Safety and Clinical Quality Continuous Improvement webpage.


NIGMS Workshop

NIGMS Hosts Workshop on Better Practices for Communicating Science

On June 22, NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences hosted a roundtable workshop on avoiding hype in science communication. The event was organized by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and brought together a diverse group of science communicators: researchers, including those who study communications; academic and corporate communications officers; policy advisors; and journalists. Throughout the day, panelists described incentives for science communications, discussed challenges to communicating research advances, and offered recommendations for the full range of science communicators.


New NIH Website Provides Resources on Research Methods

NIH has a new website that provides resources on research methods related to experiments that randomize groups or clusters or that deliver interventions to groups. The information is relevant for human and animal studies and for basic and applied research. The website includes a calculator to estimate sample size requirements for group- or cluster-randomized trials.


Josie Briggs, MD

Josie Briggs, MD, Retires from Directorship of NCCIH

Dr. Josie Briggs retired on October 14 from the directorship of NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. She will become the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Dr. Briggs joined NIH in 1997 as director of the Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She left NIH briefly for a senior position at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute before returning to NIH to become the NCCIH director in 2008. David Shurtleff, PhD, past NCCIH deputy director, is serving as acting director.


James Ostell, PhD

James Ostell, PhD, Named Director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information

NIH announced September 11 that National Library of Medicine (NLM) Director Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, has appointed Dr. James Ostell as the director of the NCBI, a division of the NIH’s NLM. Dr. Ostell has been with NCBI since it was established by Congress in 1988, and he has helped shape it into one of the most widely used biomedical resources in the world. Dr. Ostell earned a PhD in molecular biology from Harvard University. Before joining NCBI, he developed commercial molecular biology software.

Back to top
Science Advances
Ophir Klein

Mid-Career Funding Helps Scientists Answer Big Questions

Scientists Gypsyamber D’Souza and Ophir Klein are established experts in their fields, having managed their own research groups for nearly a decade. Yet by 2015 they had reached the point in their careers when many scientists struggle to maintain dependable, continuous research funding. To support such exceptional scientists, NIDCR created the Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) award in 2015. The long-term grants (up to 8 years) are designed to propel early-established researchers along their career trajectories and support ambitious, long-term research programs that have extraordinary potential.

Dr. D'Souza

Drs. D’Souza and Klein were the first recipients of the NIDCR SOAR awards. Klein’s basic research on dental stem cells and D’Souza’s public health study of oral cancer each has the potential to significantly impact human health. Both say the SOAR funding has been transformative for their careers and in helping them answer important questions.





Medical Glue Inspired by Sticky Slug Mucus​

The slug known as Dusky Arion (Arion subfuscus) makes a natural glue that’s stretchy and strong enough to thwart predators that try to pluck it from surfaces. Inspired by the slug, an NIDCR-funded research team led by Harvard’s David J. Mooney, PhD, created a family of medical glues that could be sticky, strong, stretchy, and nontoxic. The new family of adhesive materials has the potential to be developed into a variety of medical products, such as an adhesive to glue medical devices to tissues, a stretchy patch to apply to tissue, or an injectable solution to repair deep injuries. Results were published on July 28, 2017, in Science.

Back to top Back to top
Funding Opportunities
Title Extramural Scientific Topics Opportunity number Expiration Date
Behavioral & Social Science
Career Development
Oral, Oropharyngeal & Salivary Gland Cancers
Oral, Oropharyngeal & Salivary Gland Cancers
Behavioral & Social Science
Behavioral & Social Science
Parent Announcements & Trans-NIH Announcements
PA 18-591
International Research Activities
Oral Immunology, Immunopathology & Immunotherapy
Salivary Biology & Dysfunction
Back to top Back to top
Last Reviewed on
February 2018