Summer 2016

NIDCR News
 
Janice Lee, Congressman Paul Gosar, NIDCR director Martha Somerman

Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Visits NIDCR

On May 23, Congressman Paul A. Gosar, DDS (R-AZ) visited NIDCR on the NIH campus in Bethesda to learn more about the Institute’s research activities, and he met with NIDCR Director Martha Somerman, DDS, PhD, and other leaders, including NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak, DDS, PhD, who is the former NIDCR Director (2000-2010). Dr. Gosar, who was a practicing dentist in Flagstaff before being elected to Congress in 2010, visited the Dental Clinic in Building 10 and two salivary gland research laboratories in Building 30. Shown in the photo (left to right) are NIDCR Clinical Director Dr. Janice Lee, Rep. Gosar, and Dr. Somerman.

 

NIDCR Advisory Council Meeting Focuses on Health Disparity Research

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD

At the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council meeting in May, Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, the director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, spoke about the “NIMHD Science Vision: Reducing Health Disparities as a National Priority.” He described NIMHD grants related to oral health, health disparity research priorities, and new research areas.

Later that morning, NIDCR offered a special session about the Institute’s oral health disparities research program. Jane Atkinson, DDS, chief of NIDCR’s Center for Clinical Research, spoke on behalf of the recently retired Ruth Nowjack-Raymer, PhD, MPH, who was the official overseeing this program since its inception in 2001.

“Most of my knowledge of oral health disparities came from Ruth Nowjack-Raymer, who is a champion for research to reduce health disparities in the United States,” said Dr. Atkinson.

After providing an overview about health disparities and a summary of research results, Dr. Atkinson asked four NIDCR-supported investigators to share descriptions of their research areas as participants in the NIDCR Oral Health Disparities and Inequities Research Consortium, which was initiated in 2015. The video of the presentations is accessible on the NIH videocast website. Dr. Pérez-Stable’s presentation begins at approximately 0:55 and the NIDCR health disparity presentations begin at about 1:43.

The next meeting of the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council will be on September 20, 2016. The public may attend in person or view the meeting remotely via NIH videocast.

Dental Clinic Expands

Two board-certified specialists looking at a tablet and discussing.

"We have brought board-certified specialists onto the team so that we can offer an enhanced capacity for clinical care and clinical research," said Clinical Director Dr. Janice Lee. In May, two NIH publications—the NIH Catalyst and the Clinical Center News—called attention to the expansion of clinical talent at the Dental Clinic. See “NIH Dental Clinic: Brace Yourself for Collaborations” and “Dental Clinic now has enhanced capacity for clinical care and research.”

NIDCR Director Appoints Chair and Vice-Chair of Committee for Diversity and Inclusion

Emily Harris and Deborah Philp

On June 7, NIDCR Director Martha Somerman announced that she appointed Emily Harris, PhD, MPH, chief of the Translational Genomics Research Branch in the Division of Extramural Research, as Chair and Deborah Philp, PhD, director of the Office of Education, as Vice-Chair of the NIDCR Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. The purpose of the committee is to advise the NIDCR Director and other senior leaders on a wide range of diversity and inclusion issues and to recommend and implement strategies for enhancing diversity at NIDCR.

 

Research Trainees Describe Their Career Trajectories

A group of research trainees meeting up in a meeting room.

Every year, recent college graduates compete for limited research training opportunities on the NIH campus. Three graduates who were selected by NIDCR senior investigators for research training recently shared stories about their projects and career paths, and the stories were published on the NIDCR website in May. Loretta Grey Cloud is studying the role of the mannose receptor in bone remodeling, Matthew Moore analyzed evidence of progenitor cell function in a floating salivary gland culture system, and Ellis Tibbs examined the role of the SOX10 transcription factor in salivary gland progenitor cells. Shown in the photo (left to right) are Ellis Tibbs, Matthew Moore, Office of Education Director Deborah Philp, PhD, Loretta Grey Cloud, and Postdoctoral Fellow Belinda Hauser, PhD.

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NIH/HHS News

Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act Includes Oral Health Screenings

Barack Obama

The Older Americans Act funds services such as health promotion, meals, job training, and transportation. In April, President Barack Obama signed a reauthorization of the Older Americans Act to continue to provide support to communities and families. As part of the health promotion and disease prevention services offered to older adults, oral health screenings will also be included now. Such services will be required to be part of an evidence-based program.

 

White House Announces National Microbiome Initiative

The White house

In May, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) to foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems. With the collaboration of scientists from NIH and other agencies, academia, and the private sector, the objective of the NMI is to advance understanding of microbiome behavior and enable protection and restoration of healthy microbiome function. The NMI will support interdisciplinary research and the development of platform technologies to share knowledge about microbiomes.

NIH Director Presents Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request to Congress

Francis S. Collins, MD, Phd.

In April, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, presented the budget request to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies. Research topics included the Precision Medicine Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, the Zika virus, the BRAIN Initiative, and prescription drug abuse.

NIH Appoints Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, to Lead the National Library of Medicine

Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD.

In May, NIH Director Francis Collins named Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, as director of the National Library of Medicine. Dr. Brennan is expected to come to NIH in August from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is the Lillian L. Moehlman Bascom Professor at the School of Nursing and College of Engineering. Currently, she leads the Living Environments Laboratory at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Dr. Brennan has been a pioneer in the development of information systems for patients.

 

 

Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program Updates

HHS Releases National Pain Strategy

A woman touching the side of her forehead with both hands

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a National Pain Strategy in March. The Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) published a National Pain Strategy to address the need for a population health-level strategy for pain. “Chronic pain is a significant public health problem, affecting millions of Americans and incurring significant economic costs to our society,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, Department of Health and Human Services acting assistant secretary for health. “This report identifies the key steps we can take to improve how we prevent, assess and treat pain in this country.”

The IPRCC is a federal advisory committee to enhance pain research efforts and promote collaboration across the government, with the ultimate goals of advancing the fundamental understanding of pain and improving pain-related treatment strategies.

Videos Available for 11th Annual NIH Pain Consortium Symposium

A woman watching a video

On May 31 and June 1, NIH hosted the 11th Annual NIH Pain Consortium Symposium on the NIH campus in Bethesda. David Clark, MD, PhD, of Stanford University and Rob Gereau, PhD, of Washington University, were the keynote speakers. Videos for day 1 and day 2 are available on the NIH videocast website​.

 

 

NIH Forms Blue Ribbon Panel for Cancer Moonshot

Blue Ribbon Panel

In April, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) selected a blue ribbon panel of scientific experts, cancer leaders, and patient advocates for Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. “To be successful, we must hear a broad range of perspectives to take full advantage of the exceptional current opportunities in cancer research,” said NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy, MD. The panel will serve as a working group of the presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) and will provide scientific guidance.

 

NCI Creates Data Commons for Sharing Genomic and Clinical Data

Multicolor graphic

In June, NCI launched a core component of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative—the Genomic Data Commons (GDC), a unified data system that promotes sharing of genomic and clinical data between researchers. Data in the GDC, representing thousands of cancer patients and tumors, will be harmonized using standardized software algorithms so that they are accessible and broadly useful to any cancer researcher.

 

 

NIH Creating Atlas of Malformation Syndromes in Diverse Populations

A doctor talking to a patient

In April, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) announced the availability of a resource called Atlas of Human Malformation Syndromes in Diverse Populations, which was created by an international group of clinical geneticists, dysmorphologists, and other medical specialists. “This atlas is long overdue and much needed,” said NHGRI Scientific Director Daniel Kastner, MD, PhD. “The impact of such a resource will be immediate and profound for all health care providers who are diagnosing and treating birth defects and genetic diseases in people of diverse ancestry.” When complete, the atlas will contain photos of physical traits of people from around the world, including Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, the only diagnostic atlas for health care providers featured photos of patients with northern European ancestry.

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Science Advances

Examining Usefulness of Bone Grafts in Patients with Fibrous Dysplasia

An NIH building

Because NIDCR clinician-scientists study and care for individuals with rare diseases at the NIH Clinical Center, they are often able to define evidence-based treatments for these conditions. Recently, NIDCR clinician-scientists Michael Collins, MD, and Alison Boyce, MD, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of bone grafts, a surgical method that may be used for people with a skeletal growth disorder known as fibrous dysplasia. The clinician-scientists found that the age of the patient influences whether performing a bone graft is helpful in the long run. Because the results of their study could aid surgeons who may care for children with this rare disorder, the Fibrous Dysplasia Foundation provides access to a PDF version of the journal article as part of their news release called “New Study Finds that Bone Grafts Are Likely to Resorb, Especially in Younger Patients.”​

Identifying Immune Cells in Gingiva

Immune cells in gingiva

For the first time, NIDCR scientists have used state-of-the-art methodologies to definitively characterize the immune cell network in gingiva (gums) of healthy people. The NIDCR team identified immune cell types and subtypes involved in defending the mouth from microbial invaders and maintaining health. They contrasted these findings with the immune cells associated with people with periodontal (gum) disease.

“Our work is important because it provides a detailed picture of what the immune cell landscape looks like at this important barrier site under normal circumstances—before aging, infection or other problems arise,” said Tenure Track Clinical Investigator Niki M. Moutsopoulos, DDS, PhD, chief of NIDCR’s Oral Immunity and Infection Unit​. “Knowing how these cells keep you healthy under ideal conditions sets the stage for our understanding of oral immunity and for being able to track changes that occur as disease begins and progresses. Ultimately, we expect to be able to use this information to identify novel drug targets and to develop new therapies for periodontitis and other diseases.”

In April, NIDCR published a Science News in Brief called “Local Cells Defend the Mouth: Identification of Immune Cells in Healthy Mouth Lays Groundwork for Understanding Disease.” In addition, the March/April issue of the NIH Catalyst, a publication about NIH intramural research, described Dr. Moutsopoulos’ research in an article called “Periodontitis: A Microbial-Driven Inflammatory Disease.”

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Last Reviewed on
February 2018