Summer 2018


JAMA Viewpoint Highlights Integrating Oral Health with Overall Health

Janice S. Lee and Martha J. Somerman

NIDCR Clinical Director Janice S. Lee, DDS, MD, MS, and NIDCR Director Martha J. Somerman, DDS, PhD, coauthored a JAMA Viewpoint titled “The Importance of Oral Health in Comprehensive Health Care,” published online on May 3. The Viewpoint links to NIDCR’s companion video The Concise Oral Exam, which demonstrates how a 5-minute oral exam can help physicians recognize poor oral health and detect clues to systemic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, HIV, and other conditions that can manifest in the head and neck region.


NIDCR Symposium Explores Promise of Autotherapies

Martha J. Somerman

NIDCR hosted a symposium, “Autotherapies: Enhancing Our Innate Healing Capacity,” to explore the potential of autotherapies—treatments based on the body’s natural ability to heal and protect itself. A panel of experts presented on topics including the use of small molecules to reprogram endogenous stem cells; response and resistance to cancer immunotherapy; use of biomaterials to re-engineer immune response; and clinical autotherapies to repair craniofacial abnormalities. After the presentations, NIDCR staff held a day-and-a-half-long workshop, where experts and staff discussed opportunities for future research directions.


NIDCR Announces New Postdoctoral Fellowship to Enhance Diversity

Postdoc researcher at NIDCR

NIDCR recently announced the NIDCR Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship to Enhance Diversity in Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research. NIDCR’s goal for this fellowship program is to achieve one or more of the many benefits that flow from a diverse scientific workforce. Postdoctoral students selected for this fully funded fellowship will spend up to five years working side by side with NIDCR’s leading scientists in an environment devoted to dental, oral, and craniofacial research. 


NIDCR Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Research Initiatives

Illustration of tooth

NIDCR invites you to submit comments or respond to existing comments on two new proposed research initiatives, NIDCR Mentoring Network for Underrepresented Postdoctoral and Early-Career Faculty Investigators and Accelerating the Advancement of Digital Dentistry. These proposed initiatives represent the second and third installments in the NIDCR 2030 series, and they build on earlier public input toward enhancing workforce diversity and advancing oral biodevices. The deadline for comments is Friday, June 29, 2018.

NIDCR Highlights Bacteria & Biosensors at USA Science Festival

Group of people at a science fest

NIDCR and other NIH components engaged with thousands of visitors at the 2018 USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo, held April 6 – 8 in Washington DC. Visitors to the NIDCR booth participated in an interactive, hands-on experiment led by NIDCR intramural scientist Peter Burbelo, PhD, to use a biosensor to measure bacterial contamination on model teeth. Attendees learned that bacteria are prevalent and can be removed from teeth with regular tooth brushing.

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NIH Pain Consortium Holds Annual Symposium


On May 31 and June 1, NIH held the 2018 NIH Pain Consortium Symposium, “From Science to Society: At the Intersection of Chronic Pain Management and the Opioid Crisis.” The event highlighted the latest work by NIH-supported pain researchers via presentations, panel sessions, and a poster session. The symposium addressed the following topics:

  • At the Intersection of Pain, Reward & Opioid Tolerance
  • The BRAIN Initiative: Harnessing Technology for Pain Research
  • Disparities in Clinical Pain Management

NIDCR Director Martha J. Somerman, DDS, PhD, provided closing remarks. Access the symposium webcast.


NIDA, NIDCR, and ADA Hold Meeting about Oral Health Practitioners and the Opioid Crisis

Meeting between NIDA, NIDCR, and ADA management

On March 28, Somerman, along with National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, MD; NIH Principal Deputy Director and former NIDCR Director Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD; and representatives of the American Dental Association (ADA), including ADA President Joseph P. Crowley, DDS, met to discuss ways oral health practitioners are addressing the opioid crisis, as well as opportunities for the future.


NIH Launches Initiative to Accelerate Scientific Solutions to Opioid Epidemic

NIH HEAL Initiative

NIH announced on April 4 the launch of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, a trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. NIH is nearly doubling funding for research to prevent addiction through enhanced pain management and improve treatments for opioid misuse disorder and addiction.


NIH Launches All of Us Research Program

Community gathering

On May 6, NIH officially launched the All of Us research program, an effort to create a community of one million people who will share their unique health data for research. The launch was kicked off at community events at seven sites across the nation, from Alabama to Washington state. Community leaders, NIH representatives, and NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, discussed how participants’ data will help researchers devise new ways of improving the health of all Americans.


NIH Director Testifies Before Congress on 2019 Budget Request

Collins and several NIH leaders provide testimony

Collins and several NIH leaders appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies on April 11 to discuss the Fiscal Year 2019 NIH budget request. Collins stated that the 2019 budget will consolidate HHS research functions, optimize available grant dollars to fund research, invest in NIH’s buildings and facilities, and support NIH priority areas including combatting the opioid epidemic, advancing precision medicine, and investing in translational research.


NIH Science of Behavior Change Featured in Special Issue of Journal

Science of Behavior Change logo

A special issue of Behaviour Research and Therapy featured the NIH Common Fund’s Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Program, with papers describing the SOBC mission and the work of its research teams. The SOBC program seeks to promote mechanisms-focused basic research on the initiation, personalization, and maintenance of behavior change for unhealthy behaviors that contribute to negative health outcomes and common diseases, including oral health problems. Melissa Riddle, PhD, chief of the NIDCR Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Branch, serves as a working group coordinator of the SOBC Program and co-authored one of the special issue papers describing the NIH program.


NIH Completes In-Depth Genomic Analysis of 33 Cancer Types

Cancer cells

NIH-funded researchers have completed a detailed genomic analysis, known as the PanCancer Atlas, on a data set of molecular and clinical information from over 10,000 tumors representing 33 types of cancer, including head and neck cancer. The PanCancer Atlas, published as a collection of 27 papers across a suite of Cell journals, summarizes work accomplished over the last decade by The Cancer Genome Atlas – a multi-institution collaboration initiated and supported by NIH. The analysis provides a wealth of information to advance scientists’ understanding of how, where, and why tumors arise in humans, to enable better-informed clinical trials and future treatments.


Director of NIH Center for Scientific Review Retires

Richard Nakamura

Richard Nakamura, PhD, retired in April from the directorship of the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) after a 39-year career at NIH. While a national search for a new director is conducted, Noni Byrnes, PhD, is serving as acting director. Byrnes has been acting deputy director at CSR since January 2018 and director of CSR’s Division of Basic and Integrative Biological Sciences since 2012.




Aiyelawo Named Chief Operating Officer of NIH Clinical Center

Navy Captain Pius Aiyelawo

U.S. Navy Captain Pius Aiyelawo (retired) was named as chief operating officer (COO) of the NIH Clinical Center on April 2. The role was recently expanded to include management of most clinical as well as administrative areas. He reports directly to Chief Executive Officer James K. Gilman, MD. Aiyelawo holds a bachelor of arts in management science from Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, and received a master of public administration from University of Alaska, Anchorage.


Redfield Appointed CDC Director

Robert Redfield

Robert Redfield, MD, was sworn in as CDC director on March 26. Redfield has worked in clinical research and clinical care of chronic human viral infections and infectious diseases, especially HIV, for more than 30 years. Prior to his CDC appointment, he cofounded the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology and served as the chief of Infectious Diseases and vice chair of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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Science Advances

The Science of Saliva

Image of Amylase cells

Salivary gland research conducted by Swati Pradhan-Bhatt, PhD, at the University of Delaware, Newark, and funded in part by NIDCR, was featured in the May 3 NIH Director’s Blog. Pradhan-Bhatt and colleagues found that salivary gland tissue contained previously unknown human stem/progenitor cells and that under the right conditions, they can produce all of the cell types needed to make a salivary gland, including the secretory acinar-like cells. The scientists developed a 3-D system to grow acinar cells from a parotid gland, encourage them to cluster, and even get some to secrete saliva. An image from the work was featured in the University of Delaware’s 2017 Art in Science exhibit.


How Molecules Mold Our Faces

many different shaped faces

A recent study, funded in part by NIDCR and published in Nature Genetics, revealed at least 15 genetic regions strongly linked to differences in face shape in healthy humans. A portion of the study’s data came from NIDCR’s FaceBase, an effort launched in 2009 to build a public repository of craniofacial data readily available to all scientists. The results will add to scientists’ understanding of the genes that guide normal development of the face, as well as how that process sometimes goes awry in the case of birth defects and malformations life cleft lip and palate.


Scientists Define Molecule’s Role in Itch & Pain Pathways

Image of sensory neurons

A research team led by NIDCR intramural researcher Mark Hoon, PhD, and Andrew Todd, PhD, at the University of Glasgow, UK, showed that somatostatin, a signaling molecule released by sensory neurons, plays a key role by enhancing itch and blunting pain in mice. The results, published online on March 19, 2018, in Nature Neuroscience, could have important implications for treatments related to itch and pain.

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Funding Opportunities
Title Extramural Scientific Topics Opportunity number Expiration Date
Periodontal Diseases
Mucosal Diseases
Oral, Oropharyngeal & Salivary Gland Cancers
Oral Microbiology & Metagenomics
Dental Caries
HIV/AIDS & Oral Health
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology & Data Science
Common Fund Programs
Gene Discovery, Genomics & Multi-Omics Analysis
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology & Data Science
Gene Discovery, Genomics & Multi-Omics Analysis
Craniofacial & Dental Development, Disorders
Oral, Oropharyngeal & Salivary Gland Cancers
Oral, Oropharyngeal & Salivary Gland Cancers
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Last Reviewed on
June 2018