Winter 2018


CDC and NIDCR Solicit Stakeholder Input on New Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health 

US Public Health Service Seal

NIDCR is the main federal organization working with Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams MD, MPH, to produce a new report on oral health. On November 26 and 27, 2018, CDC’s Division of Oral Health hosted a listening session to identify and discuss significant oral health-related topics that will inform the upcoming report. A video of the meeting will be available soon on the HHS YouTube channel. On January 10, 2019, NIDCR will offer a webinar outlining the Institute’s process for developing the new report. During a subsequent two-week public comment period, interested individuals can share ideas for the report.


NIDCR Staff Co-Author Autotherapies Overview 


In an opinion piece published in Trends in Molecular Medicine, NIDCR staff outline recent scientific advances that enable development of new autotherapiestreatments based on the body’s innate ability to heal and protect itself. Autotherapies represent a minimally invasive approach to enhance tissue healing. Advancing the development of autotherapies in the dental, oral, and craniofacial region is one of the five themes of the NIDCR 2030 strategic initiative to envision the future of NIDCR research.


Nature Commentary Seeks to Clarify Stem Cell Confusion

Stem Cells in test tube

A Nature commentary coauthored by Pamela Robey, PhD, an investigator in NIDCR’s Division of Intramural Research, suggests that a coordinated scientific effort is needed to improve understanding of the cells often referred to as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The authors cite evidence that cells identified using the umbrella term MSCs may include a variety of tissue-specific cell types, a finding that has implications for current and future medical interventions using MSCs. The authors propose that the scientific community use more precise language and employ standardized, rigorous assays to define the identity and function of these varied cell types.


New NCCIH Director To Join NIDCR’s Intramural Research Team 

Helene Langevin M.D.

On November 26, Helene M. Langevin, MD, CM, was sworn in as director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Langevin comes to NIH from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, jointly based at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. She has served as director of the Osher Center and professor-in-residence of medicine at Harvard Medical School since 2012. She will have a laboratory in NIDCR’s Division of Intramural Research, where her research will focus on the role of connective tissue in chronic pain, inflammation, and cancer. 


Bringing a Diversity of Perspectives to NIDCR Science

Jason Collins

In September, biochemist Jason Collins, PhD, became the first recipient of the NIDCR Director’s Postdoctoral Fellowship to Enhance Diversity in Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research. The award will enable Collins to work for up to five years in the Stem Cell Biochemistry lab of Achim Werner, PhD. Collins will draw on his expertise in ribosomes to understand cell processes that go awry during development to cause craniofacial malformations. NIDCR seeks applicants for this fully funded fellowship, which aims to prepare a diverse pool of postdoctoral scholars for the rigors of working in the dental, oral, and craniofacial research field.

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NIH Director’s Statement on Sexual Harassment in Science

Scientist looking into microsocope

A recent National Academies report, funded by NIH and other government agencies, found no evidence that current policies have reduced sexual harassment in academic sciences, engineering, and medicine. In response, on September 17 NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, issued a statement outlining steps NIH will take to address the issue. He touched on new initiatives to strengthen NIH intramural systems for employees to address, report, and prevent sexual harassment, as well as efforts to harmonize policies across the government. The same day, NIH launched a new anti-sexual harassment website that outlines NIH policies, practices, and initiatives to address sexual harassment at NIH, at NIH-supported institutions, and anywhere NIH research activities occur.


NIH Selects First Scholars in Diversity-Enhancing Program 

Group photo with Dr. Collins

NIH announced on October 23 that 13 researchers have been selected for the inaugural class of the NIH Distinguished Scholars Program (DSP). The NIH-wide pilot program is designed to build diversity within the NIH Intramural Research Program by facilitating hiring and career progression of tenure-track investigators who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce. Scholars receive four years of research support of up to $2.35 million from the DSP program, with their nominating institute or center continuing to fund their research throughout their tenure track appointment. 


NIH Director Provides Update on HEAL Initiative

NIH Heal Initiative Word Cloud

NIH announced in April 2018 the launch of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative, a trans-NIH effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid crisis. Since then, NIH has announced the Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures Program to understand the origins of chronic pain; awarded new research grants to study the impact of behavioral interventions for preventing opioid use disorder; and issued funding opportunities to validate new targets for pain treatment, identify biomarkers for pain, develop a network to evaluate medications in early-phase clinical trials, and launch the HEALing Communities study to test the effect of integrating interventions for opioid use disorder.


Supplemental Awards Boost Funding for Down Syndrome Research

Young woman holding child's hand

NIH awarded $22.2 million in supplemental funding to bolster support for Down syndrome research ranging from basic to clinical. The investment is part of the INCLUDE (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down SyndromE) project, which was launched in June 2018 to investigate critical health and quality-of-life needs for individuals with Down syndrome. With these additional awards, NIH funding for Down syndrome research will total an estimated $59 million in fiscal year (FY) 2018, with further support anticipated in FY2019, pending availability of funds.


All of Us Genome Centers to Accelerate Precision Medicine

Double Helix DNA

The All of Us Research Program awarded funds totaling $28.6 million to establish three genome centers around the country. These centers will begin to generate genomic data from biological samples contributed by the program’s participants. Ultimately, this information will become a critical component in the program’s precision medicine research platform, a national resource to support studies on a variety of important health questions.

NIH to Build Detailed Map of Cells within the Human Body

Human hubmap

The Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP), part of the NIH Common Fund, issued its first set of research funding awards to develop an open, global framework that will support scientists’ efforts to map the adult human body at the level of individual cells and make data available to the research community for further study. The ability to detect subtle changes in the activity of individual cells and their interactions with other cells within tissues could help signal the emergence of disease before symptoms are clinically detectable. The HuBMAP awards total $54 million over the next four years, pending available funds.


Amazon Web Services Joins NIH’s STRIDES Initiative 

Graphic of computer screens and code

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has joined the NIH Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative, which aims to harness the power of commercial cloud computing for NIH biomedical researchers. NIH’s initial efforts will focus on making high-value data sets more accessible to scientists and seeking ways to optimize technology-intensive research. The agreement with AWS will help NIH researchers, as well as scientists at more than 2,500 NIH-supported academic institutions across the nation, make use of AWS’s wide range of technologies.

NINR Director Grady Retires

Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN

On August 31, Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, retired as director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), a position she held for more than 23 years. Grady was a major contributor to trans-NIH initiatives, including NIDCR-supported efforts. Ann K. Cashion, PhD, RN, FAAN, is serving as acting director of NINR while a national search is conducted for a new director.


Tromberg Selected to Lead NIBIB

Bruce J. Tromberg, PhD

NIH announced in September that Bruce J. Tromberg, PhD, will be the next director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). A leader in the field of biophotonics, Tromberg is currently a professor at the University of California at Irvine, with dual appointments in the departments of biomedical engineering and surgery. He is expected to join NIH in the new year.

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Science Advances

The Quest to Understand Dental Stem Cells

Dental stem cells

More than 15 years ago, NIDCR researchers discovered that human baby teeth and wisdom teeth contain stem cells. The finding raised hopes that these readily accessible cells might revolutionize repair of teeth and oral tissues and possibly lead to therapies beyond the oral region. But the complex biology of dental stem cells made it challenging to move from animal models to human patients. NIDCR supports research to address these challenges, including basic studies to better identify and isolate these cells and translational studies to test their ability to repair bone and teeth.


Immune Culprits Linked to Inflammation & Bone Loss in Gum Disease


An abnormal population of microbes in the mouth triggers specialized immune cells that inflame and destroy tissues, leading to the type of bone loss associated with a severe form of periodontal disease, according to a new study in mice and humans. The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, could have implications for new treatment approaches for the condition. The research was led by scientists from NIDCR and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. 


Halloween Fly-Through of a Mouse Skull

3D mouse skull

In time for Halloween, the NIH Director’s Blog featured a spooky 3-D animation that allows viewers to “fly” through a mouse skull reconstructed from digital scans of individual skull and facial bones. NIDCR-supported researchers produced the video as part of NIDCR’s FaceBase Consortium, an effort to generate genomic and biological datasets on craniofacial bone development to better understand facial or skull malformations. 


Human Skeletal Stem Cell Identified

Closeup view of skeletal stem cells

Recent studies in mice identified skeletal stem cells that can give rise to bone, cartilage, and supportive tissue called stromal tissue but not fat, muscle, and other cells. By labeling and tracking a group of similar cells in humans, an NIDCR-supported team led by researchers at Stanford University identified a subpopulation of human skeletal stem cells that give rise to bone, cartilage, and stroma. The scientists also created a detailed lineage map of how the stem cells turn into human skeletal tissues. Results were published in Cell.


Gene Makes Gentle Touch Feel Painful After Injury

Thermal view of hand injury

In a study of four patients with a rare genetic disorder, NIH researchers found that PIEZO2, a gene previously shown to control our sense of gentle touch, may also be responsible for tactile allodynia: the skin’s reaction to injury that makes normally gentle touches feel painful. This and a second study, funded in part by NIDCR, examined the gene’s possible role in the mouse nervous system’s reaction to injury and inflammation, making PIEZO2 a target for developing precise treatments for relieving the pain caused by cuts, burns, and other skin injuries. Both studies were published in Science Translational Medicine.

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Funding Opportunities
Title Extramural Scientific Topics Opportunity number Expiration Date
Career Development
Training & Fellowships
Small Business (SBIR/STTR)
Dental Materials & Biomaterials
Dental Materials & Biomaterials
National Dental Practice-Based Research Network
Career Development
Training & Fellowships
Behavioral & Social Science
Clinical Research & Clinical Trials
Oral Health Disparities & Inequities
HIV/AIDS & Oral Health
Clinical Research & Clinical Trials
Parent Announcements & Trans-NIH Announcements
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Parent Announcements & Trans-NIH Announcements
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Parent Announcements & Trans-NIH Announcements
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Parent Announcements & Trans-NIH Announcements
Behavioral & Social Science
Bioinformatics, Computational Biology & Data Science
Career Development
Clinical Research & Clinical Trials
Common Fund Programs
Conferences & Meetings
Craniofacial & Dental Development, Disorders
Craniofacial Skeletal Biology & Pathobiology
Dental Caries
Dental Materials & Biomaterials
Dissemination & Implementation Science
Fluoride & Fluorosis
Gene Discovery, Genomics & Multi-Omics Analysis
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Behavioral & Social Science
Clinical Research & Clinical Trials
Craniofacial & Dental Development, Disorders
Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine
Parent Announcements & Trans-NIH Announcements
Behavioral & Social Science
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Behavioral & Social Science
Orofacial Pain, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Neurobiology
Oral, Oropharyngeal & Salivary Gland Cancers
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Last Reviewed on
December 2018