November 18, 2021
Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, DDS, PhD, has been selected as the new deputy director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). An accomplished clinician, researcher, and leader, Dr. Webster-Cyriaque will join NIDCR in early December, after having served as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina’s schools of dentistry and medicine for 21 years.
“As a beneficiary of the NIDCR training pipeline, I have always been drawn to NIDCR’s mission, and to the tremendous impact I know the institute can have by translating scientific discoveries and reducing oral health disparities,” said Webster-Cyriaque. “As someone who has studied the nexus of oral health and infectious disease, NIDCR’s focus on understanding the oral health implications of COVID-19 leave me eager to play a role in the developing science around emerging infectious diseases.”
Dr. Webster-Cyriaque served as a tenured full professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) schools of dentistry and medicine, where she also served as the attending on clinical service at the UNC Hospital’s dental clinic. While there, she led research into a potential etiologic agent for salivary gland disease in patients living with HIV, assessed the oral microbiome and its implications for cancer-causing viruses, and studied the impact of the oral microbiome and oral health on HIV outcomes.
“As a dentist-scientist, educator, and passionate mentor, Dr. Webster-Cyriaque brings a wealth of expertise to our institute,” said NIDCR Director Dr. Rena D’Souza. “She is a natural leader whose talent and insights are matched by her impressive understanding of the science, and of the people and processes that make it possible.”
In addition to her research, Dr. Webster-Cyriaque has held leadership roles as the chair/vice chair of the Oral HIV/AIDS Research Alliance, as research director at the National Dental Association Foundation, as director of postdoctoral CTSA training, along with multiple roles within the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research and the International Association for Dental Research. Since 2004, she has led the UNC Malawi project and provided assistance in founding Malawi’s first dental school in 2019.
Dr. Webster-Cyriaque earned her PhD in microbiology/immunology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1998, her DDS from SUNY Buffalo in 1992, and her BA in biology and interdisciplinary social science from SUNY Buffalo in 1988.
As the largest oral health research funding organization in the world, NIDCR supports a broad portfolio of intramural and extramural research, into areas such as: cancer; the microbiome; immunology; HIV/AIDS; stem cells and regenerative medicine; genetics and rare diseases; behavioral and social health disparities; and COVID-19.