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Health Center Today, November 12, 2010

Dean's Corner

Dental Faculty Secure Major Research Awards

By R. Lamont MacNeil, D.D.S., M.Dent.Sc., Dean, School of Dental Medicine

Research continues to be one of the cornerstones of our acclaimed School of Dental Medicine, along with a strong commitment to academic, clinical and community-outreach programs. I am pleased to announce that since July alone, our faculty has secured more than $7.5 million in major research awards. These are major scientific achievements, representing a diverse range of dental and public health issues.

Collaborative Approach to Study Oral Health Disparities

The National Institutes of Health awarded Drs. Susan Reisine, Jean Schensul and Ruth Goldblatt nearly $1 million to address oral health disparities among older lower-income and minority adults in central Connecticut. The approach is to build a much-needed collaborative infrastructure, to be known as the Oral Health Research Strategic Alliance, by:

  • focusing on increasing clinical and community-based geriatric oral health research,
  • improving access to clinical care, research studies, and advocacy organizations,
  • coordinating and organizing national, state and local secondary data sources and informational resources,
  • growing awareness of geriatric oral health, and
  • strengthening geriatric oral health curricula in the medical and dental school educational program.

Other Highlights

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration awarded Dr. Mina Mina $1.8 million for her work to expand and enhance the School of Dental Medicineís Residency Program in Pediatric Dentistry.s

Dr. Sunil Wadwha will use a $1.5 million NIH grant to study why women are more susceptible than men to disorders of the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.

A $240,000 NIH grant will support Dr. I-Ping Chenís research of craniometaphyseal dysplasia, a rare genetic bone disorder, using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells.

Last, but certainly not least. is the largest of these awards, a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Drs. Patricia Diaz, Anna Dongari-Bagtzoglou, Douglas Peterson and Linda Strasbaugh are studying oral mucositis, a painful and debilitating potential side effect of chemotherapy. Their focus is on the microorganisms that live in the mouth as they search for new preventive strategies that could improve the delivery of chemotherapy.

On a related note, Drs. Peterson and Rajesh Lalla recently gave a presentation on the the advances in mucositis research and clinical management. This was the latest in the series of Collaborative Clinical, Basic and Translational Research Forums at the Health Center, organized by Dr. Ellen Eisenberg.

In all, the continued scientific achievements of our dental school faculty are certainly worthy of our praise and recognition, and are a source of pride for the entire Health Center.

Thank you.