January 31, 2019

Dental students display their research prowess

Claire Mills

Claire Mills

Pre-doctoral and graduate dental students exhibited poster presentations of their research in diverse fields ranging from histology to oral biology to materials science at the School of Dentistry’s 24th annual Research Day on Monday.

Philip Walczak

Philip Walczak

Nousha Panahpour Eslami

Nousha Panahpour Eslami

Second-year student Claire Mills won first place in the pre-doctoral student competition for a project titled “Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronan Increases Human Periodontal Ligament Cell Motility,” mentored by Dr. Tracy Popowics. She will represent the school at the national Dentsply/Sirona Student Clinician Competition at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) in June.

Her classmate Philip Walczak took second place for research titled “Pilot Clinical Testing of a Fluorescence-Based Intraoral pH Measurement Device,” mentored by Dr. Eric Seibel and Dr. Ali Sadr. He will represent the school at the Dentsply/Sirona competition in 2020.

Another classmate, Nousha Panahpour Eslami, won third place for her project titled “Can Silver Diamine Fluoride and Glass Ionomer Remineralize Natural Dentin Caries?” She was mentored by Dr. Sadr.

Ana Chang, a PhD candidate in the Department of Oral Health Sciences, won the graduate student competition for her presentation titled “Toll-like-receptor-2 and -4 Responses Regulate Neutrophil Infiltration into the Junctional Epithelium.” She was mentored by Dr. Richard Darveau, and will receive free registration and travel funds for the 2019 AADR meeting.

Dr. Cecilia Giachelli, professor and chair of the UW Department of Bioengineering, kicked off the day with a keynote talk titled “Building Bridges,” exploring research collaborations between her department and the School of Dentistry.

Dr. Cecilia Giachelli

Dr. Cecilia Giachelli

She cited a significant clinical need for advanced methods of bone regeneration in dental and craniofacial practice, and discussed two particular collaborations. One centers on the use of fibrinogen, a protein in the blood that produces fibrin, another protein that forms a fibrous mesh that can serve as tissue scaffolding. This scaffolding can be infused with BMP (bone morphogenetic proteins), a bone regeneration agent.

Dr. Giachelli also discussed a research project involving bone cells known as osteoclasts, which absorb bone tissue during growth and healing. The UW is researching bioengineered osteoclasts to remedy a deficiency of these cells arising from a condition known as medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ). A side effect of drugs used in cancer treatment, MRONJ leads to progressive bone loss.

The UW researchers are still analyzing their results, Dr. Giachelli said, but the research so far is  promising.

Other speakers during the day’s morning session included:

  • Dwayne Arola, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who addressed “Aging of Teeth and Its Importance to Dental Practice.”
  • Douglas Ramsay, professor and chair of the Department of Oral Health Sciences, who discussed “Mouthguards and the Orthodontic Patient.”
  • Eric Seibel, research professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who spoke about “New Optical Dental Care – From Caries Prediction to Therapy Monitoring.”