Apichai Yavirach, a PhD candidate in the Department of Oral Health Sciences, has been named the School of Dentistry’s 2021-22 Magnuson Scholar selectee. He is one of the six UW Health Sciences recipients of the scholarship, one of the UW’s top academic awards. One student is selected annually from each of the Health Sciences schools: Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work.
Dr. Yavirach received a DDS degree from Chiang Mai University in Thailand in 2015, after which he entered the university’s graduate prosthodontics program. At the UW, he has worked in the lab of Dr. Cecilia Giachelli of the Department of Bioengineering, studying bone biology and calcification.
“As a dentist, I’m interested in applying basic sciences research to clinical aspects,” he said. “Therefore, I have been working on the particular disease called medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ). This is a serious side effect of antiresorptive drugs prescribed to more than 10 million patients all around the world. However, the pathophysiology of MRONJ still remains elusive and there is currently no effective treatment, making this a growing clinical problem. With the engineered cells developed in our lab, I am able to study particular types of cells potentially playing a role in MRONJ. I strongly believe that these studies will give more insights to one of the biggest concerning questions in a dental field.”
Dr. Yavirach, who was a Fulbright Scholar in 2017-19, won the American Association for Dental Research Student Award at the School of Dentistry’s annual Research Day last year and also holds a scholarship in geriatric sciences for dental care from the Thai government. After he obtains his PhD, he plans to return to Thailand and resume teaching at Chiang Mai University. Along with teaching, he plans to continue working as a clinician while he pursues further studies on bone biology.
“I believe in the power of education,” he said. “It can bring people from different backgrounds together. It can translate what we learn from a lab bench to a global scale. Being a Magnuson Scholar supports my belief that together we can move our health sciences field forward.”
The scholarships, which commemorate U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, are funded from a $2 million endowment from the Warren G. Magnuson Institute for Biomedical Research and Health Professions Training. The late Sen. Magnuson was a strong supporter of biomedical research and he played key roles in creating Medicare, Medicaid, and the National Institutes of Health. The scholarship recipients are chosen for their academic performance and potential contributions to research in the health sciences.