Dr. Philip Walczak, a first-year PhD candidate in the School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Health Sciences, has been named the school’s Magnuson Scholar for 2022-23.
Dr. Walczak, who received his DDS from the school in 2021, is enrolled in the school’s DDS-PhD academic track and practices general dentistry at the Community Health Center of Snohomish County in Everett, Wash. He is one of the seven Magnuson Scholars named by the University of Washington this year.
The $34,000 awards, among the largest given by the university, go to at least one student at each of the six Health Sciences schools. (A seventh award was added this year.) Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic performance and potential for research in the health sciences.
“I am extremely grateful for the generous support provided by the Magnuson Scholar Program,” Dr. Walczak said. “I have looked up to the Scholars since I was an undergraduate and I am honored to now be selected as one.”
Dr. Walczak’s PhD project is a study of the role that PiT-2, a phosphate transporter, plays in bone and tooth development. After completing this, he said, he hopes to continue his graduate work in endodontics and devote more study to oral biology and its application in saving teeth.
“My career goal is to increase understanding of biological processes of pulp regeneration, bone formation, and responses to biomaterials, ultimately hoping to translate scientific discoveries into clinical therapies that can benefit patients,” he said.
Dr. Walczak began making his mark in oral health research several years ago as a UW undergraduate. Working in the dental school’s prosthodontics program and the UW Department of Bioengineering, he studied a novel device to test the stability of dental implants. He also worked in the dental school’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, leading the pilot study of the first optical device to measure the acidity of dental plaque in humans.
His phosphate transporter studies have already won support from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the National Institutes of Health. NIDCR gave him a Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award grant to fund his pre-doctoral and PhD investigations.
The Magnuson Scholars program commemorates the late Sen. Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, a leading advocate of biomedical research who played a key role in establishing the National Institutes of Health, Medicare, and Medicaid.