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Department of Oral Health Sciences

Faculty Research Areas

Oral Health Sciences is concerned with the nature of the oral and craniofacial tissues and with the application of basic scientific knowledge to oral health and disease. The courses and research programs in the Graduate Program in Oral Health Sciences deal with the origin, growth and development, structure, and functions of oral tissues, as well as with the etiology and pathogenesis of oral diseases and malfunctions. By its nature, oral biology overlaps with both clinical dental sciences and basic medical sciences.

Research conducted by faculty in the UW Department of Oral Health Sciences and other basic science departments has direct ties with Dentistry and advances in dental research that keep the dental profession strong. In addition, the mouth is the entrance to the body and many aspects of systemic health are reflected in oral health. Our research contributes to our nation’s need for knowledge to develop better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral diseases that affect us all, from infancy to old age.

Biology of Aging

  • Fritzie Arce-McShane – Neuromechanical changes in oral sensorimotor behavior in healthy vs. pathological aging, association between oral health and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Jonathan An – Geroscience, aging biology, anti-aging interventions, oral biology, oral healthspan

Cancer Biology and Virology

  • Robert Cornell – Genetic underpinnings of orofacial cleft; transcriptional regulatory networks governing cellular differentiation of superficial epithelia and melanocytes
  • Bruce Clurman – Cell cycle regulators, especially cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases, and their role in cancer initiation and progression. Identification of novel cancer-associated genes that might represent new targets for chemotherapy.
  • Masaoki Kawasumi – Mammalian DNA repair and cancer
  • Paul Nghiem – Skin cancer biology, Merkel cell carcinoma

Community, Public Health and Health Services Research

  • Donald Chi – Dentistry and public health, Medicaid dental program, dental care utilization for children with special health care needs, multi-level statistical modeling
  • Trilby Coolidge –  Decision-making, behavior change, and psychometrics
  • David Grembowski – Design and performance of health care systems, prevention, and technology diffusion
  • Philippe Hujoel – Nutrition with a focus on low carbohydrate diets, harmful effects of diagnostic radiation and evidence-based methodology and applications
  • Brian Leroux – Statistical methods for correlated data with applications to dental research and other fields
  • Lloyd Mancl – Statistical methods for dental research with an emphasis on longitudinal and correlated data and applied research on caries, temporomandibular disorders, and periodontal disease
  • Christy McKinney – Oral clefts, maternal nutrition, infant feeding, and global health

Dental Hygiene Training and Research

  • C. Michele Lloid – Oral Care of post bone marrow transplant patients
  • Marilynn Rothen – Dental caries management and risk assessment; treatment of patients with dental fear

Microbe-Host Interactions and Immunology

Orofacial Development, Structure and Function

  • Fritzie Arce-McShane – Role of orofacial sensorimotor cortex, principles of cortical and biomechanical control of oral sensorimotor functions
  • Peter Byers – Molecular genetics of collagen disorders
  • Robert Cornell – Genetic underpinnings of orofacial cleft; transcriptional regulatory networks governing cellular differentiation of superficial epithelia and melanocytes
  • Michael Cunningham – Pathogenesis of human malformation syndromes
  • Zi-Jun Liu – Biology of craniofacial skeleton and tooth movement
  • Tracy Popowics – Craniofacial structure and function


  • Fritzie Arce-McShane – Cortical representation of oral somatosensation (lingual touch and proprioception)
  • Susan Coldwell – Development and physiological influences on taste preference and perception. Psychophysical measurement of pain, anxiety, and taste.
  • Mark Drangsholt – Orofacial pain
  • Douglas Ramsay – Mechanisms of drug tolerance
  • Cameron Randall – Behavioral dentistry, pain, dental fear and anxiety, health behavior, provider’s implementation of evidence-based practice, workforce wellness

Pharmacology and Drug Metabolism

Salivary Gland Biology and Salivary Diagnostics

  • Paul Yager – Salivary diagnostics based on microfluidics

Stem Cell Biology, Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering