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Wide-ranging science highlighted during school's annual Research Day

Research Day at the Michigan League.

From left: Associate Dean for Research Dr. Russell Taichman, alumnus Dr. Mark Adams, keynote speaker Dr. Jeff Karp, Dean Laurie McCauley,  alumnus Dr. Christopher Gorecki and alumna Dr. Michele Tulak-Gorecki.

Oral Health Sciences PhD candidate Ligia Schmitd with faculty member and program director Vesa Kaartinen. 

Dental Hygiene faculty member Sheree Duff (left) and DH student Riitta Niemela.

From left: Dean Laurie McCauley, AADR SCADA winner Jonathan Oh, Joel Pluymert of award sponsor Dentsply Sirona, and Dr. Russell Taichman.

Michael Korleski

Yuan-Lynn Hsieh

Jad Majzoub

Ann Decker

DH award-winners Erin Strayhorn (second from left), Joy Morgan (center) and faculty member Stefanie VanDuine.

Xiaoxi Wei

Alexandra Oklejas (second from left) and faculty member Cristiane Squarize.

John Copley (second from left), husband of the late Jan Berry, helped present Jan's Prize to Jingwen Yang.

Hom-Lay Wang

Kimberly Smith

Ann Arbor, Mich., Feb. 21, 2019 -– The evidence-based conclusion about research at the School of Dentistry is that it is thriving, with a record number of poster presentations highlighting the school’s annual Research Day on Wednesday.

Dental and dental hygiene students, graduate students in various specialties, PhD candidates, postdocs, faculty, staff and visiting scholars combined to present 119 posters that filled the Michigan League ballroom and two additional rooms. Several hundred people attended the event, including exhibitors and sponsors from organizations and companies related to dentistry. Research awards were presented in several categories from undergraduate to PhD and postdoctoral fellows, and faculty and staff were honored for their contributions to the school’s research mission.

Dean Laurie McCauley, citing the record number of abstracts, thanked the participants for not only the presentations Wednesday, but also for the countless hours of research, data collection and collaboration required to develop their projects. “The range of the science is incredible,” she said. “From hedgehog signaling to mesenchymal progenitor cells, implant placement, 3D printing, the surveys of dental students. It’s just great science.”

Dr. Jeff Karp, a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., opened the event with a keynote presentation, “Towards Accelerated Medical Innovation.” Karp is a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an affiliate faculty member at the Broad Institute and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. He outlined his philosophies for ensuring a vibrant and successful research lab. Those include collaboration across interprofessional boundaries, trying to solve problems in new and unconventional ways, engaging with entrepreneurs who have experience in developing products and companies, and keeping a focus on translating science into solutions for many types of health problems.

At the awards ceremony at the end of the day, the results of judging by faculty members were announced by Dr. Russell Taichman, associate dean for research. He was closing his final Research Day before moving later this year to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he will be dean of the dental school. The awards this year included a new category for visiting scholars and a new “411 Interview” presentation by members of the local chapter of the American Association of Dental Research (AADR). The latter involves a four-minute presentation on a research topic based on one slide and followed by one question from judges.

The complete results of Research Day awards are posted on the Research Office website. Here is a summary of some of the top awards:

Jonathan Oh, a first-year dental student, won the AADR SCADA program, or Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application. His research – “Maresin 1 Accelerates Extraction Socket Wound Healing and Bone Fill  for Alveolar Ridge Preservation” – is mentored by faculty member Chin Wei (Jeff) Wang. Oh’s research focuses on the effect of maresin, a lipid mediator produced by marcrophages, on dental extraction wound healing. Oh will represent the school and present his research at the annual national conference of the AADR in 2020 in Washington, D.C. This award is sponsored by Dentsply Sirona, a dental supply company.

• Students pursuing DDS, Dental Hygiene, Master’s of Science or undergraduate degrees received School of Dentistry research awards in two categories. First place in Clinical, Population and Education Research was presented to Michael Korleski, a fourth-year Dental Hygiene student who is mentored by faculty member Stefanie VanDuine. His project: “Oral Health Knowledge and Oral Behaviors in Michigan’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.” First place for Basic Science and Translational Research was awarded to Yuan-Lynn Hsieh, an MS certificate student mentored by faculty member Fei Liu for the project, “The Effect of Tsc1 deletion by Col2a1-Cre on craniofacial skeletal development.”

• PhD candidates, post-doctorate, staff and faculty received School of Dentistry research awards in the same two categories. First place for Clinical, Population and Education Research was presented to Jad Majzoub, a post-doc mentored by faculty member Hom-Lay Wang for “Long-term Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes of Guided Tissue Regeneration and Predictors of Stability: A Retrospective Study in an Academic Setting.”  First place for Basic Science and Translational Research was awarded to Ann Decker, a PhD candidate mentored by faculty member Russell Taichman for “GAS6 Signaling Networks Regulate Bone Homeostasis and Potentiate Bone Regeneration.”

• Dental Hygiene research awards included first place in Original Research to Joy Morgan and Erin Strayhorn, mentored by faculty member Janet Kinney, for “The Relationship of Epigenetic Salivary Biomarkers (8-OHdG and DNMT-1) and Periodontitis.”

• First place in the new research award for Visiting Scholars was presented to Xiaoxi Wei, mentored by faculty member Fei Liu, for “The impact of Tsc1 Deletion in Nural Crest-derived Cells on Cranial Base Development.”

• First place in the new “411 Presentation” award through the local AADR chapter was won by Alexandra Oklejas, a DDS/PhD candidate mentored by faculty member Jacques Nör.

Other awards presented Wednesday were not tied to specific research projects. They include:

Jingwen Yang, a research fellow in the lab of Yuji Mishina in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences & Prosthodontics, received the Janice E. Berry Prize for Excellence in Research. The family of Berry, a longtime U-M and dental school staff member who died in 2016, created the $1,000 award, also known as Jan’s Prize, to recognize a full-time researcher who may be currently experiencing a financial hardship. The applicant must have demonstrated excellence in research, teaching, mentoring, service and leadership. Yang was nominated by eight people, including current students, past and present mentors and co-workers who said they felt fortunate to have worked with her.

Hom-Lay Wang, Collegiate Professor of Periodontology, Professor or Dentistry and Director of Graduate Periodontics, received the Distinguished Faculty Research Mentoring Award after being nominated by students and colleagues.  The annual award recognizes faculty who impart their research knowledge and experience with students and scholars in areas of clinical, basic science and-or translational research. Taichman noted that Wang has trained more than 100 graduate students from more than 20 countries, describing him as a tireless and compassionate mentor who can “inspire without lecturing and motivate without pushing.”

Kimberly Smith, Program Coordinator in the Research Office and OHS PhD Program, was named the winner of the Research Staff Recognition Award. Taichman said Smith has long been recognized as an advocate for students by mentoring them in many ways. He called Smith “a wizard at negotiating class schedules, knowing Rackham graduate school requirements and tracking awards and funds.”

Note: The American Association of Dental Research (AADR) Travel Award, usually announced on Research Day, has yet to be determined by the organization and will be announced at a later date.


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The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at dentistry.communications@umich.edu, or (734) 615-1971.