Busy month for School of Dentistry student researchers

Congratulations to all the dentistry students who were recognized for their outstanding research in March! The following article has been reproduced with permission from the School of Dentistry’s Dental Bites newsletter.

In early March, a dental student poster, presented at the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) national meeting in Minneapolis by third-year dental student Iraj Kasimi, won first place out of 20 posters nationwide. The poster, “Acidogenic Mutans Streptococci Strains Persist One Year Post-Caries RestorativeTherapy,” was developed in the lab of Curt Machida, Ph.D., professor of integrative biosciences and pediatric dentistry. Additional authors of the poster include fourth-year dental student Alex Vo; third-year dental students Amy Trevor and Jill Pollard; Elizabeth Palmer, D.M.D. ’08, Pediatric Dentistry, ’10; Student Lab Assistants Samyia Chaudhry and Guy Simmons; John Engle, D.D.S., assistant professor of pediatric dentistry; John Peterson, D.D.S., assistant professor of pediatric dentistry; Tom Maier, Ph.D., assistant professor of integrative biosciences and oral pathology; Tom Shearer, Ph.D., professor of integrative biosciences; and Dr. Machida.

“The posters were judged in a closed session including a 10-minute presentation/question and answer period,” said Iraj. “Then the poster session was opened to all the dental students and professors and vendors who were present. The award was announced at the House of Delegates where about 400 dental student delegates from around the country were present. It was a great experience.”

In a separate national competition, this one in late March, second-year dental students Tesha Grangaard, Noor Khaki, and Megan Willis received the Predoctoral Dental Student Merit Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Dentistry, from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, for their poster, “Comparative Study of Oral Health of Rural Children in the Khumbu Valley, Nepal.” Eli Schwarz, D.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., chair of community dentistry, also was an author on the poster. Tesha, Noor, and Megan received a cash award and will present their poster at the National Oral Health Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 30. They also received a plaque, membership in the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, and a subscription to the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.

“This study sought to discover if tourist towns along the route to Mt. Everest had higher incidence of caries than those towns that are located off the trekking route,” said the authors in their conclusion. “The study also used a previous study done 25 years earlier for comparison. There was a significant difference in caries rates [for the younger children 5-6 years of age] between the tourist towns and the non-tourist towns. It is interesting to note the significant decrease in caries rates in the 11 and 12 year old group when compared to the five and six year old group. As popularity for trekking in the Everest region continues to grow, so does the westernization of the area which brings both helpful influences, like fluoridated toothpaste, and destructive ones like soda and candy,” said the authors in their conclusion.

“It is apparent that there is an obvious need for dental care in the Everest region of Nepal. Currently, Nepal has one dental therapist for the entire Khumbu Valley. There are no roads or motorized vehicles in this area, so people have to walk up to five days to be able to receive dental treatment. The results from the research indicate that better access to dental care in this rural area could help improve the overall oral health of the region.”

Also in March, first-year dental student Margaret Campbell received an Oregon Clinical and Translational Research (OCTRI) award for her project, “Cariogenic Potential of Mutans Streptococci Genetic Strains: Association of Virulence Genes and Development of Carious Lesions,” receiving a $3,000 stipend for summer 2012 research in the lab of Dr. Machida.

Looking ahead, third-year dental student Kelly Sayre has been selected to attend the 48th Annual Dental Students’ Conference on Research April 15 to 17 in Gaithersburg, Md. The conference is sponsored by the ADA Foundation.