School of Dentistry awards announced

The following article has been reproduced with permission from the School of Dentistry’s Dental Bites newsletter. Congratulations to all three awardees!

The first awards have been made to School of Dentistry faculty through the newly-created Dean’s Fund for Research Support. Receiving $40,000 grants for research are Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of integrative biosciences, the team of Tom Hilton, D.M.D., M.S., alumni centennial professor of operative dentistry, and Jack Ferracane, Ph.D., professor and chair of restorative dentistry. The Dean’s Fund for Research Support is designed to stimulate research by providing funds for preliminary studies, bridge funding, and core costs.

“It was gratifying to see the level of scientific expertise in all of the applications for this first round of funding,” said Interim Dean Gary Chiodo, D.M.D. `78, F.A.C.D. “Funding these two projects is an excellent investment in the growth of our research mission.”

With their funding, Drs. Hilton and Ferracane will work with dentists in the OHSU Practice-based Research in Oral Health network to help characterize and correlate the entire three-dimensional crack pattern in extracted human teeth, and develop a crack classification system based on the results. Their work will ultimately help practitioners in diagnosing and treating cracked teeth, a significant problem in dentistry.

Dr. Balkowiec will use her funding to identify the molecule responsible for hampered growth of neurons that control the vital cardiorespiratory system.

“These data will become critical in competing for NIH funds to further characterize the factor, and establish its potential as a therapeutic target and/or biomarker for an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),” she said. “I am extremely grateful for this new funding opportunity, which is critical for projects like ours to become competitive at the national level. In the current funding climate, preliminary data are essential to the success of any application by enabling us to more quickly publish our newest discoveries.”