Oral Health Alliance strengthens efforts between Eastman Dental Center

January 13, 2006

A new Oral Health Alliance has been officially established between the University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center (EDC), and Faculty of Dentistry of Piracicaba (FOP), University of Campinas (UNICAMP) to promote innovative research ideas and cooperation on scientific projects. The Alliance is the result of an intensive collaboration between scientists from these two renowned institutions that began in 1995 and has resulted in over 25 scientific papers, two pending patent applications, and other cooperative ventures.

 “The vision of the alliance is to have two-way communication so that EDC and FOP faculty members can collaborate on translational science proposals and encourage research that will benefit underserved populations on a global basis,” said Cyril Meyerowitz, DDS, MS, professor and chair of Eastman Department of Dentistry and director of Eastman Dental Center. “Although there are some differences, our countries share the same dilemma; providing oral health care for the underserved. Until we can accomplish that, we will continue to see overall health costs soar and children and adults live their days in pain and suffer from the complications associated with poor oral hygiene.”

Ten years ago, Jaime A. Cury, DDS, MSc, PhD, spent three months at EDC researching analytical methodologies applied to cariology. He returned home with positive impressions and a desire to continue the collaborative work and he shared information about EDC’s innovative ideas about postdoctoral programs, research, and patient care.

The initial relationship between EDC and FOP began in the late 80s when Dr. Cury met William H. Bowen, BDS, PhD, a world-renowned scientist, and several oral health researchers who were involved in similar types of investigations. Dr. Bowen is the Welcher Professor Emeritus of Dentistry, Center for Oral Biology (COB), and professor emeritus of the departments of Microbiology & Immunology and of Environmental Medicine.

Dr. Bowen was essential in the establishment of the alliance at that time by making his laboratory available to numerous FOP researchers and students, including Hyun (Michel) Koo, DDS, MSc, PhD. There was a mutual interest in gaining additional scientific training and collaborative research. Since then, a number of FOP scientists and students have visited the research laboratories at EDC and COB.

Dr. Koo, who was mentored by Dr. Cury, joined the Eastman Department of Dentistry faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor at the EDC’s Laboratory of Applied Oral Microbiology. Once student and mentor, Drs. Koo and Cury are once again collaborating on ways to understand and prevent dental diseases. Dr. Koo, who was instrumental in working on the alliance said, “It is a privilege to have one of the most preeminent scholars and researchers in the field of oral diseases with us. Dr. Cury was a pioneer of this relationship at the beginning and he is now the first visiting professor under our newly established alliance. The exchange of information and expertise over the past ten years has provided us with excellent research productivity. This has contributed to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of dental diseases, with an emphasis on dental caries, and new ways to prevent them.”

Dr. Cury arrived at EDC the beginning of August and will return to Brazil in April, 2006. His trip in 1995 was supported by CNPq, the federal council that supports research in Brazil. His current visit is funded by CAPES, the Brazilian agency responsible for graduate programs. Dr. Cury said, “There are only a handful of professors and students who receive funding to develop research studies in EDC and other international facilities. Among the criteria of selection, the excellence of the center abroad, the research project and the CV of the researchers involved are considered and I am fortunate to be able to take part in this program.”

Dr. Cury is professor and head of biochemistry and cariology at FOP-UNICAMP. He has published over 100 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, written seven book chapters, and is the 2005-2006 president of IADR’s Cariology Group. His students have won IADR’s Research in Prevention Award in the Latin America-Mexico Division competition five times and the Brazilian IADR Hatton competition on three occasions.

From 1989 to the present, Dr. Cury has served on the Scientific Technical Committee in Oral Health for the Brazilian Ministry of Health and he was president of the Brazilian Association for Preventive Dentistry from 1993-1995. He also represents Brazilian dentistry as a member of CNPq, which is the equivalent of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His research from 1980 to 1997 was focused on the anticariogenic effects of fluoride. Since 1995, he has studied the cariogenicity of dental biofilm using in situ models. His goal during this scientific visit to EDC is to focus on molecular biology methodologies applied to cariology.

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