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Latest Grants & Awards

Robert Quivey, Ph.D.
Welcher Professor in Dental Research in the Center for Oral Biology
Director, Center for Oral Biology
Training Program in Oral Science- T90/R90

The major goal of this training program is train oral scientists, citizens (T90) and non-citizens (R90), to develop an interdisciplinary approach to study oral health related issues.

NIH/NIDCR- 6/1/15-5/31/20
Oxidative Stress Responses in Oral Streptococci

Our goal is to determine whether it is possible to tip the ecological balance in dental plaque in favor of oral microorganisms associated with health, rather than with disease. In Aim 1 of the project, we will use proteomics to identify proteins associated with the S. mutans oxidative stress response.  In Aim 2, we will use a complementary transcriptomic approach to establish the number of S. mutans genomic transcripts associated with the oxidative stress response.  In Aim 3, we will use an established collection of genetically barcoded deletion mutant strains of S. mutans, created by our laboratory, to assign mutant strains to the proteins and transcripts identified in Aims 1 and 2.  This sub-library of mutant strains will be co-cultured with S. gordonii to determine the contribution of each gene in the sub-library to the ability of S. mutans to compete with S. gordonii.  In Aim 4, we will use the sub-library of mutant strains, identified in Aim 3, in the rat model of oral microbial infection, to determine the contribution of each oxidative stress gene to the ability of S. mutans to infect rats.  We will also use the deletion mutant sub-library to test sensitivity to compounds known to affect the ability of S. mutans to grow.  In this way, we will identify metabolic pathways responsive to oxidative stress. Our long-term goal is to identify new, and possibly probiotic, mechanisms for reducing dental disease in humans.

Catherine Ovitt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Genetics in the Center for Oral Biology
NIH/ NIDCR- 9/21/16-9/20/17 
Salivary gland-specific radioprotection
To investigate the hypothesis that radiosensitivity of the salivary glands is due to their inability to self-duplicate (Aim 1). We will address whether siRNAmediated protection of the salivary glands also rescues the proliferative, as well as secretory function, of acinar cells, without oncogenic effects (Aim 2). We will characterize the protective effects of systemic and localized amifostine to determine the proliferative and secretory capabilities of protected acinar cells (Aim 3). We expect that the information gained from these studies will provide insight into the basic mechanisms involved in acinar cell loss. In addition the planned experiments will validate and further develop experimental approaches for radioprotection.

NIH- 08/01/17-7/31/19
Engineered Salivary Gland Tissue Chips
Specific Aims include: UG3 Aim 1. Examine the dependence of cell seeding ratio (acinar to duct) and cell number on salivary gland organoid formation and function in MB well arrays. UG3 Aim 2. Examine the effect of hydrogel biochemical cues on cell self-assembly and secretory function of encapsulated salivary gland cells. UH3 Aim 3. Demonstrate the utility of salivary gland tissue chips by performing high-throughput library screen to discover radioprotective drugs and validate discovered entities using irradiated mice.