Student Research Group: Professor Information

Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biosciences

Would be very happy to mentor dental students.

Balkowiec lab is interested in how the nervous system develops and is changed by disease. We study two major health problems: hypertension and trigeminal pain. The latter is highly relevant to dentistry, and dental students who worked in the lab in the past developed several unique research approaches to study dental pain. These include growing trigeminal ganglion neurons in a dish, and a model of tooth pulp inflammation in rats and mice.

David B. Morton, Ph.D.

The Morton lab uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a powerful genetic model organism to investigate signaling pathways in the nervous system. There are two primary projects currently underway in the lab –the first investigates cyclic GMP signaling, which is a universal signaling pathway present in virtually all organisms. The second seeks to understand basic mechanisms that underlie the onset and progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Curt Machida, Ph.D. Professor, Integrative Biosciences and Pediatric Dentistry

Dental caries represents one of the most common chronic diseases affecting young children in the United States and in the world, and is a multi-factorial disease involving complex interactions of genetic, dietary, environmental, behavioral and microbial risk factors. We propose to understand the factors affecting the genetic diversity and potential selection of strains of cariogenic microorganisms following caries restorative therapy in children. Our published studies have identified 39 mutans streptococci (MS) genetic strains, and have found that caries restorative therapy in some patients results in population shifts to highly acidogenic or acid-tolerant MS strains, with single dominant MS strains appearing at 1-year post-therapy. We propose to develop a standardized genetic database of natural strain variants of MS with defined cariogenic phenotypes that may serve as predictive identifiers for dental caries and treatment outcomes. The coexistence and concurrent virulence of distinct MS genotypes in individuals may serve as important determinants for increased caries incidence, as well as treatment success or failure. My laboratory has sponsored over 40 dental specialty residents and dental students in research during the past four years, including six current second-year students, and represents a multi-departmental collaboration between Integrative Biosciences and Pediatric Dentistry. We anticipate new program opportunities for students during the 2012-13 academic year.

Jennifer Crowe, D.D.S., M.S., Predoctoral Director, Orthodontic Department

Current research projects include:

  • Digitizing Oregon Child Study Clinic, dental students needed help archive radiographs
  • Comparisons of multiple orthodontic techniques for treatment of skeletal discrepancies (retrospective studies), dental students needed to assist orthodontic residents
  • Cone beam accuracy study, dental students needed to assist orthodontic residents

David A. Covell, Jr., D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair Department of Orthodontics

Assistance from a dental student would likely be possible:

  • Assessment of the reliability of cone beam computed tomography in measuring alveolar bone height and in identifying the presence of bony defects (MS project by resident Megan Miller; collaborative project between orthodontics and periodontology)
  • Accuracy of a 3-dimensional model scanner for use in orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning (MS project of resident Scott Cardall; using an Ortho Insight 3D Scanner)
  • Treatment effects of the Forsus Appliance (a fixed-functional appliance) for Angle Class II correction (MS project of resident David Moradi; will be measuring records obtained from a large private practice)
  • Archiving records of an untreated longitudinal sample from the Oregon Child Study Clinic (contributing records to a national database for use in studies of dental and craniofacial growth and development or for treatment controls- involves scanning of radiographs from the archived collection)

Michael Danilchik, Ph.D.

Availability: always happy to provide technical support for student projects!

My research is focused on very basic cell biology: how cells use the machinery of cell division (their membranes and cytoskeleton) to form tissues, carry out morphogenesis and wound healing. Most of my work focuses on early development, but the molecular tools, optical gear, and techniques we have in my lab can readily be applied to problems of more immediate concern in oral health: how do epithelial cells respond to open wounds? what kinds of artificial surfaces support osteoblasts engaged in osseointegration? How is the extracellular matrix modified during mineralization? How do biofilms respond to various agents?

Carmem S. Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor Biomaterials and Biomechanics

I have had a very positive experience working with dental students so far, so I would be thrilled to recruit as much help as I can from you guys.

  1. Improved dental adhesives using vitamin B2 as a collagen crosslinker to reinforce the dental substrate
  2. Evaluation of polymer network formation using fluorescent switching probes (this is a fundamental study to understand how the monomers rearrange to form polymers used in dental materials)
  3. Nanostructured polymeric material for controlled degradation/drug release targeted at periodontal regeneration
  4. Design of new monomers as low stress, degradation-resistant alternatives in dental composites

Mark Engelstad D.D.S., M.D., M.H.I.

I am currently working on a couple of projects (and each involves a dental student) and, with my other duties, its about all I can handle for the moment.  As the year progresses, I'll have more opportunity/ opening and will begin newer projects where I will be welcoming student involvement.

  • Imaging Informatics. Using CT data to diagnose jaw tumors (before biopsy).
  • General (dental/ craniofacial) informatics.  This is a wide area of study that could take many shapes/ forms involving things like structured information, use of information, human-computer interaction, electronic health records, etc.

Richie Kohli, B.D.S., M.S., Diplomate A.B.D.P.H., Assistant Professor of Community Dentistry

Barriers and facilitators to dental care among African American seniors.  Although the oral health of Americans has improved in the past 30 years, disparities have been found among elderly African Americans. With the input from African American seniors, health care providers and stakeholders, this project will identify culturally appropriate oral health solutions to prevent oral disease in African American seniors. The knowledge obtained from this study will help to reduce oral health inequities and improve the quality of life of African American seniors.

Karla Kent, Ph.D., Professor of Integrative Biosciences

My current research is focused on patient safety in the dental setting. As part of a multi-institutional collaboration, we are defining dental adverse events through retrospective chart review as we test the effectiveness of electronic trigger tools at identifying adverse events from electronic health records. The overall goal of the research is to identify threats to patient safety and provide dental practices with tools to monitor such threats so they can ensure that a positive safety culture and safe environment is maintained.

Sivaraman Prakasam, B.D.S., M.S.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Advisor for the CaseCAT student research program

Our lab focuses on innate immunology. Our specific focus is on Peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs) and their role in inflammatory disease. We are interested in understanding what role

these molecules may play in modulating inflammation during pathogenesis of periodontal disease. We are also interested in examining the potential of these molecules as therapeutic agents and/or disease markers. Towards addressing these questions, currently our lab uses tissue culture models, molecular biology tools, and human saliva/gingival tissue samples.