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The Catalyst

Symposium reviews oral health innovations, 3D successes

By J. Ryne Danielson
Public Relations

MUSC’s James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine and the Center for Oral Health Research hosted a symposium on oral health research Nov. 21.  William V. Giannobile, DDS, chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, gave the keynote address.

Visiting speaker Dr. William Giannobile discussed cutting-edge dental techniques, such as 3-D printing of body parts, at the Nov. 21 symposium. photo by J. Ryne Danielson, Public Relations

Giannobile discussed developments in oral and periodontal bioengineering, including the prospect of constructing body parts with 3–D printing technology.

He presented a study in which 3–D printed organic scaffolds, structures to which biological materials can be grafted, were used to augment the healing process and promote periodontal regeneration by serving as a means of delivery for therapeutic stem cells.

“We have a long way to go in making this therapy cost-effective,” he said. “But the results are very promising.”

Keith Kirkwood, Ph.D., DDS, associate dean for research and chairman of the MUSC Department of Oral Health Sciences, said “Dr. Giannobile was invited because he epitomizes the dentist-scientist through his research bringing tissue and bioengineering principals to clinical fruition in dentistry, especially with regard to periodontal regeneration.”

The statewide symposium, Kirkwood said, was intended to foster interest in oral health research from outside the college of dental medicine as well as to encourage collaborative research among dental clinicians.  Presentation topics ranged from bioengineering and regenerative medicine to cancer biology and disparities in public health access.

The Center for Oral Health Research, according to Kirkwood, is currently focused on expanding its four cores: clinical, gnotobiotic animal research, laboratory, and training though developing an infrastructure and encouraging junior investigators who are conducting the research of tomorrow.

The center has provided a major impetus for developing a sustainable oral and craniofacial research program for the College of Dental Medicine. "Further,” Kirkwood said, “we've established a pilot feasibility program to promote small projects and foster innovative high-risk, high–impact research." The ultimate goal of this program, he said, is to provide resources and training for investigators to develop research grant applications that will directly utilize one or more of the COHR cores and to translate basic research findings into practical applications.

“Getting new technologies into clinical practices is one of the key challenges of dentistry," Giannobile said, praising the COHR's pilot program which aims to overcome this challenge through facilitating innovative basic, translational and clinical research in the areas of oral and craniofacial biology. “The regulatory burdens can be cumbersome,” he continued. “I’m on the FDA advisory panel for reviewing dental drugs and devices, and I haven’t had one meeting in six years for a new drug or device. It’s very disappointing when we’ve made so much progress on the research side.”

The Center for Oral Health Research will continue its outreach and development program next year with the 5th annual James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine Scholars Day. This daylong research conference will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 19, in the MUSC Drug Discovery and Bioengineering buildings. The keynote address will be presented by Peter Polverini, DDS, DMSc, professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

MUSC postdoctoral fellows and students involved in oral health research are welcome to participate. Abstracts can be submitted online at:

January 6, 2015



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