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Training in Craniofacial and Oral Health Research

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T-COHR: Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)

The Training in Craniofacial and Oral Health Research (T-COHR) Program provides a strong curriculum and thematic research experiences in an integrative framework that emphasizes training, mentoring, academic career development, scientific advancement and productivity. T-COHR is the training component of the Center for Oral Health Research (COHR), a University Center of Research Excellence within the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine that engages faculty and trainees in other disciplines and departments in the Colleges of Medicine, Graduate Studies, Nursing, and Dental Medicine at MUSC, the Department of Bioengineering at Clemson University, and the Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC.

The T-COHR Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is a National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)-funded program that provides a 10-week research training experience in Craniofacial and Oral Health for talented undergraduate students. T-COHR integrates mentored research projects with didactic lectures in research techniques, research ethics, and oral health; alongside activities with a dental clinical focus, including clinical observations and demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies in dental practice. Track-specific lectures include:

  • Tooth Development
  • Oral Infections
  • Periodontal Diseases
  • Oral Pharyngeal Cancer
  • Salivary Diagnostics
  • Temporomandibular Joint Biomechanics
  • Oral Health Community Engagement
  • Craniofacial Anomalies

During the 10-week program, students have opportunities for Clinical Shadowing and Clinical Observation experiences. Examples of activities to which students will be exposed include:

  • Graduate Periodontics Clinic – Students will observe dental implant placement being performed with an explanation by a periodontist on what can be learned about oral soft and hard tissue manipulation.
  • Graduate Endodontics Clinic – Students will observe clinical endodontic procedures (root canal therapy) with an endodontist discussing oral infections and consequences of dental caries.
  • Oral Rehabilitation Clinic – Students will observe the latest technology in dental restoratives with CAD/CAM technology for dental crowns with commentary by a restorative dentist.
  • Digital Radiography Clinic – Students will observe cone beam X-Ray and computed tomography acquisition systems used to image the oral and craniofacial complex with an explanation by a oral radiologist.
  • C-COHR Clinical Research Facility – Students will meet with research coordinators and learn how clinical dental research is conducted, including the importance of calibrating clinical observations.
  • Gnotobiotic Animal Research Facility – Students will meet with scientific and veterinary staff and learn how mice are studied in germ-free conditions.

During the training period, students participate in social activities, the Big Brother/Big Sister Program with existing T-COHR trainees (DMD/PhD, PhD and Postdoctoral fellows), and an informal dinner hosted by the College of Graduate studies with faculty presentations on how to apply to graduate school. At the end of the program, students give an oral presentation of their project to other students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty.

Students receive a salary ($10/hour) during the training period.  Students participating in SURP are registered for CGS 761-Laboratory Observation and Apprenticeship, a 15-hour course that appears on an MUSC transcript.

Research Foci

  • Molecular and Cellular Biology of Periodontal Inflammation and Disease Progression
  • Head and Neck Cancer Signaling Pathways Involved in Neoplastic Development/Progression and Predictive Salivary Biomarkers
  • Bioengineering/Biomechanics of Temporomandibular Joints and Craniofacial Regeneration
  • Bio-behavioral Factors related to Oral and System Health in Special Populations


Keith L. Kirkwood, DDS, PhD (Director)

Loraine Roylance, (Program Coordinator)

For additional information, please visit our website:

To apply for the T-COHR SURP: