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Bioengineering, Tissue Engineering, Stem Cells, Biomaterials & Materials Research

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The replacement of tissues and organs with synthetic materials has become an increasingly important therapeutic modality and raises important questions about tissue response to a variety of substances. In dentistry, the clinical use of dental implants has intensified interest in collegiate faculty research, which examines changes in implant surfaces that may affect the attachment of soft tissue to implant surfaces, facilitate integration of a prosthesis with bone, or address the relationship between osteoporosis and oral health.  Technologies and applications that involve biomaterials and tissue engineering. Applications include: restorative material adhesion,  osseous tissue reconstruction, tooth replacement therapies

Dr. Brad A. Amendt
Dr. Steve Armstrong
Dentin and enamel adhesion/durability; evaluation of direct restorative materials.
Dr. Gustavo Avila-Ortiz
Alveolar bone, including understanding healing dynamics based on local and systemic individual patient features; analysis of site-specific factors that determine bone quality; evaluation of therapeutic strategies to prevent alveolar ridge resorption after tooth loss; implant site development techniques, in particular, sinus floor elevation.
Dr. Christopher Barwacz
Dr. Kim Brogden
Dr. Brogden's research focuses on the ability of peptides in saliva (defensins, histatins, etc.) to serve as downstream suppressors of cytokine signaling to recombinant hemagglutinin B (HagB) from the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. In his work, they have found that human β defensin 3 (HBD3) has the capacity to influence the chemokine and cytokine responses of human dendritic cells: the timing of HBD3 exposure and the concentration of HBD3 treaatment of dendritic cells were both important in the onset, magnitude, and composition of the dendritic cell response to HagB. The mechanism may involve binding of HBD3 to HagB: HBD3 binds to immobilized HagB via surface plasmon spectroscopy and via ELISA and HBD3 inhibits binding of rHagB via surface plasmon spectroscopy and via ELISA and HBD3 inhibits binding of rHagB to cells via confocal microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy. Future research will determine the extent to which defensins can suppress early events in inflammation, an exciting concept that could be exploited to develop therapeutics to prevent or treat a variety of oral mucosal infections, particularly where inflammation plays a role in the pathogenesis of disease and its long-term sequelae.
Dr. Isabelle Denry
Ceramics for biomedical applications: development and characterization; characterization of dental ceramics: crystalline phases, microstructure, structure/properties relationships; development of dental ceramics with tailored properties; leucite-containing ceramics, zirconia-based ceramics; resorbable 3-D ceramic scaffolds for bone tissue replacement.
Dr. Satheesh Elangovan
Developing and testing biomaterials for the purpose of periodontal and bone tissue engineering. Other interests include studying the interactions between biomaterials and biomolecules such as proteins, as well as DNA.
Dr. Julie A. Holloway
Dental ceramics and dental implant materials sciences.
Dr. Liu Hong
Adult stem cell-based craniofacial tissue engineering, including stem cell biology, in vitro and in vivo bone, cartilage and adipose regeneration, MR monitoring of engineered tissues.
Dr. Georgia K. Johnson
Effects of tobacco products on periodontal host response and the impact of smoking on periodontal treatment outcomes; the role of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides in periodontal disease and clinical dental implant research.
Dr. John Keller
Biological responses to biomedical materials, especially implants and bone substitute materials; characteristics of implant surfaces; mechanics of implant retention.
Dr. Rodrigo Rocha Maia
Dr. Aliasger Salem
Dr. Salem's research interests are primarily focused on self-assembling systems, the rational design of novel drug and gene delivery systems and on the development of sophisticated scaffolds for tissue-specific regeneration. In tissue engineering, Dr. Salem's laboratory applies microfabrication techniques to novel biomaterials to provide spatial control over tissue formation and to integrate minimally invasive scaffold delivery strategies. In drug/gene delivery, he is currently exploring the synergistic application of degradable particle technology, CpG oligonucleotides and heat shock proteins for generating sustained immunotherapeutic responses against cancer.
Dr. Galen Schneider
Bone cell biology as it relates to implant osseointegration and bone tissue engineering. His research interest focus on several questions: 1. How does osteoblast cell adhesion regulate bone growth at the molecular level? 2. Does implant surface microtopography influence osteoblast differentiation? 3. Can bone tissue be engineered using injectable scaffolds? 4. Can three-dimensional environments be used for osseous tissue engineering?
Dr. Erica Teixeira
Dr. Teixeira's research focuses on the development and evaluation of biomaterials and their application to dental public health. Specific areas of interest are mechanical behavior and surface modification of ceramic materials. In addition, her research involves the effect of new techniques/technologies on the interface between tooth and direct and indirect restorative materials.
Dr. Christopher Squier
For over twenty-five years, Dr. Squier's research has focused on the structure and function of stratified squamous mucosae, with particular regard to the nature of the superficial permeability barrier structure and the role of topical carcinogens and micro-organisms in the pathogenesis of local and systemic disease. Specific areas of interest have been interactions between alcohol and tobacco components in the development of oral cancer and the mechanisms by which Staphylococcae and their toxins are involved in the vaginal pathogenesis of toxic shock syndrome. More recently, he has been concerned with the role of oral health professionals in assisting their patients with tobacco cessation. Dr. Squier has published more than 200 books, chapters, and peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Ghadeer N. Thalji
Dr. Thalji's dissertation was focused on studying the wide genome expression profiling associated with healing around titanium implants (with different surface topographies). That included the in vivo rat model and the human model. The studies were done using the Affymetrix platform. Confirmation of the results was done with qRT-PCR. The analysis was completed using several Bioinformatics software’s including GeneSpring, IPA, DAVID, etc. Throughout her PhD program, she also did in vitro studies plating hMSCs on titanium discs. Experiences that she had include: Bioinformatics, RNA isolation and handling, In vivo studies - handling and surgeriesIn vitro studies - mostly using qRT-PCR.
Dr. Marcos Vargas
Dental materials: glass ionomers, dentin bonding, composite resins and esthetic dentistry.
Dr. Philip W. Wertz
Dr. Wertz's research focuses on the structures, functions, and metabolism of the lipids of skin and oral epithelium. He has examined the mechanisms by which lipids contribute to the barrier function of skin and oral mucosa, and the relationship of skin and oral mucosa barrier function to transcutaneous delivery of medication. His studies have also included the biochemistry of carcinogensis; essential fatty acids; compositions and structures of lipids of oral mucosa; metabolism of sphingosine and sphingolipids; comparative enzymology of skin and oral epithelium; the chemical synthesis of ceramide analogues; antimicrobial properties of lipids; and the preparation of liposomes for use in drug delivery systems.