Research in our department encompasses research in all aspects of oral biology: cell and molecular biology of tissues of the oral cavity, signal transduction, biomineralization, genomics, tissue engineering of oral structures, applied clinical research, AIDS research, oral microbiology and cariology, functional anatomy, and evolutionary biology. Annual departmental funding approaches $2 Million per year. Funding sources include the National Institutes of Health (more than 50% from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research) and the National Science Foundation.
The Department of Oral Biology laboratories provide an exciting environment for new discoveries in many areas of oral biology. Annual departmental funding approaches $2 Million per year. Funding sources include the National Institutes of Health (more than 50% from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research) and the National Science Foundation.Dr. Xianghong Luan’s lab studies the molecular and genomic parameters that determine cell fate and commitment during the differentiation and bioregeneration of dental tissues. Her lab is part of the Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics.
The Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics is a joint venture with the Department of Orthodontics and works on questions related to craniofacial genetics, genomics, and proteomics as they pertain to enamel and periodontal biomimetics and evolution.
Learn more about the Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics
Dr. Anne George’s lab focuses on the molecular biology, biomimetics, and biochemistry of tooth dentin and dentin-related proteins. A particular interest are mechanisms of biomineralization. Mineralized tissues occur widely in nature. In vertebrates bone, teeth and cementum are the principal mineralized tissues. The shapes of these tissues are defined by their organic components. In bone, dentin and cementum the organic matrix is comprised principally of collagen fibers and noncollagenous proteins. The fibrous arrays of collagen provide strength, while the rigidity and high compressive strength are derived from the apatite crystals of the mineralized phase, deposited within the collagen fibers. The noncollagenous (NCPs) proteins of bone and dentin, even though present in small quantities relative to collagen, are of extreme functional importance in the mineralization process.
Dr. Tao is interested in studying the role of interaction between bacteria and viruses in the health of the human hosts, women and infants in particular. His research is focused on investigating the mechanisms that cause oral cancer, to ultimately lead to developing methods and products for early detection and prevention, and ultimately improved survival rates. Additionally, he is studying the associated factors leading to oral cancer. For instance, if we know the ‘accomplances’ that contribute to the development of the cancer, we can target the weakest once, and stop the cancer from spreading.
So far, most oral cancer cases have been attributed to either tobacco or alcohol usage, and viral infection. There is also clinical evidence to show that poor oral hygiene is associated with oral cancer. However, the mechanisms by which these conditions occur are still un-known, including how bacteria plays a part. We are the only research group studying both how and why bacteria can be a contributing factor in oral cancer; and how alcohol is converted to carcinogen, and contributing to HPV infection. Our long expertise in microbiology and microbial genetics, gives us the edge in effectively studying how bacteria contributes to cancer.