2014 Summer Research Fellowship Receipients
Project Summary: Bone loss due to different pathological conditions is the leading cause of tooth loosening and eventual tooth loss. To facilitate bone regeneration, dental clinicians currently place bone grafts of many types; however, these strategies are aggressive. My research project aims to lay the groundwork for a novel approach to rebuild bone by differeniating a patient’s own mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into osteoblasts through manipulating HOTAIR, a long noncoding RNA that plays a role in regulating osteogenesis. So far, knockdown of HOTAIR in MSCs has been found to promote osteoblast differentiation, as seen by increased collagen synthesis and Runx2 gene expression. Further testing is necessary to determine whether these MSCs with altered HOTAIR expression can modulate bone formation in vivo.
Project Summary: Currently, I work in Dr. Jeremy Mao's lab, under Dr. Mo Chen and Dr. Jian Zhou, on a project entitled: Wnt3a and BMP7 in Odontoblast Specification/Differentiation and Dentin Regeneration. The project's goals are to identify markers that provide evidence that regenerative tissue is like native tissue and to examine the gene expression pattern in newly formed tissue. Specifically, I work on imaging to quantify and compare the morphology between regenerative and native dentin and pulp. This project has been exciting to work on as it has direct clinical application for inducing tissue regeneration in an endodontically treated root canal.
Research question: What is the function of Foxq1and Lhx8 in mesenchymalcell differentiation to osteoblast and odontoblast?
Project goal: Estrogen deficiency has been shown to cause an increase in mandibular condylar cartilage thickness. The goal of this study was to examine the role of estrogen receptor beta (ErB) signaling mediating this effect.
Project Summary: My research involved studying the etiology of TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders) and more specifically, the effects of estrogen on mandibular cartilage maturation. Defects in mechanical loading induced TMJ (temporomandibular joint) remodeling are believed to be a major factor in the development of TMD. It has been previously demonstrated that sex differences exist in mice exposed to decreased occlusal loading. Therefore, it is believed that increased levels of estrogen in female mice cause inhibition of mandibular condylar cartilage maturation, and affect the response of condylar cartilage to mechanical loading. My research was conducted to see if these sex differences can be abolished in mice deficient with estrogen receptor. Greater understanding of sex differences in adaptive TMJ remodeling is crucial to understand the basis of the TMD disease process, and for the development of future regenerative therapies.
Research question: What are the effects of estrogen receptor beta signaling on mandibular cartilage growth?
Project goal: Estrogen treatment previously has been shown to cause a decrease in mandibular condylar cartilage thickness. The goal of this study was to examine the role of ER beta mediating this effect.
Research question: Examine the effects of Estrogen Receptor beta signaling on mechanical loading in TMJ remodeling
Project goal: We have previously found that forced mouth opening caused an increase in chondrocyte maturation and proliferation, the goal of the project is to examine if these effects are mediated by Estrogen Receptor beta.
2. Children who indicate consumption of protective dietary factors will have a lower DMFT/dmftscore.
3. There will be a significant difference in caries risk on primary versus permanent teeth.
Project goal: There has been an exponential rise in the consumption of extreme sugars within the past decade. Our study hopes to identify extreme CSC’s that cause ECC as well as dietary foods and practices that confer a significant preventative effect. A questionnaire will be administered to patients in the Columbia pediatric dental clinic as well as collection of DMFT/dmftscores and BMI.
Research question: What are the attitudes of physicians and dentists toward Medicaid, and how do these attitudes influence provider willingness to serve Medicaid patients?
2. To further explore dentists’attitudes and their effect on willingness to care for Medicaid-insured children under 6 years old (survey development)
Project Summary: Jessica and Natali participated in the Summer Medicaid Research Forum in conjunction with the Section of Social and Behavioral Science at the College of Dental Medicine. Their project, entitled “Early Childhood Caries Management Programs Underway in the United States: An Environmental Scan and Analysis,” was conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Burton Edelstein, Chair of the Section of Social and Behavioral Sciences and prominent spokesperson for pediatric oral health policy, as well as Dr. Carol Kunzel, Associate Professor of Clinical Dental Community Health and Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and Director of the Office of Research Administration. The central aim of their project was to catalog, characterize, and compare all of the early childhood caries intervention programs currently underway across the United States. Over the summer, Jessica and Natali conducted an environmental scan and they created a comprehensive compendium of childhood caries programs. The programs included in the compendium will now undergo further analysis and will be compared with the goal of identifying the best practices in caries management for young, socially vulnerable children. This analysis will serve as a tool for federal and state policymakers working to improve dental services for children served by Medicaid.
2) Identifying programs
Research question: How to best tailor a smoking cessation training program to each specialty in dentistry
Project goal: Collect necessary data to create an effective smoking cessation training program for each specialty in dentistry
Project Summary: The Dental Anxiety, Fear and Phobia Research Group at Columbia University CDM is aimed at investigating the principles of dental anxiety and its prevalence in the Washington Heights community, with an ultimate goal of establishing a dental anxiety clinic at Columbia. This project began in 2011 and is currently in Phase III. Phase I examined the nature of dental anxiety and explored current methods in diagnosis and treatment. This phase included literature reviews on common and validated dental anxiety scales and research on non-pharmacological treatment methods. Phase II was a pilot study exploring dental anxiety in Washington Heights as it relates to patient need and overall understanding. This was accomplished by surveying both the community and Columbia students and residents in order to determine prevalence and level of knowledge concerning dental anxiety, respectively. We are currently in Phase III of the study, whereby we seek to identify populations with greater anxiety and correspondingly are in greater need for treatment. The two projects associated with Phase III are "Dental Anxiety and Phobia: Demographics and Epidemiology" and "Language Barriers: A Cause of Dental Anxiety". Both projects utilize a common survey containing a dental anxiety scale and a number of variables that will be statistically analyzed to determine possible correlations between anxiety and demographic factors, language and epidemiology. Completion of this phase will generate our target population, which can then be used in subsequent projects to discover the most effective therapeutic options for our target population. The end result of this series of projects will be the foundation of a dental anxiety clinic at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
Research question: Will PEG-F hydrogel support pulp cell migration, differentiation, and biosynthesis within the pulp chamber?
Project goal: To evaluate pulp tissue regeneration and dentin pulp-complex formation in the PEG-F hydrogel within the tooth slice model.
Research Question: Will the addition of a biomimetic calcium phosphate coating on nanofiberscaffolds impact the phenotype of PDL-FB derived from human tissue?
Research question:If one maintains proper oral hygiene, is one also likely to engage in other healthy behaviors, thus reducing the risk for chronic disease? If so, can one use oral hygiene as a surrogate marker for general healthy behavior?
Project goal:To determine if oral health behaviors are related to general health behaviors associated with a healthy lifestyle.
Research question: Does Family Nurture Intervention (FNI) modify levels of inflammatory markers in preterm infants and their mothers? Do inflammatory markers correlate with developmental disorders in premature infants?
Project goal: Determine correlation between inflammatory markers and long term development
Project Summary: Which drug(s) can rescue Timothy syndrome cardiomyocytesfrom long QT syndrome phenotypes? Certain genetic mutations in cardiac calcium channels are present in Timothy Syndrome (TS), causing long-QT syndrome and lethal arrhythmias. Using patient-derived, induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cell-generated cardiomyocytes, we were able to further characterize cardiac phenotypes in TS. Specifically, I worked with confocal microscopy in investigating which of various drug candidates could serve as a patient-specific antiarrhythmic in the rescue of TS cardiac phenotypes.
Is lingual strength correlated with swallowing performance in adult stroke sufferers?
Project Summary: Beginning the summer after first year, I chose to do dysphagia (swallowing disorder) research at the Swallowing, Voice, and Neuroimaging Laboratory (SVNL) at Columbia University Teacher's College. Dysphagia is a common problem among individuals with neurologic pathologies, and its study and treatment is a unique niche in speech and language pathology. The SVNL is engaged in clinical research and treatment of dysphagia in child and adult populations, and utilizes myriad technologies such as: fiber endoscopic evaluation of swallowing, surface electromyography, oral manometry, and functional MRI analysis. My personal research project with the SVNL involves studying the relationship of lingual (tongue) strength on swallowing performance in adult stroke sufferers. I created a project database from relevant previous and ongoing SVNL research studies. My goal is to determine if there is a correlation between reduced lingual strength and dysphagia, particularly aspiration status. Furthermore, I hope to determine the potential use of lingual strength as a predictor of dysphagia to be used as a screening tool. My work at the SVNL has allowed me to augment CDM's dental curriculum with an appreciation of a closely related discipline that I hope will enhance and broaden my clinical skill set.
Project goal: To create a database of post-stroke individuals and examine correlation between tongue strength and dysphagia; determine possible predictive value (potential for screening).