Summer Research Fellowship Program

2013 Summer Research Fellowship Recipients

College of Dental Medicine
Section of Growth & Development – Division of Orthodontics
Mentor: Dr. Jeremy Mao
Tiffany Chen, C'2016
Jessica Pilloni, C'2016
Ying Yue, C'2016
Mentors: Dr. Sunil Wadhwa 
Ross Aronson, C'2016                                    
Bianca Cabri, C'2016                                                                      
Thomas Choi, C'2016                                                                                                        
Alexandra Greco, C'2016
Section of Growth & Development - Division of Pediatrics
Mentor: Dr. Shantanu Lal
Juliana Ginsberg, C'2016
Section of Social & Behavioral Sciences - Division of Behavioral Science
Mentors: Dr. Burton Edelstein 
Brekke Hudelson, C'2016
Natali Nunez, C'2016
Jessica Quick, C'2016
Vicky Thakkar, C'2014
Mentor: Dr. David Albert
Christopher Brett, C'2016
David Whiting, C'2016
Section of Social & Behavioral Sciences - Division of Community Health
Mentor: Dr. Lynn Tepper
Ashley Coffey, C'2016
Anshul Mainkar, C'2016
College of Physicians & Surgeons 
Department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine
Mentor: Dr. Masayuki Yazawa
Yehuda Isseroff, C'2016
Columbia University Medical Center NYS Psychiatric Institute
Department of Developmental Neuroscience
Mentor: Dr. Martha Welch
Ewelina Fiedor, C'2016
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science  
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Helen Lu
Sean Kim, C'2016
Andrew Sugar, C'2016
Mailman School of Public Health
Department of Health & Policy Management
Mentor: Dr. Ira Lamster
Sima Tafreshi, C'2016
Teachers' College
Department of Speech & Language Pathology
Mentor: Dr. Georgia Malandraki
Luke Soletic, C'2016
Active Research Projects

Section of Growth & Development - Division of Orthodontics
Mentor: Dr. Jeremy Mao
Tiffany Chen
Project Title: Role of HOTAIR in osteogenesis

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.

1) ChIP-seqdata from previous literature suggest that HOTAIR binds multiple Collagen promoters
2) HOTAIR expression increases during the early differentiation and then drops at late differentiation
3) Overexpression of HOTAIR reduces the expression of Col1a and Runx2, both of which are markers of osteogenesis
4) Knockdown of HOTAIR increases the expression of Col1a and Runx2
Jessica Pilloni
Project Title: Wnt3a and BMP7 in OdontoblastSpecification/Differentiation and Dentin Regeneration

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. 

1) Endodonticallytreated root canals filled with collagen gel showed little sign of regeneration. BMP7 induced robust, if not excessive, dentin regeneration, while Wnt3a alone yielded both dental pulp and dentin regeneration. Strikingly, Wnt3a and BMP7 together orchestrated both dental pulp and dentin regeneration.
2) Quantitatively, the thickness of regenerated dentin by Wnt3a and/or BMP7 delivery was ~6-9% of the total thickness of native dentin, which is considered sufficient for compensating an endodonticallyremoved root dentin layer.
3) The optical density of newly formed dentin by Wnt3a and BMP7 lacked significant differences from the density of native dentin.  
4) These findings indicate that canonical Wntand BMP7 indeed orchestrate dentin regeneration in vivo in a large animal model, and suggest the need to further optimize protein induced dentin regeneration for clinical applications.
Ying Yue
Project Title: Generation of Foxq1 and Lhx8transgenic mice

Research question: What is the function of Foxq1and Lhx8 in mesenchymalcell differentiation to osteoblast and odontoblast?

Project goal:

1)To understand roles of Foxq1and Lhx8in tooth and bone development using transgenic mice.
2)To study signaling pathways involved in orofacialstem cell differentiation. 
Preparation of transgenic constructs.
cDNAof target genes is inserted into a plasmid vector (Dr. David Rowe, UCONN Health Center).
When the construct is inserted into mouse genome, the target gene expression is under the control of rat a1 (I) collagen gene promoter and is limited to osteoblasts and odontoblast.

Section of Growth & Development - Orthodontics
Mentor: Dr. Sunil Wadhwa 
Ross Aronson
Project Title: The Effects of Estrogen on Mandibular ChondrocartilageGrowth
Research question: To examine the effects of estrogen receptor beta signaling on mandibular cartilage growth

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.

1) OVX caused a significant increase in mandibular condylar cartilage total cell number compared to sham group in WT but not in ErBKO mice.
2) OVX caused a decrease in the ratio of hypertrophic chondrocyte cells to total cartilage thickness compared to sham operated mice but not in ErBKO mice.
3) Mandibular condylar cartilage thickness was not significantly different in any of the groups.
Bianca Cabri
Project Title: Effects of Estrogen on Mandibular Condyle Cartilage Maturation

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.

1) It was previously shown that decreased occlusalloading in female WT mice, but not male WT mice, caused a significant decrease in Col 2 and Sox 9 expression when compared to normal loading controls.
2) In this study, gene expression analysis showed that decreased occlusalloading caused no significant changes in Sox 9 and Col2 in both male and female ER-B KO mice.
3) Immunohistochemistry of Col 2 showed that protein expression matched gene expression in ER-B KO mice exposed to normal and decreased occlusalloading.
4) Immunohistochemistry showed that there were no changes in Col 2 expression between normal and decreased occlusalloading in both male and female ER Beta mice.
Alexandra Greco
Project Title: Effects of Estrogen on Mandibular ChondrocartilageGrowth

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. 

1)Estrogen treatment caused a significant decrease in cell numbers in WT mice but not in the ER beta knockout compared to a placebo treated WT mouse
2)Estrogen caused an increase in the ratio of hypertrophic to total cartilage thickness compared to sham or WT mice but not in ER beta KO
Thomas Choi
Project title: Effects of Estrogen on Mandibular Chondylarcartilage Growth

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.

1)Forced mouth opening experiment on n=10 erbeta kofemale mice
2)Forced mouth opening experiment on n=10 erbeta komale mice

Section of Growth & Development - Division of Pediatrics
Mentor: Dr. Shantanu Lal
Juliana Ginsberg
Project title: Studying the Impact of the Next Generation of ‘Extreme Carbohydrates’ on Oral Health in Children

Research question:

1.Children with higher DMFT/dmftscores will prefer new extreme concentrated sugar carbohydrates (CSCs) to more neutral flavored or chocolate candy.

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.

1) Literature review completed
2) Study was approved by the IRB on August 23rd  after two previous submissions and returns
3) Beginning data collection, and hope to have all data by January 2014

Section of Social & Behavioral Sciences - Division of Behavioral Science
Mentor: Dr. Burton Edelstein 
Brekke Hudelson
Project title: The Attitudes of Physicians and Dentists Toward Medicaid and Their Influence on Willingness to Provide Medicaid Care

Research question: What are the attitudes of physicians and dentists toward Medicaid, and how do these attitudes influence provider willingness to serve Medicaid patients?

Project goals:   
1. To better understand the attitudes of physicians and dentists toward Medicaid through a literature search (systematic review)

2. To further explore dentists’attitudes and their effect on willingness to care for Medicaid-insured children under 6 years old (survey development) 

1) Valuable knowledge has been gained through literature review
2)  Knowledge has been applied to behavioral theory
3)  Theory has been used to develop questions targeting each aspect of dentists’perceptions of Medicaid
Natali Nunez & Jessica Quick
Project title: Early Childhood Caries Management Programs Underway in the United States: An Environmental Scan and Analysis

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. 

1) Literature review
•Lessons from Medicine: Opportunities and Constraints for Oral Disease Management
•Overview and Rationale for the Systematic Screening and Assessment Method

2) Identifying programs

•Sponsors and funding sources
•State Initiatives
•Medical literature database search
•Current news

Section of Social & Behavioral Sciences - Division of Behavioral Science
Mentor: Dr. David Albert
Christopher Brett
Project title:  Follow-up and Evaluation of the Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) Dental Tobacco Cessation iPad(DEN-TC) as Part of the Pilot Study “Developing a Decision Support System to Promote Tobacco Counseling by Dentists”
Project Summary: The study was designed to see if devices like the iPad can be effectively used as innovative interfaces to break down barriers between clinicians and their patients. The study specifically evaluates if the Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS) Dental Tobacco Cessation iPad (DEN-TC) is able to encourage and assist dentists to provide tobacco cessation advice and assistance for their patients who use tobacco products by having patients fill out basic health and tobacco use information on an iPad which is then summarized and paired with a recommendation for the appropriate clinical course of action on the dentist’s iPad. My involvement afforded me the opportunity to collaboratively develop and administer an email/phone survey to patients as well as enter, organize and analyze survey data, and visit dental offices to meet with clinicians and staff to observe and address issues related to iPad implementation. The experience has been interesting, informative and very rewarding overall.
1) Clinician and staff pre-study survey results were entered and organized in SPSS for which a codebook was created. Descriptive statistics were generated from the results and basic analysis was completed comparing clinician/staff positions and offices.
2) A patient follow-up survey was created along with corresponding email templates and phone scripts.
3) Post-survey results had been collected for 31 of the 80 patients contacted by phone and/or email as of the start of the semester.
4) During visits to the dental offices, a greater understanding was obtained concerning how different offices use the iPadwith respect environment and clinician/staff attitudes. Possible barriers to implementation and patient enrollment were identified and discussed.
David Whiting
Project title: Evaluating a Dental Tobacco Cessation System (DTCS) for Post-Doctoral Dental Trainees

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

1) 6/12 focus groups completed
2) Preliminary Analysis using NVIVO and SPSS

Section of Social & Behavioral Sciences - Division of Community Health
Mentor: Dr. Lynn Tepper
Ashley Coffey & Anshul Mainkar
Project Title: Dental Anxiety in Washington Heights

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.

Reorganized structure of project since completion of Phase 2 and prioritized activities for subsequent phases
Created an instrument to accomplish our research goals
○Weekly group meetings to fine-tune survey
○Instrument must satisfy Phase 3 research goals as well as provide study population and data for future research activities
Collaborated with:
○The Anxiety Disorders Clinic at New York State Psychiatric Institute: Hispanic Treatment Program
○Associates in Internal Medicine: Dr. Rafael Lantigua
Prepared IRB for submission 

Columbia University
Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Helen Lu
Sean Kim
Project title: Evaluation of Pulp Cell Infiltration and Cell Response in a Tooth Slice Model of Pulpotomy

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.

1) Collected healthy 3rdmolars from the OMFS clinic of Columbia University. Teeth were sliced to obtain a 2mm thick section at the cervical region.
2) The pulp was removed from the slice while preserving the pre-dentin layer and PEG-F solution was added into the pulp chamber.
3) A 1x1mm human pulp section was encased in the hydrogel by photo-polymerization (UV, 365nm, 5min)
4) Culturing explant in supplemented medium up to 56 days.
Andrew Sugar
Project Title: Effect of Calcium Phosphate (CaP) Coated Nanofiberson Response of Human Periodontal Ligament Fibroblast (hPDL-FB)

Research Question: Will the addition of a biomimetic calcium phosphate coating on nanofiberscaffolds impact the phenotype of PDL-FB derived from human tissue?

Project Goals:
1) Fabricate scaffolds via electrospinningand immersion
2) Characterize scaffolds before and after cell culture
3) Characterize cell response to scaffolds
1) Scaffolds were fabricated and coated via immersion method using SBF-A and SBF-B; PDL-FB were seeded on scaffolds
2) SEM images taken of scaffolds as fabricated and at day 28
3) PDL-FB seen on PLGA and SBF-A scaffolds (Live/Dead, Days 1, 7, 14, 28)
4) No cell attachment on SBF-B  scaffolds (Live/Dead)
•Though SBF-B immersion resulted in crystalline CaPcoating, previous studies have shown greater cell attachment and proliferation on poorly crystalline CaPcoated scaffolds (Khan et al, 2004)
5) Cells proliferated similarly on both PLGA and SBF-A scaffolds, except at Day 14 where there was greater cell proliferation on PLGA scaffolds. ALP activity was similar between PLGA and SBF-A scaffolds.

Mailman School of Public Health - Department of Health & Policy Management
Mentor: Dr. Ira Lamster
Sima Tafreshi
Project title: Oral Health Behaviors as a Surrogate of Healthy Behaviors

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.

1) Designed a survey questionnaire which assesses oral hygiene practices and general healthy behaviors:  alcohol consumption, smoking, dietary habits, physical activity, oral health behavior
2) Literature review with five main foci: in progress
3) IRB: in progress

Columbia University Medical Center NYS Psychiatric Institute 
Department of Developmental Neuroscience
Mentor: Dr. Martha Welch
Ewelina Fiedor
Project title: Salivary analysis of inflammatory markers in preterm infants and their mothers to identify risks for developmental disorders

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

1) ELISA analysis of 47 maternal samples (25 FNI & 22 Control) for TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and Oxytocin
2) Cortisol experiment planned for November
3) ELISA detected IL-1beta [FNI: 67.6 vs. Control: 102.4 pg/ml (ns)]. Did not detect TNF-alpha nor OT.
4) Planned repeat with alternate TNF-alpha assays 

Columbia University Medical Center
Physicians & Surgeons - Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine
Mentor: Dr. Masayuki Yazawa
Yehuda Isseroff
Project title: Drug Screens on Patient-Derived, iPSC-Generated Cardiomyocytes

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. 

1) Verapamil may restore severe patient phenotypes
2) Verapamil + lower concentration Roscovitineshown to be promising
3) Many Roscovitineanalogs have similar effects as Roscovitine

Columbia University Teacher's College
Department of Speech & Language Pathology
Mentor: Dr. Georgia Malandraki
Luke Soletic
Project title: The Effect of Lingual Strength on Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia) in Stroke Patients

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).

1) Literature review complete
2) Project database created
3) Available subject data entered
4) Preliminary data examination (descriptive statistics)