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Release: April 18, 2002

UI College of Dentistry researchers receive grants

            Two researchers in the University of Iowa College of Dentistry recently received grants for research projects.

Steven Levy, D.D.S., M.P.H., professor of preventive and community dentistry in the UI College of Dentistry and professor of epidemiology in the UI College of Public Health, and colleagues have received $521,612 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for an ongoing study of fluoride use among children.

The Iowa Fluoride Study, which first began in 1991, has tracked a group of 700 babies, now ages 7 to 10, in order to examine how fluoride exposure and ingestion beginning at birth relate to the occurrence of dental fluorosis (cosmetic changes in the teeth) and cavities. The study is also looking at the relationships between children's sucking on pacifiers and fingers and the need for orthodontic treatment.

            Co-investigators for the dental emphasis of the Iowa Fluoride Study include Jim Wefel, Ph.D., John Warren, D.D.S., Rebecca Slayton, D.D.S., Ph.D., Mike Kanellis, D.D.S., and Teresa Marshall, Ph.D., all professors in the UI College of Dentistry; and Steve Hillis, Ph.D., UI assistant research scientist in statistics and actuarial science.

Galen Schneider, D.D.S., Ph.D., UI assistant professor of prosthodontics and a researcher in the College of Dentistry's Dows Institute for Dental Research, has received a $147,00 grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research.

His research involves identifying how a specific protein, FAK, causes a cell to become an osteoblast (a bone forming cell) and secrete bone. By knowing what surfaces and proteins cause FAK to be activated, Schneider can target them to grow bone tissue, a process known as tissue engineering. This knowledge could also be used to target specific genes that cause bone growth to help with treatments for osseous (bone) disease and craniofacial defects. In addition, by learning which proteins activate FAK, researchers may be able to develop dental implant surfaces that activate similar proteins and pathways to aid in a process known as osseointegration.

            Clark Stanford, D.D.S., Ph.D., UI professor of prosthodontics, is co-investigator of this grant. John Keller, Ph.D., UI professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, and dean of the UI Graduate College; Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D., the Kate Daum Research Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the UI and head of the department; and Mike Schaller, Ph.D., professor of cell biology at the University of North Carolina, are consultants on the research study. Stanford and Keller are also researchers at the College of Dentistry's Dows Institute for Dental Research.