Research News

Posted on: Sunday, 03/13/2016

Research Day 2016

In honor of Dean No-Hee Park's scientific accomplishments, the dental school held a special research day on Wednesday, February 24th. The full-day research symposium kicked-off in the morning and went through to the evening. The school welcomed six outside speakers from various parts of the world and 13 UCLA dental school faculty members also gave presentations on their current research projects to the packed crowd in lecture hall #13-041.

(Full group shot of all of the Research Day speakers)

To round out the days activities, there was a research poster competition. Following are the winners in each category:

Dental Student Category

3rd Place: Rachel Lim, Mentored by Dr. Jin Hee Kwak
2nd Place: Greg Astarian, Mentored by Dr. Kang Ting and Aaron James
1st Place: Jeffrey Olsen, Mentored by Dr. Christine Hong

Master’s / Residents Student Category 
3rd Place: Tingxi Wu, Mentored by Dr. Wenyuan Shi
2nd Place: Kaycee Walton, Mentored by Dr. Sotirios Tetradis
1st Place: Michael Hoang, Mentored by Dr. Yong Kim

PhD Student / Postdoctoral Fellow Category
3rd Place: Sarah Hiyari, Mentored by Dr. Flavia Pirih
2nd Place: Sung Hee Lee, Mentored by Dr. Ki-Hyuk Shin
1st Place: Batbileg Bor, Mentored by Dr. Wenyuan Shi


(Left: First place winner for the DDS category in the research poster competition.)
(Right: A poster presenter explains her research to an attendee.)

A special thank you to the following speakers who traveled a long way to help us make this year's Research Day especially significant:

Dr. Ana Pucar (DDS, MS, PhD)

Dr. Jeong-Hwa Baek (DDS, PhD)

Dr. Dai-il Paik (DDS, MSD, PhD)

Dr. Byung Moo Min (DDS, PhD)

Dr. Noh Hyun Park (MD, PhD)

Dr. Kasey Li (DDS, MD)

Bone Regeneration Study Shows Potential for New Therapeutics

Dr. Kang Ting, Professor and Chair of the Division of Growth and Development, led a study that looked at a protein combination, which improves bone regeneration and has promising potential for effective clinical therapeutics to treat bone defects and osteoporosis. The findings appeared as the lead article in the February print edition of the American Journal of Pathology. 

Dr. Ting's collaborators included, Dr. Chia Soo, Professor of Plastic Surgery and Vice Chair for Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Dr. Aaron James, a Fellow in Surgical Pathology. The research team's finding may be a big step toward developing effective therapeutic treatments for bone skeletal defects, bone loss and osteoporosis.

Read the full press release.

Study of Meth Users Reveals Valuable Oral Health Information

Dr. Vivek Shetty, Professor in the Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, along with research collaborators from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program, have published new findings that provide conclusive evidence of disproportionately high rates of dental disease in methamphetamine abusers. Dr. Shetty and his colleagues systematically investigated the patterns and severity of dental disease in 571 methamphetamine abusers -- the largest study to date of meth users. 

The team found that over 96 percent of those studied experienced dental cavities and 58 percent had untreated tooth decay. Only 23 percent retained all of their natural teeth, compared 48 percent for the general population in the U.S. The study provides valuable research and public health insight into the oral health of methamphetamine abusers and informs general health providers and addiction specialists about the oral health problems in meth abusers. 

To read the entire research alert. To access the article in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Saliva Testing Device Enters Clinical Trials 

Dr. David Wong, Professor in the Section of Oral Biology and the Associate Dean for Research, participated in a news briefing at the 2016 AAAS Meeting that was held on Friday, February 12, 2016 in Washington D.C. Dr. Wong presented on the topic of "Oral Cancer: Epidemiology, Mechanisms, and Early Detection". At the briefing, he discussed new research based on the prototype device — called electric field-induced release and measurement (EFIRM) — that can detect biomarkers in saliva for a malignancy called non-small cell lung cancer. The device is entering clinical testing in lung cancer patients in China this year and has a high accuracy compared to current sequencing technology. 

This device was previously reported on in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in November 2014.

New R01 Grant Focuses on the Growth of Oral Cancer

Dr. Igor Spigelman, Professor in the Section of Oral Biology, received a new collaborative R01 grant award from the National Cancer Institute, totaling $2.49 million over 5 years. The project focuses on establishing effectiveness and mechanisms of action of novel peripherally-restricted cannabinoids (PRCBs) against: a) human oral carcinoma proliferation, b) oral carcinoma-induced pain, and c) chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathies.

Dr. Spigelman’s UCLA team is collaborating with Dr. Brian Schmidt’s team at New York University and with Dr. Herbert Seltzman at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International in North Carolina on these studies. 

Chance to Look Deeper into Pancreatic Cancer

Dr. Stergios Katsiougiannis, a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. David Wong’s lab, was awarded a highly competitive Research Seed Grant by the Hirshberg Foundation for pancreatic cancer research. The goal of the Hirshberg Foundation is to provide early funding for basic scientists and clinicians to test innovative ideas for improving diagnostics and develop new treatment modalities for pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Katsiougiannis' proposal entitled, "Immunosuppressive effects of salivary exosomes in pancreatic cancer," was selected after peer-review for the 2015-2016 Seed Grand round.


UCLA Trainees to Compete in AADR Hatton Awards

Several research trainees from the School of Dentistry were chosen to compete in the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) Hatton Awards Competition at the 45th Annual Meeting of the AADR on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016. The invitation to participate is very competitive among young dental school researchers. The dental school commends the following trainees on this remarkable achievement.

Insoon Chang – Senior Category (Mentor: Dr. Cun-Yu Wang)
Sung Hee Lee - Senior Category (Mentor: Dr. Ki-Hyuk Shin)
Akrivoula Soundia – Senior Category (Mentor: Dr. Sotirios Tetradis)

Samantha Chiang – Junior Category
Justine Tanjaya - Junior Category (Mentor: Dr. Kang Ting)

Paul Yang (Mentor: Dr. Reuben Kim)

Six winners will be announced out of 27 competitors at the meeting and they will go on to compete in the IADR Unilever Hatton Awards Competition to be held at the IADR General Session & Exhibition in Seoul, Republic of Korea, June 21, 2016. All expenses will be paid by Unilever Oral Care.

Oral Biology Gives Back

The Section of Oral Biology gave back during the 2015 holiday season. The section held a food and clothing drive and donated the collected items to the Foothill Unity Center.