Global Health Nexus, Winter 2003

NYU Dentistry Awarded $1 Million–Plus Grant to Identify Genetic Markers in Cariogenic Bacteria

Dr. Page W. Caufield, Professor of Cariology and Operative Dentistry and Head of the Division of Diagnostics, Infectious Disease and Health Promotion, has received a grant in excess of $1 million from the NIH/NIDCR to develop a genetic profile of the oral bacteria in young children with severe caries. Dr. Caufield predicts that the bacteria will yield DNA markers that could be used to identify children at risk for severe tooth decay.

He plans to compare his findings with a DNA analysis of bacteria from each child’s mother. In earlier research, Dr. Caufield was the first to demonstrate that mutans streptococci—one form of bacteria responsible for dental caries—are transmitted from mother to infant during intimate contact when the infant is around 26 months of age. Dr. Caufield’s three-year study at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City will focus on children three to five years old receiving treatment for severe caries.