Global Health Nexus, Winter 2004

Drs. Teixeira, Kamer, and Li Receive All–University Research Challenge Fund Grants

Three NYU Dentistry faculty members have received All-University Research Challenge Fund grants, which recognize innovative, faculty-initiated research judged on a competitive basis by senior faculty from a cross-section of disciplines at New York University. The three are: Dr. Cristina Teixeira, Assistant Professor of Orthodontics and Basic Science and of Craniofacial Biology, for her grant entitled “Phosphate-Induced Apoptosis in Avian Growth Plate Chondrocytes”; Dr. Angela R. Kamer, Assistant Professor of Periodontics, for “Role of Integrins & MMPs in Premalignant to Malignant Conversion”; and Dr. Yihong Li, Associate Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology and Director, International Research Collaboration, for “Genetic Diversity of Streptococcus Mutans in a Mother-Child Cohort.”
Dr. Teixeira’s grant will fund a pilot study that aims to explain the process by which cartilage evolves into endochondral bone. Cartilage cells (chondrocytes) at the ends of long bones are responsible for postnatal growth. These cells undergo a series of changes that lead to the gradual replacement of cartilage by bone. Understanding the mechanism responsible for this evolution could lead to new approaches for treating growth disorders and for accelerating fracture repair, and could contribute vital information to the fast-growing fields of cartilage and bone-tissue engineering.

Dr. Kamer’s grant, a pilot study that could lead to the development of new chemopreventive treatments for oral cancer, will examine the role of integrins (proteins that cells use to attach to other cells or extracellular material), and MMPs (enzymes that degrade various extracellular material) in the conversion of premalignant to malignant lesions.

Dr. Li’s grant will support a pilot study to identify the strains of an acid-forming bacteria found in dental plaque, mutans streptococci, that are most likely to cause caries. She will analyze more than 1,500 mutans streptococci samples to determine which strains survive and colonize in the oral cavities of young children. This research could ultimately lead to genetic tests to help identify children at risk for caries at an early age.