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Department News - December 2011/January 2012

Biomedical Sciences


Puri J, Bellinger LL, Kramer PR. Estrogen in cycling rats alters gene expression in the temporomandibular joint, trigeminal ganglia and trigeminal subnucleus caudalis/upper cervical cord junction. Journal of Cellular Physiology 2011; 226:3169-80.

A summary of the study appeared in the November issue of TMJ News Bites, a newsletter of The TMJ Association Ltd., as follows:

The typical profile of patients with TM disorders is of women in their childbearing years. This means that they experience fluctuating levels of estrogen in the bloodstream, depending upon the phase of the menstrual cycle, with estrogen levels highest near ovulation.

Researchers studying an experimental TMJ pain model in rats have noted that pain in these female animals appears to be reduced in the preovulatory phase when estrogen levels are highest.

A team of scientists, headed by Dr. Philip Kramer at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, have screened animals' nerve tissue that supplies sensation to the TM joint area to see whether there are specific genes which are turned on in response to stimulation by estrogen. (There are estrogen receptors in the nerve tissue of interest.)

Their article cites two genes in particular which code for proteins that can reduce pain signals from the joint area and which are more active — gene expression is increased — in response to estrogen. In continuing studies, the researchers are manipulating expression of these genes to see how changes in gene activity affect the animals’ pain behavior and whether this is, in fact, the mechanism by which estrogen affects responses to pain.


Six students have completed their master’s and doctorate degree requirements and officially graduated in December. Drs. Ashneet Sachar and Julia Chang earned doctorate degrees. Sachar’s dissertation is titled “Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Interactions on 3D Nanofibrous Gelatin Scaffolds.” She plans to return to India to look for a position in New Delhi that will allow her to use her scientific and clinical skills. Chang will seek a faculty position. Her dissertation is titled “Fibroblast Growth Factor Signaling in Odontogenic Epithelial Stem Cells.”

Four students received their master’s degrees, including Dr. Veera Malavia and three oral pathology residents: Drs. Leticia Ferreira, Pavithra Pugalagiri and Mohammed Mansour.

Malavia is now attending dental school in Florida. The title of her thesis project is “Comparing Regenerate Produced from Dentate vs. Edentulous Transport Discs in Bone Transport Distraction Osteogenesis of the Mandible.”

Ferreira’s thesis project is “Salivary Biomarkers Cyfra 21-1, CA125 and TPS in Oral Lichen Planus Patients.” She has accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Oral Surgery and Pathology at the University of Mississippi. Pugalagiri’s thesis is titled “Nuclear Translation of E-cadherin in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” She will remain at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry until she finishes her residency. Mansour’s thesis project is titled “Sarcoidosis and Sjögren’s Syndrome: a Comparison of Electrophoretic Profiles of Salivary Proteins.”




Dr. Miles Beach recently was elected chair of the American Academy of Periodontology’s Predoctoral Program Directors Organization, which meets every year during the AAP Annual Meeting, according to the academy website. The organization was created as an outlet to discuss periodontal education and private practice issues, as well as to foster communication among educators within the academy.


Public Health Sciences


Dr. Kenneth Bolin participated in a special gathering of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called “Legacy and Innovation: Improving Oral Health for ALL Children.” Bolin helped facilitate a group discussion for the conference, which was Nov. 9-10 at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel. The conference discussions centered on how to build momentum among oral health professionals, community leaders and the public to improve oral health of vulnerable children and families.


Rogers TC, Zaninovic P, Urankar YR, Natto ZS, Turner RL, Toledo GA, Duran GG, Trott JR. An innovative HIV training program for dental students. Journal of Dental Education 2011 November; 75(11):1426-1433.


Restorative Sciences


Dr. Brent Hutson presented “Evaluation and Management of the Medically Complex Patient” Sept. 10, 2011, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Nov. 9, 2011, as an invited speaker at the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.


Dr. Brent Hutson was promoted to the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Hutson also was APPLY board selected as commanding officer in the 4th Dental Company, 4th Dental Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, where he assumed command Dec. 1, 2011.