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Oral Biology PhD Program


Research Interests of Oral Biology Faculty (Listed by Program)


Host-Pathogen Interactions

Roland R. Arnold, Professor, Diagnostic Sciences and and General Dentistry; Ph.D., Louisiana State University, 1975. Host-pathogen interactions in periodontal diseases, lactoferrin, neutrophil function, secretory immunity, host-microbial biology, specific and innate host defense factors.

Sylvana Barros, Associate Professor, Periodontology;  Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Campinas, 1995; D.D.S., University of Campinas, 1986. Periodontal Disease, inflammation, bacterial infections, biofilm.

Miriam Braunstein, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology;  Ph.D., Princeton University, 1996. Protein Export Pathways of M. tuberculosis, exported Proteins of M. tuberculosis, M. tuberculosis pathogenesis.

Thomas Kawula, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill; M.S., University of Idaho. 1986. Molecular basis for bacterial pathogenesis, genetic analysis and approaches for study of certain pathogens and infectivity mechanisms (Haemophilus ducreyi and Francisella tularensis).

Christian Jobin, Associate Professor, Medicine; Ph.D., Universite Laval, 1994. Bacteria/host response, innate signal transduction, innate signal transduction.

Asma Khan, Assistant Professor, Endodontics;  Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2002; Certificate, Endodontics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2006;  B.D.S., Dentistry, Gulbarga University, 1993. Neurochemical and immune factors in injury and inflammation, mechanical allodynia, endodontic pain. Also associated with Orofacial Neurobiology Training Area.

Glenn Matsushima, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, and Research Scientist, UNC Neuroscience Center; Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1988. Neuroimmunology and inflammation in the central nervous system using molecular and cellular approaches to study the regulation of macrophages. Also associated with Orofacial Neurobiology Training Area.

Salvadore Nares, Assistant Professor, Periodontology; Certificate, Periodontics, Baylor College of Dentistry, 2002; Ph.D., Baylor College of Dentistry, 2001; D.D.S., Baylor College of Dentistry, 1997. Periodontal disease, inflammation, microRNA, immune regulation.

Steven Offenbacher, Professor, Periodontology; Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth, 1977; D.D.S., Virginia Commonwealth, 1976; M.M.Sc., Harvard, 1980. Inflammatory mediators, host response, periodontal diseases, smokeless tobacco, oral and enteric endotoxins, relationships of inflammatory mediators and periodontal diseases to low birth weights and risks in pregnancy outcomes and as risk factors in cardiovascular diseases.

Nancy Raab-Traub, Kenan Distinguished Professor, Microbiology & Immunology; Ph.D., Chicago. Pathogenesis of Epstein-Barr virus, EBV gene expression and structural analyses, EBV-associated lymphomas.

Robert Tarran, Assistant Professor, Medicine; Ph.D., University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, UK. Ion channels, CFTR, cystic fibrosis, SPLUNC1.

Jenny Ting, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; Ph.D., Northwestern, Chicago, Illinois. Molecular immunology, tumor immunology, neuroimmunology, transplantation biology, and transcriptional regulation including regulation of major histocompatibility (MHC) genes by cytokines such as interferons and tumor necrosis factors, study of MHC function in diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, gene regulation. Also associated with Orofacial Neurobiology Training Area.

Roland Tisch, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; Ph.D., Toronto, Canada, 1987. Immunology, inflammation, diabetes, T-cell biology, molecular mechanisms in development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, therapeutic intervention in autoimmunity.

Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, Associate Professor, Dental Ecology; D.D.S., New York University; Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1998. Oral manifestations of systemic disease, host-virus interactions, viral oncogenesis, viral pathogenesis during immunosuppression, signal transduction, cellular biology and gene expression.

Matthew Wolfgang, Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology and the UNC Cystic Fibrosis Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center; Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1999. Coordinated regulation of P. aeruginosa Virulence, regulated synthesis of cAMP, cAMP degradation and transport, cAMP independent host detection networks.

Zhi Liu, Professor, Dermatology; Ph.D., Wisconsin Medical College. Structure and functions of the hemidesmosome, human skin autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, preclinical studies and drug discovery for autoimmune/inflammatory diseases.

Pain Neurobiology

Eric Bair, Assistant Professor, Endodontics and Biostatistics;  Ph.D., Stanford University, 2004.  Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, Data Mining, Genetic Loci analysis, Pain and sensory mechanisms. 

Hong Chen, Clinical Assistant Professor, Endodontics; M.S., University of Minnesota, 2006. Clinical Pain treatment, pain management, pain and sensory mechanisms.

Luda Diatchenko, Professor, Endodontics;  Ph.D., National Cardiology Research Center, 1993. Identification of critical elements of human genetic variability contributing to pain sensitivity and pathophysiological pain states, identification of therapeutic targets for pain management, studying molecular hierarchy of functional SNPs commonly present in human population, studying the molecular mechanisms of gene expression regulation.

Greg K. Essick, Professor, Prosthodontics; Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1983; D.D.S., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1979. Somatosensory and motor research: neural mechanisms, tactile psychophysics with emphasis on normal and abnormal orofacial sensation. Impact of experimental and pathological pain on tactile information processing and perception.

Richard Gracely, Professor, Endodontics;  Ph.D., Psychology, Brown University, 1973.  Mechanisms of Sensory Processing in Fibromyalgia, behavioral measures of discrimination performance and aversiveness, functional neuro-imagining, mechanisms of intensity and affective processing. 

Asma Khan, Assistant Professor, Endodontics;  Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2002; Certificate, Endodontics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2006; B.D.S., Dentistry, Gulbarga University, 1993. Neuro-immune interactions, persistent post-operative pain, and mechanical allodynia in orofacial pain patients. Also associated with Host-Pathogens Interactions Training Area.

Pei-Feng Lim, Assistant Professor, Endodontics; M.S., Orofacial Pain, University of Kentucky, 2004; B.D.S., Dentistry, National University of Singapore, 1995. Clinical measurements of chronic and acute pain, pain management.

William Maixner, Director, Center for Neurosensory Disorders; Professor, Endodontics and Pharmacology; Ph.D., Iowa, 1982; D.D.S., Iowa, 1983. Translational Pain Research.

Glenn Matsushima, Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1988. Neuroimmunology and inflammation in the central nervous system using molecular and cellular approaches to study the regulation of macrophages. Also associated with Host-Pathogens Interactions Training Area.

Andrea G. Nackley-Neely, Associate Professor, Endodontics and Pharmacology; Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2003. Functional pain genetics, pain neurobiology and signaling, pain biomarker discovery.

Shad Smith, Research Assistant Professor, Endodontics; Ph.D., Psychology, McGill University, 2006. Pain neurobiology and signaling, molecular mechanisms of pain sensation, psychological markers of pain sensitivity, pain biomarker discovery.

Inna Tchivilena, Research Assistant Professor, Endodontics; M.S., Biochemistry, Moscow Medical University, 1988; M.D., Medicine, Moscow Medical University, 1988. Genetic variability contributing to pain sensitivity, therapeutic targets for pain management, molecular mechanisms of gene expression in pain sensitivity.

Jenny Ting, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; Ph.D., Northwestern, Chicago, Illinois. Molecular immunology, tumor immunology, neuroimmunology, transplantation biology, and transcriptional regulation including regulation of major histocompatibility (MHC) genes by cytokines such as interferons and tumor necrosis factors, study of MHC function in diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, gene regulation. Also associated with Host-Pathogens Interactions Training Area.

Mark Tommerdahl, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, UNC-Chapel Hill/ North Carolina State University; Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1989. Somatosensory Cortical Dynamics and Neurocomputation in Living Neural Networks.

Skeletal Biology and Extracellular Matrices

Sompop Bencharit, Assistant Professor, Prosthodontics;  Ph.D., Oral Biology, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2003; M.D.S., Prothodontics, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1999; Certificate, Prosthodontics, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1999; Graduate Diploma, Prosthodontics, Chulalongkorn University, 1996; D.D.S., Chulalongkorn University, 1994. Structure and function of vascular and osteoblastic stem cells, systematic responses to dental implants and xenobiotics, structure of scaffold and adapter proteins in vascular biology.   

Lyndon F. Cooper, Professor, Prosthodontics and Biochemistry and Biophysics; D.D.S., New York University, 1983; Ph.D., Rochester, 1990. Stress determinants in osteoblast physiology, molecular determinants of osseointegration in dental implants.

Eric Everett, Professor, Pediatric Dentistry and Genetics; Ph.D., Medical University of South Carolina, 1993. Genetic determinants of dental fluorosis, non-syndromic cleft palate in mice, genetic background influences fluoride's effects on osteoclastogenesis, bisphosphonate and fluoride treatments, quantitative trait Loci in mice.

Sylvia Frazier-Bowers, Associate Professor, Orthodontics; Ph.D., Genetics, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1999; Certification, Orthodontics, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1997; D.D.S., University of Illinois, 1993. Mechanism and control of tooth eruption, genetic linkage analysis in dentofacial phenotypes, dentofacial malocclusions.

Ching-Chang Ko, Professor, Orthodontics and Biomedical Engineering; Certificate, Orthodontics, University of Minnesota, 2006; Ph.D., Bioen & Biomaterials, University of Michigan, 1994; M.S., Bioengineering, National Yang-Ming University, 1989; D.D.S., Kashsiung Medical University, 1984. Elastic properties of human edentulous maxilla and mandible, physical properties of jawbone and dental implants, stability measurement of dental implants.

Elizabeth Loboa, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, North Carolina State University (Adjunct appointment). Biomedical engineering including biomaterials, biomechanics, cytomechanics, functional tissue engineering, modeling in mechanobiology, musculoskeletal biomechanics, tissue mechanics.

Yuji Mishina, Associate Professor, Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, University of Michigan (Adjunct appointment); Ph.D. Biology of bone morphogenetic proteins/receptors, signaling, bone development using conventional and conditional gene knockout technologies.

Lola M. Reid, Professor, Cell and Molecular Physiology; Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill. Regulation of synthesis and abundance of tissue-specific mRNA's by cooperative effects of hormones and extracellular matrix, especially heparin proteoglycans; identification, isolation, and regulation of growth and differentiation of liver stem cells and related precursor cell populations.

Mathew Rebindo, Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics; Department Chair
Structural Studies of Dynamic Cellular Processes; Ph.D.  UCLA, 1995. Human orphan receptors PXR, early evolution of nuclear receptor structure, structure and function of both ligand-binding and DNA-binding domains of nuclear receptors.

John Timothy Wright, Distinguished Professor, Pediatric Dentistry; D.D.S., West Virginia, 1978; M.S., Alabama at Birmingham, 1983. Developmental defects of teeth, mineralization of dental tissues, genetic disorders of teeth, extracellular matrices in dental tissues in states of disease and health, molecular control of tooth formation.

Mitsuo Yamauchi, Distinguished Professor, Periodontology; Ph.D., Biochemistry, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1983; D.D.S., Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1976. Collagen biochemistry, development and matrix mineralization of bone, matrix biology, maturation and aging of connective tissues.

Heather Yeowell, Professor of Dermatology, Duke University; Ph.D.,  UNC-Chapel Hill1984. Connective tissue disease, collagen biosynthesis, dermal fibroblasts, collagen crosslinking, lysyl hydroxylase (LH), expression and regulation of LH isoforms, Ehlers Danlos syndrome type VI, mutational analysis, baculovirus expression systems.