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Oral Biology PhD Program

Research Interests of Oral Biology Faculty (Listed by Program)

Host-Pathogen Interactions

Antonio Ameilo, Assistant Professor, Dental Ecology Lab applies an interdisciplinary approach to understand the mechanisms underlying the development of oral, head and neck cancers. To this end, we are investigating the signaling pathways that drive mucoepidermoid carcinoma of teh salivary gland and oral squamous cell carcinoma using a combination of bioinformatics, animal models and and molecular genetic analyses.

Roland R. Arnold, Professor, Diagnostic Sciences 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; PhD, Biological Sciences, University of Campinas, 1995, DDS, Dentistry, University of Campinas, 1986; Periodontal Disease, inflammation, bacterial infections, biofilm.

Asma Khan, Assistant Professor, Endodontics; PhD, University of Maryland, 2002; Certificate, Endodontics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2006; BDS, Dentistry, Gulbarga University, 1993. Neurochemical and Immune Factors in Injury and Inflammation; mechanical allodynia; endodontic pain. (Also associated with Orofacial Neurobiology Training Area)

Samuel Lai, Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy, PhD Johns Hopkins University 2007. BS Cornell University, 2003 The Lai Lab utilizes a variety of biophysical, biochemical and computational approaches to elucidate a novel and exceptionally potent mechanism of mucosal immunity based on transient antibody-mucin interactions.  In addition to better understanding the dynamic and intricate interactions between pathogens, mucus, the host's adaptive immune system and mucosal microbiota, we are also developing improved methods to block infectious diseases via immunoprophylaxis and vaccines that better harness antibody-mucin interactions.

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)

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.

Flavia Teles, DDS, MS, DMScResearch Associate Professor, Dept. of Periodontology. Research is primarly dedicated to oral microbiology and to better understand how microorganisms contribute to the pathogenesis of periodontal diseases. She is particularly interested in the uncultivated and unrecognized segment of teh oral microbiome. Dr. Teles' research also explores the association between the oral microbiome and carcinogenesis.

Ricardo Teles, OraPharma Distinguish Professor, Periodontology; DMS, Oral Biology, Certificate of Periodontology, Harvard, 1996, DDS Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 1988. Focuses of research is to examine in vivo the interplay between subgingival polymicrobial biofilms and mediators of the immuno-inflamatory host response.

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; DDS, New York University, PhD, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC 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; PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1999; Coordinated Regulation of P. aeruginosa Virulence, Regulated Synthesis of cAMP, cAMP degradation and transport, cAMP independent host detection networks.

Zhi Liu, Professor, Dermatology; PhD, Wisconsin Medical College, Milwaukee, WI. Structure and functions of the hemidesmosome, human skin autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, Preclinical studies and drug discovery for autoimmune/inflammatory diseases.

Scott Williams, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pathology, PhD, M Phil, MA Columbia University 2005, Stem cell and cancer biology in skin epithelium, investigations of pathways that influence epithelial differentiation.

Andrea Zandona, Associate Professor, Operative Dentistry, PhD, Preventive Dentistry, Indiana, 1997; MSD Operative Dentistry, Indiana University, 1994; DDS, Dentistry, Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, 1990. Cariology: early caries detection, caries activity, caries risk assessment, oral biofilm and dental caries, caries prevention.

Qing Zhang, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; PhD University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine 2005 Hypoxia and oxygen sensing pathway in cancer and other related disease. Mitochondrial and tumor metabolism in cancer.  Chromosomal instability in cancer.

Pain Neurobiology

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

Greg K. Essick, Professor, Prosthodontics; PhD North Carolina, 1983, DDS North Carolina, 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; PhD, Psychology, Brown University, 1973; Mechanisms of Sensory Processing in Fibromyalgia; behavioral measures of discrimination performance and averseness; functional neuro-imagining; mechanisms of intensity and affective processing.

Asma Khan, Assistant Professor, Endodontics; PhD, University of Maryland, 2002; Certificate, 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; MS, Orofacial Pain, University of Kentucky, 2004 BDS, 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; PhD., Iowa, 1982, DDS. 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, Associate Professor, Endodontics and Pharmacology; PhD, University of Georgia, 2003. Functional pain genetics; pain neurobiology and signaling; pain biomarker discovery.

Gary Slade, Professor, Dental Ecology; PhD, Dentistry, University of Adelaide, 1994, DPh Public Health, University of Toronto, 1988, BDS Dentistry, University of Melbourne, 1982. Epidemiologic basis of acute and chronic pain.

Shad Smith, Research Assistant Professor, Endodontics; PhD, 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; MS, Biochemistry, Moscow Medical University, 1988, MD, Medicine, Moscow Medical University, 1988 genetic variability contributing to pain sensitivity, therapeutic targets for pain management, molecular mechanisms of gene expression in pain sensitivity.

Mark Tommerdahl, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, UNC-CH/NCSU. PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics, UNC Chapel Hill, 1989. Somatosensory Cortical Dynamics and Neurocomputation in Living Neural Networks.

Denniz Zolnoun, Associate Professor, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology; MD University of Illinois MPH UNC 2002; Quantitative and qualitative measurement of Pelvic Pain; Mechanisms of post-surgical Pelvic Pain.

Mark Zylka, Associate Professor, Dept. of Cell Biology and Physiology; PhD Harvard 1999 Molecules and mechanisms for pain; Angelman Syndrome therapies.

Skeletal Biology and Extracellular Matrices

Sompop Bencharit, Assistant Professor, Prosthodontics; PhD, Oral Biology, UNC-CH, 2003, MDS, Prosthodontics, UNC, 1999, Certificate, Prosthodontics, UNC, 1999, Graduate Diploma, Prosthodontics, Chulalongkorn University, 1996, DDS, Dentistry, 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; PhD, 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; PhD, Genetics, University of North Carolina, 1999, Certification, Orthodontics, University of North Carolina, 1997, DDS, Dentistry, 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, PhD, Bioen & Biomaterials, University of Michigan, 1994, MS, Bioengineering, National Yang-Ming University, 1989, DDS, Dentistry, 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), 2142 Burlington Nuclear Engineering Laboratories, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7115. Biomedical Engineering including Biomaterials, Biomechanics, Cytomechanics, Functional Tissue Engineering, Modeling in Mechanobiology, Musculoskeletal Biomechanics, Tissue Mechanics.

Ceib Phillips, Professor, Dept. of Orthodontics; MPH UNC-CH 1990, PhD University of Wisconsin at Madison 1976, BS University of Wisconsin at Madison. Development and use of reliable imaging biomarkers for the assessment of craniofacial morphology; biostatistical applications and data management of clinical trials.

Lola M. Reid, Professor, Cell and Molecular Physiology; Ph.D., UNC-CH. 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.

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. in 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; PhD UNC-CH 1984; 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.