A Day of Excellence for the School of Dentistry

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cole Hall and Millberry Union were packed on Oct. 12 as the UCSF School of Dentistry celebrated its 14th Research and Clinical Excellence Day.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Daniel Lowenstein made a case for healthcare researchers’ importance on par with clinicians. Namely, to answer the questions that have yet to be answered. There remains a tremendous amount that we do not understand about the needs of our patients, he said, which is what necessitates continued discovery and innovation.

Guest lecturer Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, interested the crowd with a revelation about new molecular imaging techniques for cancer.

The School of Dentistry’s moment of awe came from the suggestion that photoacoustic imaging may be used in place of a periodontal probe to measure gum pockets in the future.

Event organizers gave a tribute to John C. Greene, the Dean Emeritus who contributed to UCSF’s rise in the research world. In the words of John S. Greenspan, Professor Emeritus, Greene’s leadership paved the School of Dentistry’s move from the top one-third of dental schools to the top few.

Greene was instrumental in the creation of the Oral Hygiene Index, a system to monitor oral health in a patient over time. He was also known for working to eliminate discrimination in dental care against patients with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco.

Students gave oral presentations on their summer research projects on topics ranging from imaging techniques for diagnosing early tooth decay to the effects of acculturation on caries treatment and the properties and origins of salivary stones.

This year’s faculty award went to Stuart Gansky, professor and Lee Hysan chair of oral epidemiology.

Gansky told the crowd about his journey to UCSF and his work in the Center to Address Disparities in Oral Health (CAN DO), which aims to understand and improve the oral health of those most in need.

Gansky explained that he accepted a teaching offer from UCSF over a government job offer due to the political climate of the time, subsequently moving to San Francisco from the East Coast. One of Gansky’s first studies in CAN DO was centered on early childhood caries risk prediction methods.

The Mentor of the Year Awards were presented to Chelsea Bahney, assistant professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery, and Sarah Anne Wong, a student in the oral and craniofacial sciences graduate program.

Student awards were presented by category to the following individuals and projects:

Research Associate Category

1st place: Ruchi Goyal, Natural caries lesions treated by polymer-induced liquid-precursor process (PILP) in vitro

Postdoctoral Category

1st place: Sarah Engelberth, Self-assembly of amelogenin nanostructures in simulated enamel fluid

Graduate Category

1st place: Sarah Anne Wong, Wnt/beta-catenin signaling regulates chondrocyte-to-osteoblast transformation during endochondral repair

2nd place: Shaun Abrams, A primary cilia transition zone complex coordinates midfacial development

3rd place: Devon Cooper, Interprofessional oral health education improves knowledge, confidence, and practice for pediatric healthcare providers

Predoctoral Category

1st place: Hailey Taylor, Oral microbiome and anthropometry changes following caries arrest using silver-nitrate/fluoride-varnish

2nd place: Brett Parks, Nisin-producing Lactococcus lactis decreases biofilm formation and disrupts preformed biofilms; Wilson Ng, Near-infrared imaging detects demineralization on stained occlusal surfaces (400-2200nm); Rae Sesanto, Recurrent IDH1-R132H mutation in cancers confers gain of pH sensing

3rd place: Vida Bao, The mixed trajectory of the feminization of U.S. dentistry; Hoorshad Fathi-Kelly, Functional remineralization of dentin lesions using PILP-releasing glass-ionomer cements

The fact that many of the category awards were presented to multiple students spoke to the excellence of this year’s research projects and presentations. This year’s Research and Clinical Excellence Day inspired many incoming dental students to take advantage of the resources at UCSF and participate in the incredible research being done here.