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Dental school receives grants totaling $5.8 million

July 31st, 2007

The University of Louisville School of Dentistry recently received grants and awards totaling $5.8 million for research related to periodontal disease and birth defects.

“These grants and awards bring funding for important, meaningful research at UofL but they also mean real money contributed to the local economy and, down the line, saved for the health care system. These researchers’ achievements help us be accountable to our constituents,” UofL President James Ramsey said at a news conference July 31.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a subgroup of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the school four grants for research related to periodontal disease, a common, destructive disease of the supporting structures of the teeth.

“These grants — especially notable given the current negative trend in research funding — tell a story about our standing in the research community,” said acting Dean Wood Currens. “Our School of Dentistry is now ranked 17th out of 56 dental schools for NIH funding. We were 33rd in 2001. These new grants will help us continue our way up that scale and move us closer to the university’s overall goal of being one of the country’s top 20 research institutions.”

NIDCR also has given Dashzeveg Bayarsaihan, a dental school researcher, an Independent Scientist Award, underwriting his salary as he investigates molecular causes of birth defects. NIDCR’s Independent Scientist Award is typically awarded to young researchers in their formative years. By covering their salaries, the award allows them to focus specifically on research.

In the United States, more than $14 billion is spent yearly on treatment of periodontal disease. Research findings could help reduce those expenditures and advance understanding and treatment possibilities for associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease, sepsis (a severe immune reaction to infection that can be fatal) and preterm births. One of every 600 babies born each year has a craniofacial defect. Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality worldwide.

Recent UofL School of Dentistry Grants and Awards
Denis Kinane, Pinpointing susceptibility to periodontal disease, $1.9 million over five years
George Hajishengallis, Periodontal disease and the aging immune system, $1.6 million over five years
Michael Martin, The role of inflammation in immune protection, $1.4 million over five years
David Scott, Diagnosing periodontal disease, $380,000 over two years
Dashzeveg Bayarsaihan, Molecular causes of birth defects, $477,000 over five years

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