A $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health has been awarded to a periodontist from the SIU School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Nathalia Garcia secured the funding that will allow the school to participate in a multi-center study entitled Biomarkers of Periodontal Disease Progression.
Garcia will be overseeing 60 patients and working with colleagues, including Dr. Douglas Miley, professor of periodontics and implant dentistry and director of the Advanced Program in Periodontics; Dr. Debra Dixon, associate professor and section head of diagnostic sciences; and Dr. M. Jane Gillespie, section head of microbiology and former director of research at the SDM. Three dedicated dental hygienists and a molecular biologist will also participate.
The project will attempt to find shared biomarkers, or indicative characteristics, of the progression of periodontal disease in test subjects, exploring the disease from microbiological, genetic and immunological perspectives. As the study continues, these biomarkers, as well as microbial species found in the subjects, will be compared with measurements of the effects of dental therapy on these recorded characteristics.
Dr. Bruce Rotter, Dean of the SIU SDM says the group has a few things they hope to accomplish through this study. The project includes a total of 500 subjects who will participate at five different dental research centers across the country. Those facilities include the Forsythe Institute in Cambridge Massachusetts, the SIU SDM, the University of Michigan, New York University, and State University of New York.
Approximately 64.7 million Americans suffer from an advanced form of periodontal disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Garcias work could lead to new insights and advancements that would affect the long-term health of nearly half of adults in the U.S.
The SIU School of Dental Medicine students manage approximately 35,000 patient visits each year at its patient clinics in Alton and East St. Louis. In addition, students offer oral health treatment, screenings and education to more than 10,000 people annually through a wide variety of off-campus community outreach events. These opportunities provide students the training they need to graduate and become highly skilled dentists. The School of Dental Medicine is a vital oral health care provider for residents of southern and central Illinois, and the St. Louis metropolitan region.