Adding to the depth of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine’s (Penn Dental Medicine) research enterprise is a recent faculty recruit to the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. Songtao Shi, Ph.D., D.D.S., a highly respected researcher and educator, joined Penn Dental Medicine this fall.
Dr. Shi comes to Penn Dental Medicine from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California (OSD USC), where he served as Professor within the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology. He first joined the OSD USC in 2006 as Assistant Professor, advancing to Tenured Associate Professor in 2008. Prior to joining the faculty at OSD USC, he served as a Principal Investigator and Clinical Fellow for nine years at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Shi earned his D.D.S. and M.S. at Peking University School of Stomatology and holds a Ph.D. in Craniofacial Biology from OSD USC.
Dr. Shi leads an accomplished research program that focuses on the characterization of human mesenchymal stem cells and the relationship between mesenchymal stem cells and orofacial diseases at the molecular and cellular levels. Along with his collaborators, his lab has isolated and identified several new populations of mesenchymal stem cells, including dental pulp stem cells, stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth, periodontal ligament stem cells, stem cells from apical papilla and tendon stem/progenitor cells. These discoveries enable further investigations of these oral-tissue-derived stem cells and their use in tissue engineering, disease modeling and clinical treatment.
Dr. Shi and his colleagues were the first to use mesenchymal stem cells to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and periodontitis and to regenerate pulp tissue in patients. Dr. Shi was recognized for his research activities with the 2013 International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award for Pulp Biology and Regeneration.
“Highly collaborative, Dr. Shi has extensive connections internationally, particularly in China,” says Denis Kinane, B.D.S., Ph.D., Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “He brings a passion for science and teaching that I know will contribute greatly to our research and educational efforts across disciplines.”