Bulletin of Dental Education

Research Ramps Up at Oregon Health & Science University SOD

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Hui Wu, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Research

The coronavirus pandemic caused the shutdown of scientific research labs across the country. The Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry’s (OHSU SOD) research labs are currently reopening under a new Associate Dean of Research, Hui Wu, Ph.D. In March 2020, he came to OHSU SOD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry (UAB SOD). Dr. Wu’s research interests lie in the study of bacterial biofilms and small molecule inhibitors of bacterial biofilms. Through his work, he has discovered a new bacterial protein glycosylation and secretion system. Dr. Wu’s lab has also developed a new class of small molecules that target pathogenic biofilms. Dr. Wu is an active researcher with over 80 peer-reviewed articles published by influential scientific journals in the field. In 2011, he received IADR/GSK Innovation in Oral Care Award and was selected as a recipient of the 2014 UAB SOD Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship. The American Academy of Microbiology elected him a Fellow in 2020. 

As Associate Dean, he plans to serve and promote investigators carrying out the vital research done throughout the OHSU SOD. “Two important things going forward are retaining the best talent and continual growth,” says Dr. Wu. “My goals are to encourage cutting-edge investigation, create more collaborative opportunities, develop additional research training, and build our team of diverse and innovative researchers.” Dr. Wu is thrilled to be a part of and contribute to OHSU’s internationally ranked research community.

Carmem Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomaterials and Biomechanics

The work done in the school’s labs bring to light amazing discoveries that are elevating dental health care. Scientists contribute to several areas of study, including, but not limited to, the synthesis and development of new biomaterials, cell and developmental biology, and oral microbiology and immunology.

Recently, two labs have been awarded the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s (NIDCR) Award for Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) R35 grants. Dr. Wu is excited about the discoveries from these two funded labs. Pfeifer Lab, led by Carmem Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomaterials and Biomechanics, is developing a filling material that is two times more resistant to breakage than standard fillings.

Justin L. Merritt, Ph.D.
Professor of Restorative Dentistry

Merritt Lab, led by Justin L. Merritt, Ph.D., Professor of Restorative Dentistry, is researching the roles of polymicrobial synergy and dysbiosis in human health and disease using microbial ecology and genetics approaches and developing novel precision strategies targeting bacteria. Clinical and translational research also takes root in the OHSU SOD. Professor-Provisional and Director of Advanced Education in Orthodontics, Jeffrey Nickel, D.M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., and Professor-Provisional and Department Chair of Orthodontics, Laura Iwasaki, D.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., are exploring the mechanobehavior of individuals and its influence on mandibular growth and facial types, which could enable the development of evidence-based dentofacial orthopedic therapies.

For more information about the OHSU SOD’s Office of Research, please visit ohsu.edu/school-of-dentistry/office-research. If you are interested in contacting Dr. Wu to discuss the research being done at the School or talk about possible opportunities for collaboration, please contact him via email at wuhu@ohsu.edu.

Courtesy of Anastasia Bennett, Communications Specialist, Oregon Health & Science University SOD

Published on July 8, 2020

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