Bulletin of Dental Education

UCLA SOD Reflects on a Legacy of Research During its Golden Anniversary

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UCLA SOD LogoThe University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry (UCLA SOD) celebrated its 50-year anniversary during the 2014–15 fiscal year. During that time, UCLA SOD has made major strides in education, research, patient care and public service as a leading dental education institute. Above all, UCLA SOD has successfully achieved its research mission through the establishment of several Centers of Research in the areas of cancer/aging, salivary diagnostics, regenerative medicine, microbiology and molecular genetics, and health services. Endowed chairs and faculty members have made many important discoveries over the years, the highlights of which are below.

Wenyuan Shi, Ph.D., led a group of faculty that developed an antimicrobial technology called STAMP (specifically targeted anti-microbial peptide) that works to kill the bad bacteria that cause cavities. Unlike conventional mouthwash and the other antibiotics on the market, it does not disturb the benign and beneficial bacteria in the mouth. This results in a microbial community structure that supports better oral health. This STAMP, known as C16G2, is being developed for use in preventing tooth decay and cavities under an investigational new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials. Beyond the oral health benefits, however, this technology has even greater medical implications—a target-specific antimicrobial has the potential to combat systemic diseases that affect other parts of the body.

Another group of faculty members, led by David Wong, D.M.D., a pioneer of salivary diagnostic research and Felix and Mildred Yip Endowed Professor, is investigating biological markers in saliva to attempt to develop a tool for detecting various systemic diseases. The outcome of this research could supply concrete evidence that saliva can be used in the detection of life-threatening diseases, including diabetes and cancers of the pancreas, breasts, ovaries and stomach.

Cun-Yu Wang, D.D.S., Ph.D., No-Hee Park Endowed Chair, is leading a group of faculty members in the development a novel therapeutic agent that could slow down bone loss, regenerate lost bone and inhibit the inflammation associated with osteoporosis and aging-related bone diseases. His group previously found that a growth factor called Wnt4, which is secreted into the bone marrow, could promote bone formation. In a more recent study, they discovered that Wnt4 is also effective in preventing bone loss from osteoporosis and skeletal aging in mice.

In fiscal year 2013–14, the UCLA SOD received more than $25 million in research contracts and grants from the federal government and private sectors—the most in its history. Endowed chairs are also an important source of research support. UCLA SOD now has 10 endowed chairs, which were created to attract and retain the very best faculty members, allowing the school to further its research mission.

Publishing on August 12, 2015.
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