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12th Annual Student Research Showcase returns in person

Published: November 04, 2022 by Kyle Rogers

Dental students Jackson Valencia (middle left) was named the 2022 AADOCR Student Research Day Award recipient.
Dental students Jackson Valencia (middle left) was named the 2022 AADOCR Student Research Day Award recipient. Photo by Brian Schnupp.
Award winners from the 12th Annual Student Research Showcase.
Award winners from the 12th Annual Student Research Showcase. Photo by Brian Schnupp.
Prior to the 12th Annual Student Research Showcase, presenters gathered for a photo with alumna Dr. Rena D’Souza, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, who served as the event’s keynote speaker.
Prior to the 12th Annual Student Research Showcase, presenters gathered for a photo with alumna Dr. Rena D’Souza, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, who served as the event’s keynote speaker. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

The 12th Annual Student Research Showcase returned in person at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry with predoctoral and postdoctoral students presenting findings from the 2022 Summer Research Program in early November.

Taking place Nov. 1 in the Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS University Life Center, 48 posters were presented by 42 dental and six postgraduate students based on respective summer findings. Postgraduate students competed in a separate category for research trainees. Additionally, the six best submitted abstracts were selected for oral presentations, competing for top honor of the AADOCR Student Research Day Award, sponsored by the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research.

The 2022 William T. Butler Distinguished Lecture was delivered by alumna Rena D’Souza, MS, DDS, PhD, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health. Her topic was “Oral Health in America: Realizing the Promise of Science.”

D’Souza, who shared an overview of the NIDCR and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, expressed how the eyes of a clinician cannot be devalued. She said her spirit of discovery came from chair-side experiences with patients, and she challenged the students, as clinicians, to play a role in making dentistry a knowledge-creating profession, not just a knowledge-consuming one.

A total of 44 faculty members served as mentors and co-mentors during the 2022 Summer Research Program.

The Student Research Showcase award winners are as follows:

  • Best Abstract Award:
    • Applications of Radiology, AI, and Teledentistry: Maryam Baldawi, second-year dental student, “Caries Detection Performance Between a Deep-Learning Model and Human Subjects,” mentor: Chun-Teh Lee, DDS
    • Cancer and Craniofacial Biology: Amy Tran, first-year dental student, “Essential Roles of Parathyroid Hormone-related Protein (PTHrP) in the Formation of the Mandibular Condylar Cartilage,” mentor: Noriaki Ono, DDS, PhD
    • Improving Educational and Treatment Success: Parnian Salehi, fourth-year dental student, “Comparative Study of Prefabricated vs. Digitally Generated Zirconia Crowns for Primary Incisors,” mentor: Michelle Thompson, DDS
    • Improving Oral Health, Overall Health: Pooja Krishnaswamy, fourth-year dental student, “Assessment of Correlation Between Dementia and Periodontitis Using BigMouth Dental Data Repository,” mentor: Neha Parikh, PhD
    • Microbiology and Immunology: Brandon Pham, second-year dental student, “ACE2 Transcript Levels & SARS-CoV-2 Latency in Salivary Glands,” mentor: Danielle Wu, PhD
    • Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials, and Applications in Dentistry: Jackson Valencia, fourth-year dental student, “Role of Superimposition Basis on Evaluation of Accuracy of 3D-Printed Dental Models,” mentor: F. Kurtis Kasper, PhD
  • Best Poster Award:
    • Applications of Radiology, AI, and Teledentistry: Keaton Moore, second-year dental student, “Computer-Aided Diagnosis of Furcation Involvement with 3-D CBCT Imaging,” mentor: Chun-Teh Lee, DDS
    • Cancer and Craniofacial Biology: Aemin Kim, second-year dental student, “Characterizing Craniofacial Defects of Cholesterol Synthesis Genes, Sc5d and Dhcr7,” mentor: Junichi Iwata, DDS, PhD
    • Improving Educational and Treatment Success: Nicholas Tipton, fourth-year dental student, “Comparative Study of Prefabricated vs. Digitally Generated Zirconia Crowns for Primary Incisors,” mentor: Jennifer Chang, DDS, MSD
    • Improving Oral Health, Overall Health: Andrew Tran, third-year dental student, “Carboxylesterase and Ethanol Influence Hepatotoxicity of the Areca Nut Alkaloid, Arecoline,” mentor: Alan Myers, PharmD, PhD, RPh
    • Microbiology and Immunology: Julian Fernandez, first-year dental student, “Actinomyces and Fusobacterium Drive Co-aggregation in a Subgingival Biofilm Model,” mentor: Gena Tribble, PhD
    • Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials and Applications in Dentistry: Jinmin Kim, second-year dental student, “Effect of Model Support Method on Accuracy of Thermoformed Appliances,” mentor: F. Kurtis Kasper, PhD
    • Research Trainees: Yu Yin, Rice University visiting student/PhD candidate, “Microfluidics-Based Coaxial 3D Bioprinting of Hydrogels for Salivary Tissue Engineering,” mentor: Daniel Harrington, PhD
  • AADOCR Student Research Day Award: Jackson Valencia, fourth-year dental student

In addition to the student awards, Auco Dang, who was named director of administration for the School of Dentistry effective Oct. 1, 2021, was formally honored for her 13 years of service to the Office of Research. Her certificate of recognition noted her years of devoted service, tireless effort, and constant support to the Student Research Program and the Office of Research.

To close the award ceremony, Dean John A. Valenza, DDS, unveiled the UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, announcing D’Souza as the inaugural recipient.

Faculty judges for the poster presentations included: Jennifer Chang, DDS, MSD; Brett Chiquet, DDS, PhD; Walid Fakhouri, MSc, PhD; Deborah Franklin, DDS; David Fray, DDS; Leticia Guajardo, DDS; Daniel Harrington, PhD; Junichi Iwata, DDS, PhD; F. Kurtis Kasper, PhD; Chun-Teh Lee, DDS, DMSc; Yahuan Lou, PhD; Alan Myers, PharmD, PhD, RPh; Noriaki Ono, DDS, PhD; Joe Ontiveros, DDS, MS; Neha Parikh, PhD; Craig Pearl, DDS, MSD; Michelle Thompson, DDS; Ransome van der Hoeven, PhD; and Danielle Wu, PhD.

Judges for the oral presentations included Simon Young, DDS, MD, PhD, of the School of Dentistry; Yoshihiro Komatsu, PhD, of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston (Pediatrics); and Amy Moreno, MD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Radiation Oncology).

William T. Butler Distinguished Lectureship Fund
The William T. Butler Distinguished Lectureship Fund was established in 2018 to honor the legacy of Professor Emeritus William T. Butler, PhD, who served on the faculty at UTHealth School of Dentistry from 1987 until his retirement in 2004. With over 245 publications, he achieved international acclaim as an expert in mineralized tissue. Butler made many contributions to our understanding of bone and dentin matrix proteins. He is widely known in the biomedical sciences community for his landmark publication on the structure of collagen, a description that still remains in biochemistry textbooks to this day, and the co-discoverer of the bone matrix protein, osteopontin.

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