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Findings on display at 11th Annual Student Research Showcase

Published: January 18, 2022 by Kyle Rogers

Dr. Antonios Mikos
Antonios Mikos, PhD, of Rice University delivered the 2021 William T. Butler Distinguished Lecture, titled “Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering and Disease Modeling,” at the 11th Annual Student Research Showcase. Photo courtesy of Rice University.
Student Research Showcase award winners gather for a group photo with their certificates in the courtyard of the Denton A. Cooley, MD, and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS, University Life Center.
Student Research Showcase award winners gathered for a group photo with their certificates in the courtyard of the Denton A. Cooley, MD, and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS, University Life Center, on Thursday, Jan. 27. 2022. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

Predoctoral and postdoctoral students of UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry presented findings from the 2021 Summer Research Program during the 11th Annual Student Research Showcase in early December.

Taking place Dec. 3 via Cisco Webex, over 275 viewers tuned in for student oral presentations and the William T. Butler Distinguished Lecture, delivered this year by Antonios Mikos, PhD, Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University. His topic was “Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering and Disease Modeling.”

Mikos said biomaterials play an important role in the tissue engineering paradigm, not only in understanding the biology, but also in the development of new therapies for diseases and the formation of tissues.

Mikos’ research focuses on the synthesis, processing, and evaluation of new biomaterials for use as scaffolds for tissue engineering, carriers for controlled drug delivery, non-viral vectors for gene therapy, and platforms for disease modeling. His work has led to the development of novel orthopaedic, dental, cardiovascular, neurologic, and ophthalmologic biomaterials. In addition to authoring over 640 publications and 32 patents, he is among the top 1% of cited researchers in his field, being cited over 83,000 times with an h-index of 150.

Mikos, who also virtually attended the student oral presentations, took time after his presentation to answer questions and meet with attendees in a Webex breakout room.

“We’re thrilled with another successful Student Research Showcase,” said Ariadne Letra, DDS, PhD, professor and interim associate dean for research. “It’s always so rewarding to see the high-quality research our students and mentors are putting forth. We thank Dr. Mikos for an inspiring presentation highlighting his biomaterials research and its applications in restoring function and facilitating healing for people after injury or disease.”

In total, 42 dental and predental students submitted abstracts from their summer projects. Seven abstracts were assigned to each of the six categories for judging and reviewed by a panel of three faculty members. Submitters of the winning abstracts from each category presented their findings during the showcase.

The remaining students participated in poster competitions held virtually the week of the showcase with six winners being selected in the same respective categories. Postdoctoral candidates, graduate students, and research trainees competed in a separate category with one winner being chosen.

“I want to thank everyone who contributed to and participated in making the Student Research Showcase a success,” said Dharini van der Hoeven, MSc, PhD, associate professor and student research coordinator. “I’d also like to extend my congratulations to the competition winners and their mentors; this wouldn’t be possible without the earnest research desire of our students and the willingness of our faculty to provide guidance.”

The Student Research Showcase award winners are as follows:

  • Best Abstract Award:
    • Applications of Radiology: Omkar Patel, DS2, “Using Machine Learning to Diagnose Radiographic Furcation Involvement of Molars,” mentor: Jennifer Chang, DDS, MSD;
    • Cancer and Craniofacial Biology: Thanh Le, DS3, “Characterization of Sphingomyelin Biosynthetic Pathway Modulators as EGFR Inhibitors,” mentor: Dharini van der Hoeven, MSc, PhD;
    • Improving Delivery of Oral Health Care: Elvira Nworah, DS4, “A Study of the Oral Health Risk Assessment Value Index (OHRAVI) Instrument,” mentor: Shawn Adibi, DDS;
    • Improving Educational and Treatment Success: Dane Risinger, DS4, “Evaluating Dental Students’ Perspectives on the Synchronous Teaching of Didactic and Case-Based Courses,” mentors: Neha Parikh, PhD; and Dharini van der Hoeven, MSc, PhD;
    • Microbiology and Immunology: Ryan Lee, DS3, “Oxidative Stress Response in C. elegans is Mediated by the bZIP Transcription Factor ZIP-10,” mentor: Ransome van der Hoeven, PhD;
    • Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials, and Applications in Dentistry: Cara Zou, DS1, “Digital Image Analysis of 3D Structures for Salivary Tissue Engineering,” mentor: Daniel Harrington, PhD.
  • Best Poster Award:
    • Applications of Radiology: Mackenzie Clayton, DS3, “Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Clinical Decision Making of Dental Students,” mentor: Jennifer Chang, DDS, MSD;
    • Cancer and Craniofacial Biology: Amulya Gaddam, DS2, “Systematic Review of Genes Associated with Tooth Agenesis in Humans and Mice,” mentor: Junichi Iwata, DDS, PhD;
    • Improving Delivery of Oral Health Care: Tuyet Doan, DS3, “Evaluation of a Bio-Aerosol Sampling Technique for a Dental Clinic,” mentors: Maria A. Loza, DMD, MS; and Aaron Glick, DDS;
    • Improving Educational and Treatment Success: Ryan Fahmy, DS4, “Single Cone Obturation Technique Utilization in U.S. and Canada Based Predoctoral Endodontics Programs,” mentor: Leticia Guajardo, DDS;
    • Microbiology and Immunology: Ali Al Hatem, DS3, “Induction of Protective Mechanisms Against Mitis Group Streptococci,” mentor: Ransome van der Hoeven, PhD;
    • Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials, and Applications in Dentistry: Tyler Hanis, DS2, “Effect of Print Layer Height on the Dimensional Accuracy of 3D-Printed Dental Models Using Draft Resin,” mentor: F. Kurtis Kasper, PhD;
    • Graduate Students/Postdocs: Alen Trubelja, Rice University graduate visiting student, “Laser-Based Carving of Branched Salivary Gland Templates in Biomimetic Hydrogels,” mentor: Daniel Harrington, PhD.
    • AADOCR Student Research Day Award: Ryan Lee, DS3.

Faculty judges included Shawn Adibi, DDS; Srinivas Ayilavarapu, BDS, DSc, MDS; Avni Bhula, BDS, DDS, MSc (Dent); Brett Chiquet, DDS, PhD; Walid Fakhouri, MSc, PhD; David Fray, DDS; Aaron Glick, DDS; Junichi Iwata, DDS, PhD; Anita Joy-Thomas, BDS, PhD; Kurt Kasper, PhD; John Klein, PhD; Chun-Teh Lee, DDS, DMSc; Ariadne Letra, DDS, PhD; Yahuan Lou, PhD; Maria Loza, DMD; Rade Paravina, DDS, PhD; Kimberly Ruona, DDS; Oluwabunmi (Bunmi) Tokede, BDS, DMSc; Gena Tribble, PhD; Wanida Ono, DDS, DMSc, PhD; Noriaki Ono, DDS, PhD; Marilia Sly, DDS, MSD; and Ransome van der Hoeven, PhD.

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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