NYU Dentistry Professor Awarded Five-Year, $2M NIH Grant to Study Cellular Processes Responsible for Generating Sensory Organs


The National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology Jean-Pierre Saint-Jeannet, PhD, a five-year, $2M grant to study the cellular processes ultimately responsible for the generation of sensory organs, including the optic lens, the olfactory epithelium (tissue in the nasal cavity that is responsible for smell) and the inner ear.

nyu-dentistry-professor-awarded-five-year-2m-nih-grant-to-study-cellular-processes-responsible-for-generating-sensory-organs
Jean-Pierre Saint-Jeannet, PhD

Research has broad implications for interventional prenatal development and
regenerative medicine, with regard to sensory defects.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology Jean-Pierre Saint-Jeannet, PhD, a five-year, $2M grant to study the cellular processes ultimately responsible for the generation of sensory organs, including the optic lens, the olfactory epithelium (tissue in the nasal cavity that is responsible for smell) and the inner ear.

Dr. Saint-Jeannet’s research focuses on the formation of cranial placodes, which are thickenings of the outermost layer of tissue located in the head of the developing embryo. Cranial placodes make vital contributions to the paired sensory organs, differentiating into diverse cell types such as sensory neurons, lens fibers, and hormone secreting cells.

Dr. Saint-Jeannet’s previous research indicates that retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, may play an important role in the process.

“Our immediate goals are to elucidate the mechanisms by which retinoic acid regulates the development of the placode progenitors, and define the factors that cooperate with retinoic acid to generate the full spectrum of cranial placode derivatives,” says Dr. Saint-Jeannet.

The study, which will define the interplay of signaling molecules controlling cranial placodes formation, has broader implications for both prenatal development and regenerative medicine. Among its long-term goals is the identification of therapeutic targets to treat congenital malformations in utero and to minimize sensory defects at birth. Furthermore, the study may provide valuable information in order to differentiate human embryonic stem cells into placode progenitors with distinct developmental potentials. Ultimately, these cells could be used in cell replacement therapies in pediatric and adult patients to correct sensory deficits

About NYU College of Dentistry
Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating more than 8 percent of all dentists. NYU College of Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body. Visit http://dental.nyu.edu for more.

 

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