Fall 2004 Table of Contents
Research in Focus
Dental-Obstetrical Team Searches for
Clues to Premature Birth

In an innovative collaboration, NYU College of Dentistry and School of Medicine faculty have launched one of the most in-depth studies of preterm birth risk factors to date, with the support of a three-year, $955,000 grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health.

In 2002, the grant’s principal investigator, Dr. Ananda P. Dasanayake, NYUCD Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion and Director of its MS Program in Clinical Research, invited colleagues at the NYU School of Medicine participating in a four-year, March of Dimes-sponsored study on preterm birth – Dr. Charles Lockwood, then Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – and the March of Dimes study’s principal investigator, and Dr. Men-Jean Lee, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to become coinvestigators on the NIDCR grant proposal, which focuses on periodontal disease and prematurity. Dr. Lee and Dr. Lockwood will provide cervico-vaginal and serum samples from their study to Dr. Dasanayake, who will determine if preterm birth mothers’ samples show significantly different levels of periodontal pathogens and serum antibodies compared to those pathogens from samples of normal birth mothers. Dr. Dasanayake will complete his analysis by comparing periodontal pathogens in dental plaque with cervico- vaginal and serum sample data from an additional 215 pregnant women. The dental-obstetrical teams will ultimately combine their respective findings in a broad appraisal of various preterm birth risk factors.

Additional coinvestigators include Dr. Ron Craig, an Associate Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology and of Periodontics; Dr. Douglas E. Morse, an Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion; and Dr. Anne Tanner, a senior staff member and expert in oral pathogen identification at The Forsyth Institute in Boston, who will perform the micro- biological analyses.