Khouryawad, a 16-year-old high school junior who studied periodontal
ligament regeneration and fibroblast cell growth during a summer
student research training program at NYUCD, never enters a laboratory
without two duplicate notebooks stuffed with scientific papers.
"I need the extra notebook in case something spills on my original
set of research protocols," explains Rozina, who last March became
one of the youngest people ever to present her findings at an AADR/IADR
"As soon as I saw the duplicate notebooks, I knew Rozina would
be the kind of super-organized person destined to succeed in biomaterials
research," recalls Elizabeth Clark, an Associate Research Scientist
and Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Biomaterials and Biomimetics,
who mentored Rozina and administers NYUCD's summer program for high
school and college students.
In fact, Rozina's study, entitled "In Vitro Fibroblast Growth on
GTR Regenerative Materials," was successful not only because it
was accepted by AADR and IADR but also because it has jump-started
her plans to pursue a career combining dentistry and research.
"I've wanted to become a dentist since I was a small child, when
I first noticed how quickly dentists can reshape smiles," says Rozina,
who next fall will be a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in
Bellmore, Long Island. She also developed an interest in tissue
engineering after reading an article about tooth regeneration, explaining
that she likes "to create something from nothing to make people
more beautiful." While searching the Internet for science internship
opportunities that would earn her extra school credit, she came
across NYUCD's Web site and contacted Associate Dean for Research
Dr. Louis Terracio, who referred her to Ms. Clark and her summer
research training program. "I suggested she work in an emerging
area of research dealing with regenerating periodontal ligament
that's been damaged from gum disease," recalls Ms. Clark, who put
Rozina in touch with Dr. Leila Jahangiri, Dr. John L. Ricci, Dr.
Van P. Thompson, and Mr. Michael J. Weiner, to discuss the parameters
for a pilot study.*
Rozina undertook a one-week trial to evaluate how a wide range
of different natural and artificial materials perform as foundations
for regrowing periodontal ligament cells. In the first phase of
the study last summer, Rozina grew mouse fibroblasts on the foundations.
She repeated the study several times until she perfected her own
protocol for culturing mouse fibroblasts in vitro. Working with
her mentors, she coauthored an abstract describing her conclusion
that fibroblast cells would likely grow best on foundations made
from polyglycolide trimethylene, a resorbable carbonate fiber. In
addition to the AADR/IADR presentation, the study won Rozina honorable
mention from the northeast regional Intel International Science
and Engineering competition for high school students, as well as
recognition from two of Intel's cosponsors, Kodak and the U.S. Navy.
Next, Rozina plans to implant periodontal ligament cells on the
foundations, and later plans to implant the cells in rats. In fact,
she's committed to pursuing this research for years to come, noting
that successful outcomes could pave the way for human clinical trials.
And she already has a strategy for juggling her lab work with college
courses. She plans to enroll in the seven-year combined BA-DDS program
offered by NYUCD in conjunction with NYU's College of Arts and Sciences,
followed by postdoctoral training leading to a career combining
research and private practice.
"She's already as methodical as a graduate student," noted Ms.
*Dr. Jahangiri is Assistant Professor and Chair
of the Dr. Louis Blatterfein Department of Prosthodontics; Dr. Ricci
is Associate Professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics; Dr. Thompson
is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomaterials and Biomimetics;
and Mr. Weiner is a Research Assistant in the Department of Biomaterials