Spring 2005 Table of Contents
Research in Focus
Student Research Grows By More Than 600 Percent

Dr. Louis Terracio, Associate Dean for Research

Between 2000 and 2004, the number of NYUCD students participating in national and regional research competitions grew from approximately 15 to over 100, a more than 600 percent increase. This dramatic rise is attributable to a convergence of scientific and economic trends and to a fresh emphasis on the importance of student research as part of dental education.

According to Associate Dean for Research Dr. Louis Terracio, whose arrival in 2000 spurred an overall surge in research activity, "Scientific necessity and economic opportunity have combined to create a vibrant student research culture. Genome mapping has led to a demand for researchers trained to uncover genetic factors contributing to oral and craniofacial disease, which, in turn, leads more students to consider research as a viable career.

"At the same time, the growth in NIH-funded faculty research has generated lots of excitement among students because professors who bring in significant grants also take time to share their know-how and help students learn the whole research process, from grant-writing through presenting results at scientific meetings."

In fact, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of students enrolled in NYUCD's Master's Degree and one-year certificate programs in Clinical Research -- from two at the programs' founding in 2001 to 22 today. And the demand for clinical researchers continues to grow; industry expects to employ over 50,000 clinical investigators this year, up from 33,000 in 2000, according to CenterWatch, a clinical research newsletter.

"Complementing this trend are our NIH-funded faculty, who inspire students to pursue research in their particular areas of expertise, including, for example, why some communities have higher oral cancer rates; how genetic profiling may identify one's risk for developing caries; and how turning apoptosis (cell death) on and off affects cancer and heart disease progression," Dr. Terracio explained.

Students have research opportunities under the tutelage of such faculty as Dr. Ralph Katz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, who directs NYUCD's $8.3 million Oral Cancer Disparities Research Center grant; Dr. Kathleen Kinnally, Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology, who has received $2.5 million in apoptosis research funding; Dr. Peter Sacks, Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology, who leads a $1 million dollar-plus study of why precancerous cells become cancer; and Associate Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology Dr. Yihong Li, a co-investigator on a $1 million-plus grant to develop a DNA profile of oral bacteria in young children with severe caries. And now students will be able to participate in the recently awarded $26.7 million Practice-Based Research Network.

While a private practice career remains most graduates' goal, a growing number are considering combining research with practice. "I've learned there are more options beyond the traditional career path most dental school graduates pursue," said Dr. Carla Desarkissian, a 2001 DDS graduate who went on to complete the MS in Clinical Research program last year in preparation for a career combining private practice and teaching.

Dr. Ryan McCafferty, who received his MS in Clinical Research two years ago, said the program inspired him to carve out a particular niche as an endodontist. "An endodontist with a master's degree in clinical research is a valuable commodity," said Dr. McCafferty, a 2005 graduate of the Advanced Education Program in Endodontics. "I don't think anyone else in the country is pursuing this career track. It opens up more options for me; helps me as a practitioner by empowering me to apply data more intelligently to patient care; helps my career in academia, where an advanced degree is essential; and is great for my research career, since most people in the field don't have on-the-job training."

Recent Student Research Award Highlights

2005 American Association for Dental Research Student Research Fellowship Award
Four NYUCD fellowship winners.
See article.

2004 AADR Student Research Fellowship Award
Lidia Simeonova
Cell-cell Recognition and Sorting in an In Vitro Multistage Carcinogenesis Model for Oral Cancer

2003 American College of Prosthodontics John J. Sharry National Research Award
Daniel Schweitzer
Comparison of Bond Strength of a Pressed Ceramic to Metal vs. Feldspathic Porcelain Fused to Metal

2003 ACP Table Clinic Award
Ashraf Estafan
In Vivo Correlation of Non-Carious Cervical Lesions and Occlusal Wear

Edward Goldin
Marginal Fit of Lucite Glass Pressable Ceramic Restorations and Ceramic Pressed to Metal Restorations

2003 American Dental Association/Dentsply Student Clinician Program Basic Science and Research Achievement Award -- First Place
Chia-Yu Sherry Ku
Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis Analysis of 16S rDNA Amplicon Mobility of Oral Bacteria

2001-2005 Greater New York Dental Meeting
Eleven student research award winners.