Strides in Science

AADR Strides in Science is a monthly feature highlighting an AADR member’s accomplishments and comments on how his/her involvement with AADR has been an important part of his/her career in research. If you would like to nominate a colleague to be featured, please send his/her name to scienceadvocate@aadr.org.

August 2015

Alexandre DaSilva, D.D.S., D.Med.Sc., is an assistant professor at the Biologic & Materials Sciences Department at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. There, he is also the director of H.O.P.E. (Headache & Orofacial Pain Effort), which is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort to investigate the brain as a research and therapeutic target for chronic trigeminal pain disorders.

He received his Doctorate in Medical Science degree in oral biology with clinical training in TMD and orofacial pain at Harvard University. His thesis subject was on somatotopic (fMRI) activation in the human trigeminal pain pathway. This training was followed by a post-doctoral fellowship on migraine neuroimaging at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, to investigate subcortical and cortical neuroplasticity in migraine patients. He also worked in the Psychiatric Department at Harvard University/McLean Hospital, and was an assistant clinical investigator at The Forsyth Institute in Boston. During his training, he collaborated with his colleagues on innovative neuroimaging and non-invasive brain stimulation projects for chronic TMD, trigeminal neuropathic pain and migraine.

Today, he and his team, with collaborators from the University of Michigan and other academic institutions, use state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, PET, MRS, DTI, and MRI-based morphometry) to study neuroplasticity, and to investigate novel therapeutic approaches and mechanisms in headache and orofacial pain disorders. His laboratory has mentored research and resident fellows with different backgrounds, from bioengineering, medical radiology, anatomy and pain (undergraduates, M.D., D.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D.). Under his mentorship, dental residents currently lead projects and develop new technologies that have transformative relevance in the pain clinic. As one orthodontic resident’s project targets directly the brains of patients with chronic TMD to provide pain relief, another endodontic resident’s study measures in real-time the brain activity of a patient under dental pain in a clinical setting.

Here, DaSilva is navigating in 3D through the brain of a patient during a migraine attack. This is used for his lab’s research and educational efforts related to pain and migraine. Citation: DaSilva AF, Nascimento TD, Love T, DosSantos MF, Martikainen IK, Cummiford CM, DeBoer M, Lucas SR, Bender MA, Koeppe RA, Hall T, Petty S, Maslowski E, Smith YR, Zubieta JK. 2014. 3D-neuronavigation in vivo through a patient's brain during a spontaneous migraine headache. J Vis Exp. 2(88). doi: 10.3791/50682.

DaSilva has been an AADR member since 2005 and was recently voted treasurer of the AADR Michigan Section. As an expert in the field, he will present at the upcoming 8th AADR Fall Focused Symposium: Advances in the Biology and Management of Chronic Pain

What motivated you to join AADR?
Anyone who has an interest in research should be involved in AADR. I joined AADR initially for the networking and the access to research. I knew that it was a good place for me to see what dental research my peers are conducting.

What is one of the most valuable benefits of your AADR membership?
I think the most valuable benefit of my membership has been having access to the research publications that AADR provides in the JDR. Also, being able to attend the meetings is valuable because I can meet with my peers and learn more about their research.

What would you say to other members to encourage them to be more active in AADR?
I think AADR is a great venue to find colleagues who are linked to research. AADR is a large and productive community and AADR provides opportunities for members to be involved. I’m speaking at the upcoming Fall Focused Symposium. By speaking at the meetings or presenting a poster, it gives you an opportunity to promote your research. If you want your research to be seen, you need to become more involved in AADR, attend meetings and look for opportunities to present your work and learn.

How has being active in the IADR/AADR Neuroscience Scientific Group helped you advance your research?
Being involved in the Neuroscience Scientific Group definitely helps me reach research collaborators, and my clinical and research colleagues. It also helps me connect with students, including potential post-docs and research fellows. Through my involvement in the Neuroscience Scientific Group, I have access to a larger network of researchers that I otherwise wouldn’t know.

What is the value your AADR membership has had in your career growth?
It is crucial to be connected to my fellow AADR member colleagues. Not only by the news that we receive from AADR but through networking with my colleagues at the meetings. When I attend the meetings I’m able to see how the field is developing and growing. My laboratory has people from different fields, which includes dentists in different specialties but also neurologists, bioengineers and people in 3D technology. It is important that we go beyond what one particular discipline can contribute to the field by widening our collaboration. Through AADR, I’m able to meet and network with new collaborators and this has been positive for my career growth.

What advice would you offer to students to encourage them to pursue research?
I encourage students to get involved in research and AADR. Even if you are thinking about clinical work, being involved in research helps you think differently to find solutions to better provide treatment to our patients. 

 

July 2015

Molly Hague is a student at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry, class of 2016. Hague graduated from Drury University, Springfield, Missouri, with a Bachelor's degree in biology.  She earned several accolades while studying at Drury University, including the 2011 Outstanding Senior Woman at Drury University and the 2011 Laura Bond Award, Biology Honors. 

Hague is interested in craniofacial anomalies and development. Her career aspirations are to specialize in orthodontics, complete a craniofacial orthodontic fellowship and to join a craniofacial anomalies team. She has completed two summer research fellowships at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. In her first fellowship in 2010, her research focused on Treacher-Collins Syndrome and research was conducted on the palate development of Tcof1 mice. During her second fellowship the following summer, she conducted research on craniofacial development and analyzed histologically stained coronal/frontal sections of Tcof1;Pax3 heterozygous mice palate development. 

In 2012 she completed a three-month fellowship at the UCSF School of Dentistry that aimed to determine the extent to which individual ion channels mediate the mechanotransduction necessary for secondary chondrogenesis. Hague joined AADR that same year and received an AADR Student Research Fellowship that allowed her to further explore dental research. The following year she received an AADR Bloc Travel grant that enabled her to travel to and present her research at the 2013 AADR Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. 

In 2014, Hague was one of three dental students inducted into the 2014-2015 class of the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program. The MRSP is a comprehensive, year-long research enrichment program designed to attract the most creative, research-oriented medical, dental, and veterinary students to the intramural campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.

In addition to being an AADR member, Hague is a member of the AADR National Student Research Group (NSRG) and served as president for the 2014-2015 term. The AADR NSRG is a student-run organization whose main purpose is to foster an environment in every dental school whereby students interested in enriching their dental education through research are encouraged to do so. 

How did you first get involved in AADR?
Initially it was my interest in research that led me to join AADR and apply for an AADR Student Research Fellowship. Early on in dental school I was doing research at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. I was very interested in craniofacial anomalies and craniofacial development, and I knew the project I was working on could be transferred to similar mentors at UCSF. When I transferred to UCSF I searched for mentors and UCSF helped guide me to Dr. Rich Schneider who was doing research on the mandibular development of ducks. After I transferred to UCSF, I did a basic science summer project and that’s when I became aware of AADR and decided to join. Having the support of AADR has been very helpful.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
One of the most valuable benefits of my AADR membership is the networking opportunities that are available to me as a member. These in-person networking opportunities take place at the meetings, and if I qualify for any of the meeting-related fellowships I apply so that I’m able to attend the AADR meetings. At the meetings there are innumerable opportunities to network with students and faculty, and I’m able to attend presentations on my research interests. In addition to the networking, I really enjoy having access to the research published in the Journal of Dental Research, which I use as a resource. As a student, I find value in the AADR National Student Research Group, which I learned more about when I attended my first AADR meeting in Seattle, in 2013. At that meeting, when I attended the NSRG meetings, the NSRG members introduced me to other student members and told me ways to get involved in the NSRG. They also told me how to encourage students at my school to pursue research. Sometimes it’s difficult to balance research and involvement in dental school, but by attending that first meeting I learned more about how to balance everything while helping other students become interested in research. 

What would you say to other student members to encourage them to participate in the NSRG?
To encourage other student members to be more involved in the NSRG I would say first attend an AADR Annual Meeting. Attending a meeting will give students an opportunity to meet face-to-face with other NSRG members that they otherwise might not meet. I know it’s not always possible for students to attend the meetings but students can also interact with one another on the NSRG’s social media platforms. I also would encourage students to be more involved at the university level by joining their local research group at their university. 

This summer you completed your NIH Medical Research Scholars Program fellowship. Why is it important for more dental students to apply to be part of that program? 
I applied to be in the NIH MRSP because I’m extremely interested in research and I wanted to see if research is something I want to pursue further as a Ph.D., if I want to do a specialty in research or if I want to pursue a more academic track. Prior to being in the program I hadn’t had the opportunity to take a year off for research—I had only done three-month sectors for a total of nine months. I knew that through the NIH MRSP I would have the opportunity to do basic science and get a taste for what research is really like on a day-to-day basis, and also learn what it’s like to be at the NIH. Being in the program gave me an opportunity to hone in on my critical thinking skills, and to learn what are some of the questions in dentistry that need to be answered, if we don’t keep asking questions this profession will grow stagnant. I wanted to learn how to ask those questions and explore how basic science can connect people from the bench to the bedside. I encourage all dental students to apply because this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to live on the NIH campus and learn more about basic science and patient care.

 

June 2015

Daniel W. McNeil, Ph.D., is professor of psychology (with tenure) and a clinical professor of dental practice & rural health at West Virginia University (WVU). There he is also Distinguished Eberly Family Professor of public service. He earned his B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. 

As director of his Anxiety, Psychophysiology and Pain (APP) Research Laboratory, he is involved in the training of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as dental students, and chairs dissertation and thesis committees, mentoring trainees at all levels and across disciplines. He is a supervising psychologist in the WVU Department of Psychology’s training clinic, the Quin Curtis Center.  With a particular focus on behavioral dentistry and other clinic-based studies in health care settings, his APP lab encompasses basic laboratory studies on human behavior related to pain and emotion, including such constructs as emotional pain.

As a licensed and practicing clinical psychologist, McNeil is a clinical researcher with interdisciplinary interests in health psychology, including behavioral dentistry, studying the experience and expression of emotion, particularly anxiety and pain. Working broadly within a clinical health psychology framework, and including a specific focus on behavioral dentistry, he is involved with several externally funded research projects as a principal or co-principal investigator at WVU, examining factors contributing to oral health disparities in Appalachia (2R01 DE014899; grant from the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research/National Institutes of Health) and enhancing exposure therapy for dental phobia using d-Cycloserine (grant from the WVU/University of Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institutes Partnership). He also serves as a mentor and co-investigator on a project investigating the assessment of negativity bias in depression, and changes in that bias as a result of behavioral activation therapy (NARSAD grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation). As a Fulbright Senior Scholar in New Zealand in 2010, McNeil also is interested in psychological implications of cross-cultural interactions, including groups for whom health disparities exist, including Appalachian populations and indigenous peoples, particularly including American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

McNeil has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 10 years for behavioral dentistry and other oral health research. Currently, he is on the executive committee with the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA), working collaboratively with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan to address oral health disparities. 

McNeil joined AADR in 1993 and is involved in the IADR Behavioral, Epidemiological, and Health Services Research (BEHSR) Scientific Group. He currently serves as the Group’s secretary/treasurer and recently was elected to be president-elect.  

How did you first get involved in AADR?
When I joined the faculty at West Virginia University, colleagues here encouraged me to become involved in AADR. It made sense because it was consistent with my research. I attended my first meeting shortly after joining AADR and was very impressed with it and in interacting with colleagues from other disciplines. After attending my first meeting I was inspired to become even more involved.

What is your favorite AADR membership benefit? 
One of my favorite benefits is the networking opportunities AADR and IADR provide. In my area of dental fear and anxiety, and oral health care utilization, the opportunity to interact with colleagues from across the country and North America is very helpful. Another valuable benefit of being an AADR member is that it has propelled me into international interactions through my participation in the BEHSR Scientific Group and through the IADR/AADR combined meetings. That is extraordinarily helpful in terms of advancing science, public policy initiatives and interventions. 

How has being in an IADR Scientific Group helped to further your research?
Being active in the BEHSR has been incredibly important for me because of the opportunities to interact with colleagues. The Scientific Groups bring together people from various disciplines from across the world and allow us an opportunity to interact and discuss joint research ventures. The BEHSR has crystalized everything in AADR and IADR for me to gain benefits for myself and my students, and to make a contribution through professional service as an officer. The experience is very rewarding and I encourage my students to also be involved because being a member of a Scientific Group gives you another professional home. 

What advice do you offer to your students to encourage them to pursue careers in research?
I try to share my enthusiasm and passion for research with my students, and I hope my excitement is infectious. I also encourage them to be active in research by reminding them of the opportunities to attend AADR meetings and present their work. Doing this allows the students and I to have input from fellow researchers from outside of our campus. Consistently students are rewarded and have positive experiences from attending the meetings, and those experiences prove to them how a career in research is rewarding. 

What would you say to a nonmember to motivate them to join AADR?
There are many reasons why nonmembers should join AADR but one specific reason is the chance to continue to grow professionally, scientifically and clinically. Being part of AADR will help them stay abreast of the latest developments in the field to understand where the field is heading, and it’s a very stimulating and enriching environment. Through being a member, there’s also the opportunity to make a contribution toward how the field is moving forward. AADR provides that ongoing professional growth that is needed to further research.

 

May 2015

Donald L. Chi, D.D.S., Ph.D. is associate professor, oral health sciences at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. There, he is also an adjunct associate professor, health services; adjunct associate professor, pediatric dentistry; and a faculty member of the graduate college. 

He earned his A.B. in government and Asian studies from Cornell University; his D.D.S. in dentistry from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. in health services research from the University of Iowa. 

His research interests include dental care utilization for Medicaid-enrolled children with special health care needs; sugar-sweetened beverages and dental caries in Alaska Native children; dental caries in children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis; health care transitions for adolescents with special health care needs; and behavioral determinants of parents saying no to topical fluoride for their children. His scientific findings have been published in many peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Dental Research, and he has authored/co-authored nearly 70 papers.

Since joining AADR in 2004, Chi has remained an engaged member by presenting his research at AADR and IADR meetings, and serving as a program coordinator and symposium organizer for the IADR Pediatric Oral Health Research Group. In 2013 he received the IADR Colgate Community-Based Research Award for Caries Prevention.  

What inspired you to go into dental research?
I studied political science as an undergrad and I’ve always been interested in studying health issues. When I was an undergrad at Cornell I had opportunities to participate in research. After I graduated from college I went to Korea University on a Fulbright to study the effects of the financial crisis on the national health insurance system. That’s really when I began to understand how I could build a career based on my research interests. When I started dental school I knew that I wanted to do research and I had meaningful experiences conducting research on children’s oral health disparities and publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals. Part of the research process included the opportunity to attend and present at my first AADR meeting as a student. It opened my eyes to all the wonderful opportunities in dental research and a lot of important questions that had not yet been answered. From there I developed an interest in pediatric dentistry. I realized that my research interests in health inequity, prevention and policy went hand-in-hand with my interests in clinical pediatric dentistry. 

How was the experience when you attended and presented at your first AADR Annual Meeting?
I attended and presented an oral poster at the 2004 meeting when I was a second year dental student. The presentation focused on access to dental care for children in the New Hampshire Medicaid program. It was a little intimidating because the audience consisted of many well-known scientists in the field. It was a 10-minute presentation and the attendees were extremely interested and supportive, and they asked great questions. My presentation turned into a conversation and that was fun for me. That was my introduction to presenting my work to scientists and since then I’ve had many more positive experiences presenting my findings at meetings. I attribute my initial interest and success to my first presentation at the AADR Annual Meeting.

What would you say to encourage AADR National Student Research Group members to present their research at AADR meetings?
Sometimes when you’re doing your work in the lab or in your office you might feel isolated or feel as though you’re working in a bubble. One of the great things about attending the AADR and IADR meetings is that you meet people who are doing research in your field, and it’s amazing to know that you are actually part of a larger community. I’ve mentored a number of students who I have encouraged to present their findings at the meetings. I think that attending these meetings is an important part of the research dissemination process, and I share that with them. I also let them know that presenting their research at the meetings is a great way to meet potential future collaborators and mentors, especially when you’re just getting started in research. Secondly, it can be tough to find grant funding and to get your research published but perseverance pays off. Students sometimes think of career success as being linear but often times there are setbacks and roadblocks. Career trajectories aren’t always linear so I encourage students to persevere because this is an exciting time to do research. 

What role has cross-collaboration played in your scientific findings?
The interdisciplinary aspect of my research has been critical to moving my work forward in new and interesting ways. My research focuses on the understanding and developing solutions to children’s oral health disparities. At the root of oral health disparities are social inequities, like poverty, homelessness and low health literacy, and suboptimal oral health behaviors. This type of research lends itself naturally to collaborations with colleagues outside of dentistry. That’s why attending the AADR meetings are important because there I’m able to meet collaborators. So many new ideas result from meeting people at the poster sessions and other symposia. 

What is the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
There are many factors that make AADR membership valuable—one being the opportunity to attend the annual meeting. Being a member of AADR also means I can participate in the Scientific Groups. I’m part of the IADR Pediatric Oral Health Research Group and within that group there’s a lot of important work that takes place at the meeting, but that work continues between meetings. At the meeting in Boston we put together a symposium on adolescent oral health disparities. That provided an opportunity for symposium presenters to come together before the meeting and share ideas for the presentation and brainstorm future manuscript and grant ideas. Attending the meetings and being part of a scientific group helps me to continue to develop new ideas and make new collaborations. 

 

 

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