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   SIU SDM Research Videos

The SIUE Research and Creative Activities group recently published a video highlighting the groundbreaking research of Drs. Kevin Rowland, Section Head of Physiology at SIU SDM, and Cyril Pandarakalam, Assistant Professor in the Section of Diagnostic Sciences at SIU SDM. The two esteemed faculty members at SIU SDM are studying the effects and safety of a newly formulated topical drug to alleviate oral pain in dental procedures.

Watch this exciting SIU SDM Research Video on YouTube now!

   SIU SDM Research News

SIU School of Dental Medicine to Receive $1.2 million Through NIH-funded National Study

Dr. Nathalia Garcia, periodontist from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine (SIU SDM), is a principal investigator for the project titled “Biomarkers of Periodontal Disease Progression.” It is a multi-center study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will award more than $1.2 million to SIU SDM for its contribution to the overall research.

The SDM’s portion is part of a $20.7 million consortium project. The award’s prime recipient is the Forsyth Institute located in Cambridge, MA and associated with Harvard University’s School of Medicine. The study spans five different dental research centers. Along with SIU SDM and the Forsythe Institute, institutions include the University of Michigan, New York University and State University of New York. A total of 500 clinical subjects will take part in the study.

At SIU SDM, Garcia will be overseeing 60 patients and working with colleagues, including Dr. Douglas Miley, Director of the Graduate Periodontic Program; Dr. Debra Dixon, Associate Professor and Section Head of Diagnostic Sciences; and Dr. M. Jane Gillespie, Section Head of Microbiology and former Director of Research. Three dedicated dental hygienists and a molecular biologist will also participate.

The project will attempt to find shared biomarkers, or indicative characteristics, of the progression of periodontal disease in test subjects, exploring the disease from microbiological, genetic and immunological perspectives. As the study continues, these biomarkers, as well as microbial species found in the subjects, will be compared with measurements of the effects of dental therapy on these recorded characteristics.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, approximately 64.7 million Americans suffer from an advanced form of periodontal disease. Periodontology is the study in dentistry of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of tissues of the teeth and gums. Dr. Garcia’s work could lead to new insights and advancements that would affect the long-term health of nearly half of adults in the U.S.

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SIU Dental Medicine Student Varney Earns National Research Recognition

Nicholas Varney, a second year dental student, has received distinguished recognition on the state and national level for his research activities this year.

Most recently, Varney was selected to serve the American Association for Dental Research/National Student Research Group as a member-at-large for 2014-15. Each year, the AADR/NSRG Board appoints two members-at-large. The one-year terms usually begin in May.

The members-at-large serve as local advocates for NSRG and reach out to dental schools to promote AADR, research and student activities. They also serve on NSRG Board committees that coordinate initiatives such as publications, student surveys, annual meeting programming and events; and local outreach.

In April, as a result of his research presentation at the annual SIU SDM Resarch Day, Varney earned the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation’s Basic Science Research Award. He received a financial award and has been invited to present his Table Clinic at the ISDS Annual Meeting, to be held September 18–20, in Schaumburg, IL.

Also in April, Varney earned the Irwin Robinson Research Award from the Odontographic Society of Chicago Research and Education Foundation. The purpose of the award is to grant directly to student researchers, who are deserving of a financial award, to recognize their research efforts. The award celebrates the work of a student investigator in a scientific project related to dentistry and other health sciences. Varney was also selected to offer an oral presentation at the 43rd Annual Session of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) in Charlotte, NC in March.

Varney’s research presentation is entitled, “Expression of Mas-Related Gene (MRG) Receptors in Human Dental Pulp.” He has been performing experiments to determine the identity and distribution of a new class of pain modulating receptors in dental pulp. MRG receptors are of particular interest because they are a family of proteins which are selectively expressed in pain-sensing neurons and could potentially be targeted for the development of new analgesics.

Varney has been working on this research project for two years in the lab of Dr. Medha Gautam, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the SIU School of Dental Medicine.

“What stood out for me was that Nick’s work was selected for an oral presentation at the AADR meeting after a competitive peer-review process,” said Dr. Gautam. “It was a pleasure to see SIU SDM research being presented in this way at a national level scientific meeting to an international audience of distinguished dental researchers.

“Apart from his motivation and commitment, what may have helped Nick the most in his research is his tenacity and positive attitude. He remained focused and became successful in achieving his research goals.”

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SIU SDM Student Earns National Research Recognition

In June, Alexandria Hawkins, a Year III dental student, was selected by the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) to receive the 2014 Colgate Research Award for showing academic distinction and demonstrating excellence in research.

Hawkins is one of only 10 students nationally to receive the $500 award. The winners will be listed in the August issue of the AAWD’s Chronicle newsletter.

In March, Hawkins also won third place in the DENTSPLY/Caulk Student Research Group Award Competition. The competition was held during the 43rd Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hawkins’ research -“Comparative Disinfection of Enterococcus faecalis Loaded Root Canals”-concentrated on research specific to endodontic irrigants.

“The research involves comparing different root canal irrigants based on how well they cleaned the canal and killed the bacteria,” Hawkins said. “My background as a biology major at SIUE and my previous research, which involved microbiology, initiated my interest in the topic, as well as the importance of successful root canal treatments in the field of dentistry.”

Hawkins was mentored in her research by Dr. M. Jane Gillespie, Professor and Section Head of Microbiology and former Director of Research at the SIU School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Gillespie said she is extremely proud of the student research activity at the SIU School of Dental Medicine.

“One has to actually be in dental school to realize how time consuming the curriculum is,” said Dr. Gillespie. “Students like Alex, who can find time to not only do the research, but also to successfully compete for national and international recognition, are exceptional.

“We are fortunate at SIU SDM to have administrative support for a research infrastructure that encourages a dedicated group of research faculty to find and mentor these exceptional students. It has been a pleasure working with Alex, because she is dedicated to excellence in whatever she does.”

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   Research Day 2014

2014 SIU SDM Research Day and Student Table Clinic Competition: Fritzgerald Wins Second Consecutive Title; Dr. Clarkson Shares Insights

The SIU School of Dental Medicine hosted our annual Research Day and Student Table Clinic Competition on April 7-8. The two-day Student Table Clinic Competition featured award-winning student research.

Among the competitors in the student research event, Adam Fritzgerald (Year 3 dental student), Alexandria Hawkins (Year 3 dental student) and Nicholas Varney (Year 2 dental student) all had received national attention for the content and quality of their research earlier in the year. In total, 19 students participated in the 2014 SIU SDM Research Day. Nine of the student presentations were eligible to earn the top prize and be named the Overall Winner of the 2014 Student Table Clinic Competition.

For the first time in recent history, a student earned the top prize for two consecutive years. Adam Fritzgerald was named the overall winner of the 2014 SDM Student Table Clinic Competition for the second consecutive year for his poster presentation, entitled "Use of Spatial Analysis to Inform Community Outreach Activities."

As the overall winner of the SIU SDM Student Table Clinic Competition, Fritzgerald will enjoy a recognition plaque and monetary award. Moreover, Fritzgerald earned the opportunity to represent the SIU School of Dental Medicine at the 2014 American Dental Association / DENTSPLY Student Clinician Research Program at the ADA Annual Session, which will be held in San Antonio in October.

Fritzgerald was mentored in his research by Dr. Poonam Jain, Professor and Director of Community and Preventive Dentistry at the SIU School of Dental Medicine.

The SIU School of Dental Medicine was honored to present Dr. Brian H. Clarkson, Professor in the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, as the Keynote Speaker at the 2014 Research Day. Dr. Clarkson served as the President of the American Association for Dental Research from 2007 to 2008 and served on the International Association for Dental Research Board of Directors from 2009 to 2011. He has over 35 years of experience in Dental Research.

Dr. Clarkson offered two lecture presentations during Research Day. In the morning, Dr. Clarkson offered a presentation entitled, "The Synthesis of Bioactive Apatite Crystals and their Application in Clinical Dentistry and Medicine." In the afternoon, he presented the topic: "Redefining Cariology in the 21st Century."

Both lectures were well attended and well received by faculty, students and staff at the SIU School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Clarkson highlighted his research at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and proposed some novel technologies for the non-invasive treatment of caries.

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  Student Research

Research Day

Each year, the SIU SDM Research Day features the annual Student Table Clinic Competition.  Winners of the competition earn opportunities to present their research at research competitions throughout the country.  A sample of the student research presented at the annual Student Table Clinic Competition in recent years follows (click on each image for content):

2012 Research Day Cover 2011 Research Day Cover
2010 Research Day Cover 2009 Research Day Cover

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Local Student Research Group Start Up Kit

Local Student Research Group (SRG) Start Up Kit Presented By The American Association of Dental Research (AADR) National Student Research Group (NSRG)
To view the presentation, click here:

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2015 Dean's Summer Student Research Program

Each year, funding is made available for student participation in summer research, sponsored by SDM faculty. Up to five (5) research fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis as determined by merit of a submitted research proposal. This program is designed to introduce a student to research. Funding for a second year student is approved only in rare cases. Details of the research program and how to apply are offered through the links that follow:

American Association of Oral Biologists Award

Each year, one student earns the American Association of Oral Biologists Award. The award recognizes a senior dental student who has made significant contributions to the advancement of oral biology and has demonstrated the potential for further achievement in this field.   This award recognizes the ability of the student to think critically and to participate in original research related to oral biology, as well as the student's academic achievement and enthusiasm for oral biology.  Eric Castle earned the honor and award for the Class of 2014.

Quintessence Award for Research Achievement

Each year, one student earns the Quintessence Award for Research Achievement. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in research.  Eric Castle earned the honor and award for the Class of 2014.

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  SIU SDM Research Forms

ALL RESEARCH conducted by SDM faculty (regardless of the type or source of funding) and changes to current/ongoing research projects MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE by the SDM Research Committee.  No scholarly activity points will be awarded for research activity which was not pre-approved by the Research Committee. 

The SDM Research Committee requests all materials which need consideration and/or approval be submitted to Research Administration for processing at least one week prior to the next committee meeting.  The FY2015 SDM Research Committee meeting schedule is as follows:

SDM Research Committee
FY 2015 Meeting Schedule
Materials for Consideration/Approval
Due By
January 8, 2015 January 5, 2015
February 12, 2015 February 5, 2015
March 26, 2015 March 19, 2015
April 9, 2015 April 2, 2015
May 14, 2015 May 7, 2015
June 11, 2015 June 4, 2015

If you have any questions, please contact any member of the SDM Research Committee for assistance.

  • Dr. Pandarakalam, Chair; Ext. 7131
  • Dr. Garcia, Vice Chair; Ext. 7180
  • Dr. Gillespie; Ext. 7144
  • Dr. Eapen; Ext. 7031
  • Dr. Omran; Ext. 7292

Pilot Project Application Forms

Advanced Investigation Award Application Forms

Non-Funded Research Application Forms

Other Office of Research Forms

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   American Association for Dental Research

The Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine is an Institutional Section member of the American Association for Dental Research, and we encourage our faculty, research staff and students to join AADR at the individual level. Dedicated scientists turn to AADR to move their research into action.

Being an AADR member will give you:

  • Increased opportunities to advocate for the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research;

  • Online access to cutting-edge science published in the Journal of Dental Research;

  • A subscription to the monthly AADR Science Advocate e-newsletter;

  • Discounted registration rates to attend AADR and IADR meetings; 

  • A platform to network and collaborate with researchers and others in the field of dentistry;

  • And much more!

 For more information and to join, visit or contact

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