The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health has awarded Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) researchers one of the largest federal grants in the school’s history.
NIDCR awarded a $4.7 million, five-year U01 grant titled "Establishing Readiness of Dental Professionals in Practice-Based Research and Interprofessional Care" to Drs. Thankam Thyvalikakath, Angela Bruzzaniti, and Mythily Srinivasan.
“We are very excited about receiving this U01 grant from NIDCR,” said Dr. Tien-Min Gabriel Chu, associate dean for research. “It is a demonstration of our faculty’s collective effort in pursuing more funding to support the scholarly work at IUSD. With this U01 and other grants we have received recently, we are at the highest level of federal funding in at least the past 20 years in the school’s history,”
This clinical research training grant will engage dental students and faculty in research activities and incorporate evidence-based principles into the dental curriculum to enhance their critical thinking skills to evaluate and incorporate new knowledge into practice.
“This grant will also advance the knowledge and skills of our dental students to manage uncommon conditions, such as Sjogren’s Disease, through interprofessional collaboration and conduct research in community practice settings to address unanswered questions that affect patient care,” said principal investigator Dr. Thyvalikakakath. “This is important because enhancing dental clinicians’ critical thinking skills will enable them to work with researchers to formulate and conduct research in practice settings based on the real-world problems they encounter during patient care. The evidence generated through such research would have a significantly higher impact on patient care.”
The grant’s clinical study specifically investigates Sjögren’s Disease and will be used to develop a salivary hypofunction index in combination with salivary biomarkers to detect patients susceptible to Sjögren’s Disease early, which is a disorder of the immune system identified by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and dry mouth. The condition often accompanies other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is often diagnosed late, losing the opportunity to reverse the damage that affects a person’s body systems.
At IUSD, Dr. Thyvalikakath is professor and associate dean of Dental Informatics and Digital Health in the Department of Dental Public Health and Dental Informatics.
Co-principal investigator Dr. Angela Bruzzaniti is professor and director of the PhD program and research development and is director of dental student research.
Co-principal investigator Dr. Srinivasan is associate professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Medicine, and Radiology, and holds several patents related to peptides and methods for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Their research will commence in September 2023 with training and planning activities, followed by clinical study in IUSD predoctoral clinical settings and interdisciplinary management of patients susceptible to Sjogren’s Disease and dry mouth.