College of Dentistry Gets $10.9 Million

Contact: Amy Gilliam

Photo of Jeffrey L. Ebersole
Jeffrey L. Ebersole

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The overall focus of this grant addresses the challenges of human diseases on the molecular level and understanding the difference between infections and disease in the oral cavity. The investigators will develop in a mentored and nurturing environment, paving the way for future prevention and treatment. Outcomes of the research will enhance the maturation of oral health research at UK and expand NIH-funded research in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2004) -- The University of Kentucky continues to sustain the growth and quality of its research enterprise.

The UK College of Dentistry has been awarded a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant totaling over $10.9 million from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Promising investigators will research how oral diseases affect other health problems including HIV, atherosclerosis, gestational diabetes, and viral/bacterial interactions in chronic disease. The research will be led by investigators who are working with their first major grants.

The COBRE grant will support 10 promising new researchers. They will serve as principal investigators in studies of their own design, with the aid of senior faculty mentors. The COBRE grant will enable the university to create a program of faculty development and recruitment that will advance UK’s standing as a research institution.

“This grant further enhances the research enterprise at the University of Kentucky,” said Dr. Wendy Baldwin, UK executive vice president for research. “A key feature of a research university is that it provides mentoring to students as new faculty help them develop their careers and further their research areas.”

Dr. Jeffrey L. Ebersole, associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies and director of the Center for Oral Health Research, will serve as COBRE program director for the UK College of Dentistry. Ebersole has worked for many years to increase the understanding of chronic oral infections through research.

“This is a great step forward for the university,” Ebersole said. “Junior investigators will be integrated into projects with established, funded faculty who use state-of-the-art research methods.”

The overall focus of this grant addresses the challenges of human diseases on the molecular level and understanding the difference between infections and disease in the oral cavity. The investigators will develop in a mentored and nurturing environment, paving the way for future prevention and treatment. Outcomes of the research will enhance the maturation of oral health research at UK and expand NIH-funded research in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“Being part of the COBRE program will enhance the ability of these researchers – and the University of Kentucky – to win external funding for their work in the future,” Ebersole said.

“Chronic untreated oral infections have significant impacts on other areas of general health,” said Dr. Sharon P. Turner, dean, UK College of Dentistry. “These studies will help unlock some of the mysteries associated with these impacts and translate them into better total health care in the near term.”

Recently the UK College of Medicine Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry also was awarded a $10 million grant from COBRE to produce the next generation of cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease researchers. The combined grants, totaling over $20 million, lay the groundwork to further enhance the research enterprise at UK.

Established in 1962, the UK College of Dentistry has a national and international reputation for its dynamic and innovative approaches to dental education.

The college offers the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, as well as postdoctoral programs in six fields of study: general practice dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orofacial pain, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and periodontics.

Approximately 200 doctoral students and 30 graduate students and residents are enrolled. In addition, the student/faculty ratio promotes a very supportive atmosphere. The college is committed to providing its students with superior programs that prepare them to deliver competent care to patients throughout the Commonwealth and the nation.


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