National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Scientific Director: Matthew Hoffman, B.D.S., Ph.D.
Scientists in the NIDCR Division of Intramural Research conduct basic laboratory, translational, and clinical research in support of craniofacial and dental health. Using the latest techniques in biomedical science, researchers investigate the biochemistry, structure, function and development of bone, teeth, salivary glands, connective tissues and the immune system. Studies also focus on the role of bacteria and viruses in oral disease, genetic and acquired disorders of the craniofacial region and tumors of the oral cavity, the causes and treatment of acute and chronic pain, and the development of new and improved methods to diagnose oral disease. Specific areas of research include:
- Clinical research in dental medicine, dental expertise for clinical studies and dental consult services to the unique patient populations at the NIH Clinical Center
- Genetic and acquired disorders of hard tissues—bones, teeth, and cartilage—and associated soft tissues, such as bone marrow, tendons, and ligaments, adult stem cells and their biological activities; and composition, synthesis, and destruction of extracellular tissue matrices
- Gene regulation of the extracellular matrix and other cell interaction systems in embryonic development, normal and abnormal embryonic development of craniofacial and other tissues, processes involved in tissue repair and cancer, and replacement or regeneration of defective or damaged tissues
- Mechanisms of various types of sensation including taste, somatosensation (touch, pressure, temperature), and pain, and developing and testing novel therapeutic strategies to combat pain
- Molecular basis of salivary gland function and dysfunction, and developing strategies for the diagnosis, prevention, and management of salivary gland diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome
- Cancer cell biology to identify the faulty molecular mechanisms underlying the development of oral malignancies and their metastatic spread, early diagnostic markers and novel therapeutic approaches for the prevention and treatment of oral cancer
- Causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infectious and inflammatory diseases of the craniofacial region and oral cavity and basic mechanisms of inflammatory and immune host response to these organisms
- Mechanisms of cell differentiation in early embryos of sea urchins, specifically underlying development of gene regulatory networks that are highly conserved in evolution.
- Modulation of human monocyte functions that may contribute to connective tissue damage associated with inflammatory diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease
- Themolecular nature and function of the ion transport mechanisms involved in the fluid and electrolyte secretion process in the exocrine salivary gland, including the structure-function relationships of cotransporter, exchanger and channel proteins
- High-throughput approach to catalogue the human saliva proteome, to identify salivary biomarkers for human diseases, and to compile a comprehensive list of the plasma membrane proteins expressed in salivary glands
- Basic research on biosynthesis, structure and function of glycoproteins, placing a special emphasis on mucin-type O-glycans