Four Questions with Dr. Niki Moutsopoulos
Friday, March 20, 2020
Our mouths are teeming with bacteria, a microbial ecosystem known as the oral microbiome. While these microbes are typically benign, under certain circumstances they can turn harmful and contribute to oral diseases such as periodontitis, a form of chronic gum disease characterized by microbe-driven inflammation of the soft tissues and bone that support our teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 65 million Americans aged 30 or older have some degree of periodontitis. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of bacteria. If the condition worsens, it can lead to loose teeth and, eventually, bone or tooth loss.
NIH senior investigator Niki Moutsopoulos, Ph.D., head of the Oral Immunity and Inflammation Section at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), studies periodontitis and aims to understand the immune system’s role in driving this destruction. In a 2018 study, she and her team of IRP researchers and outside collaborators discovered that an abnormal and unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth causes specialized immune cells, known as T helper 17 (Th17) cells, to trigger inflammation and destroy tissue, leading to periodontitis.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Isaac was born to fight. Arriving more than five weeks early by emergency C-section, it wasn’t just his way of coming into the world that made him different from his three brothers. While he initially looked healthy, his parents soon realized Isaac’s health was something he and the entire family would need to be fighting for every single day.
Friday, April 8, 2016
Like many in the second wave of women scientists at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Margaret Kelly began as a technician and got her PhD while she was working. Kelly focused on what caused cancer and what drugs could be used to fight it.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
If you went out and asked folks what they’re seeing in this picture, most would probably guess an elegantly woven basket, or a soft, downy feather. But what this scanning electron micrograph actually shows isn’t at all soft: it is the hardest substance in the mammalian body—tooth enamel!
Friday, February 13, 2015
“And he said, ‘I can assure you that if you go through and become a good dentist, people will travel all over the world to find you. Chemists travel all over the world to find a job.”
That was the advice for Dr. Francis Arnold, who did become a dentist and helped establish the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, from his mentor, Dr. Thomas Hill, Professor of Clinical Oral Pathology and Therapeutics at Western Reserve University. The excerpt, and those that follow, come from Dr. Arnold's 1964 NIH oral history series. During the interviews, he discusses how his experiments and interests led him to become one of the four Public Health Service scientists who pioneered the study of fluorides and their effect on teeth.