Rena D'Souza, D.D.S.,M.S.,Ph.D.

Adjunct Investigator

Section on Molecules and Therapies for Craniofacial and Dental Disorders




Bethesda, MD 20892



Research Topics

Major Research Interests

Developmental Biology and Genetics

- Craniofacial development and genetics with emphasis on the role of transcription factors in regulating epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during tooth and palate morphogenesis.

- Identification of novel genes and/or mutations responsible for human syndromic and non-syndromic tooth agenesis and elucidation of how aberrations in gene function contribute to the failure of tooth development.

- Development and testing of novel small-molecule replacement therapies for the reversal/cure of craniofacial defects that arise from single-gene disorders.

- Evaluation of dentition in children exposed to high levels of environmental toxins (endocrine disruptors) during prenatal development

Matrix Biology

- Characterization of extracellular matrix proteins of dentin, bone, and cartilage during embryogenesis and postnatal life. Phenotypic analysis of mouse mutant strains that harbor mutations in these structural matrix genes.

Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering, Stem Cells

- Biomimetic and nanostructured tissue engineering approaches for dental tissue-specific regeneration. Handling and characterization of dental stem cells in novel scaffolds (multi-domain peptide hydrogels) and complex microenvironments.

Clinical Research

- Design of Phase 1 and 2 Trials for testing the safety and efficacy of biologically-derived scaffolds for tissue regeneration and agonist therapies for the correction of craniofacial defects (in progress)

- Precision approaches for the correction of single-gene disorders of the craniofacial complex using small molecule approaches (large animal and human studies


1977 B.D.S. (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), University of Bombay, India

1977-1978 General Practice Residency, Departments of Oral Surgery, Operative Dentistry and Periodontics, Government Dental College and St. George's Hospital, University of Bombay, India

1985 D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery), Dental Branch, UTHSCH

1985 M.S., Pathology/Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UTHSCH. Thesis Title: "Pulpal and Periapical Immune Responses to Dental Injury" (Supervising Professor: Dr. Barnet Levy)

1987 PhD, Pathology/Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHSCH) Dissertation Title: "The Role of Interleukins in the Pulpal Response to Injury" (Supervising Professor: Dr. Barnet Levy)

1985-1989 Assistant Professor (Part-time), Department of Anatomical Sciences, UTHSCH

1989-1995 Assistant Professor (Full-time), Departments of Basic Sciences and Anatomical Sciences, UTHSCH

1992-2013 Faculty, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (UTHSCH)

2013 -2020 Professor of Dentistry The Ole and Marty Jensen Chair, School of Dentistry, University of Utah

Professor of Neurobiology & Anatomy, Pathology, Surgery, School of Medicine and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Utah

Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Education, Health Sciences, University of Utah

2020-Present Professor Emeritus, University of Utah

2020-Present Director, National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health (NIDCR/NIH)

2021-Present Chief, “Craniofacial and Dental Disorders” Research Laboratory, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD/NIH)

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Monday, November 13, 2023