Samuel Koo, DDS, MS, DMSc, 2012 Cohen Fellow:
1. What is your research focus?
The focus of my basic science research has been on tooth regeneration and I also have been investigating the use of 3D/haptics technology in dental education.
2. And 3. What has/have been the most significant contribution(s) of your research to our specialty? What are some future directions of your research program?
Dental implants have been a valuable treatment option to restore missing teeth. Although many patients are successfully treated, some patients may suffer from complications, such as peri-implantitis. Scientists around the world have been investigating ways to regenerate the whole tooth organ in order to replace missing teeth. Our studies have shown that de novo tooth formation is possible by introducing genetic modifications in animal model. I believe that this approach along with a further understanding of stem cell biology will enable us to regenerate the whole tooth for our patients in the future.
I also have had a great interest in introducing advanced technologies in Dentistry. We have investigated 3D and haptics technology for tooth preparations of various direct restorations in a virtual reality setting. With further advancement of this technology, it can be applied to create virtual cases for a periodontal examination (probing, calculus detection, etc.) and periodontal therapies (scaling & root planing and flap management).
4. What influence did the support from the Foundation have on your career as a researcher?
As a researcher, receiving an award from the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation was extremely valuable as it served as a recognition of the importance of our research. The award was also a crucial support in easing the financial burden for junior faculty like myself.