Thiago Morelli, DDS, MS, 2010 Chasens Fellow, 2013 Foundation Fellow to the ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching & Learning in the Health Professions, 2013 Teaching Fellow:
1. What is your research focus?
My current research focus is to study the genetic relevance on chronic periodontal disease, more specifically, the impact of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from genes related to innate immune response on periodontal disease pathogenesis.
2. What has/have been the most significant contribution(s) of your research to our specialty?
Recently, in collaboration with Dr. William Giannobile, I've studied and published the use of biomarkers to predict periodontal disease progression in a longitudinal study design, and the use of biomarkers to evaluate the wound healing of an intra-oral soft tissue engineered material. Currently, in collaboration with Dr. Steven Offenbacher, I've studied and published the use of biomarkers to predict disease progression in a modern experimental gingivitis model. In addition, I've been studying the genes related to early wound healing during osseointegration of dental implants.
3. What are some future directions of your research program?
During the Spring/2015 I will initiate a 5-year translational research project aiming to evaluate the impact of selected SNPs on chronic periodontal disease pathogenesis with the purpose to contribute to the development of personalized dentistry.
4. What influence did the support from the Foundation have on your career as a researcher?
I've been fortunate with the support that the Foundation has given me since my training at the University of Michigan when I was awarded with the Abram and Sylvia Chasens Teaching and Research Fellowship along with the Balint Orban Memorial Competition in 2010. In 2013, the Foundation awarded me with the Fellowship to the ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching & Learning in the Health Professions and the prestigious Teaching Fellowship. Additional to the exceptional financial incentive, receiving the awards from the Foundation gave me recognition, and most importantly, affirmation to continue my Academic path.