Yong-Hee Patricia Chun, DDS, PhD, 2003 Chasens Fellow, 2014 Sunstar Fellow:
1. What is your research focus?
My research focuses on the formation of enamel associated developmental deformities, such as amelogenesis imperfecta and molar-incisor hypomineralization. Enamel is the highest biomineral of the human body. Its formation relies on enamel proteins that guide crystal growth. One of the enamel proteins is ameloblastin.
2. What has/have been the most significant contributions of your research to our specialty?
In structural studies with ameloblastin we found that it has multiple cleavage sites that are recognized by the enamel proteinases matrix metalloproteinase 20 and kallikrein 4. Using mouse models we found that the correct concentration of ameloblastin is critical for proper enamel formation. We have developed protocols with microcomputed tomography to quantify the kinetics of mineral volume and density during enamel formation.
3. What are some future directions of your research program?
I am interested in the interrelationships of enamel and developmentally derived tissues such as the junctional epithelium and tissues in close proximity to ameloblasts such as the periodontal ligament, cementum and alveolar bone.
4. What influence did the support from the foundation have on your career as a researcher?
The AAP Foundation is a fantastic platform to meet clinician scientists from other dental school to exchange experiences and to collaborate. These interactions are critical to mentor and educate the next generation of periodontists and clinician scientists, and to collaborate on research project.