Luciana Shaddox, DDS, MS, PhD, 2010 Teaching Fellow:

1. What is your research focus?

I have two main areas of research. Our main research project, funded by NIH/NIDCR is focused on immunological response, microbiological profile and genetics/epigenetics characteristics of localized aggressive periodontitis in children/adolescents. My other research focus is understanding the relationship of type II Diabetes and periodontal disease and how periodontal treatment can affect it.

2. What has/have been the most significant contribution(s) of your research to our specialty?

We have been able to gather a large cohort of African-Americans diagnosed with localized aggressive periodontitis. We have found that patients with this disease present a hyper-inflammatory response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide, which may contribute to the aggressive tissue destruction observed in this disease. Additionally, some of the healthy siblings of the diseased patients also present this hyper-inflammatory response, which could dictate future initiation of disease.

3. What are some future directions of your research program?

Due to the presence of this hyper-inflammatory response in the healthy siblings of diseased individuals, we believe possible genetic markers may be predisposing these young patients to this inflammatory response and thus to a greater disease susceptibility. Our focus now will be aimed at expanding this cohort to tease out possible genetic markers and epigenetic changes related to specific inflammatory mechanisms that may be playing a role in this disease.

4. What influence did the support from the Foundation have on your career as a researcher?

The AAP foundation recognition of my potential to succeed as an academician has provided me with additional confidence and ability to keep moving forward with my academic goals and definitely reinforced my passion for the career I have chosen.

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Past Award Winners Update

Congratulations to Gustavo Avila-Ortiz, DDS, MS, PhD, 2011 Teaching Fellow and 2009 AAPF Fellow to the ADEA/AAL Institute for Teaching and Learning in the Health Professions, who recently was appointed Department Chair (DEO) and promoted to Professor at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, Department of Periodontics.