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CCRD Research

Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering In previous studies we have generated and characterized stem cell populations in dental tissues. We have also developed novel extracellular matrix-based scaffold materials. Currently we are performing a number of studies to examine the use of stem cells and scaffolds to regenerate periodontal and other tissues.

Chromatin, Epigenetics, and microRNAs Twenty years ago, we discovered the cp27 chromatin factor in our laboratory. This factor is part of the large SRCAP chromatin complex that plays important roles in development and cell division. A second aspect of our epigenetics research is focused on the role of histone methylation in odontogenic tissue differentiation and disease.

Craniofacial Development Currently, we are using a number of mouse models to understand genetic and epigenetic factors involved in craniofacial development and disease.

Periodontics Our lab works on the development and differentiation of periodontal tissues as a means to generate new progenitor based approaches for the regeneration of periodontal tissues. More recently, we have conducted studies to understand how epigenetic changes affect periodontal tissue response to pathogens.

Enamel Formation and Evolution Our lab is interested in determining the mechanisms of enamel crystal formation. We are asking how mineral ions are transported toward the enamel layer and what factors govern the nucleation and elongation of enamel crystals. Using an evolutionary biology approach, we are studying the relationship between the amelogenin molecule and enamel mechanical properties.

Evolution and Development Our lab focuses on the evolution of jaws and teeth, especially tooth enamel and periodontal ligament. Specifically, we are interested in the effects of changes in the amelogenin protein on the evolution of the amazing physical properties of enamel. We are also trying to understand how the non-mineralized state of the periodontal ligament evolved in vertebrates.

History of Science Based on our roots in the methodical culturalism of the Erlangen school, we have an interest in the genesis of scientific schools and disciplines from a cultural perspective.

Orthodontics and Tooth Movement This aspect of our lab focuses on the model system of the un-opposed molar and the scholarly legacy left by Allan G. Brodie. The un-opposed model has been brought to Illinois by Harry Sicher and Joseph-Peter Weinmann, two of pre-war Vienna’s most prominent scholars. Today, this model provides an intriguing venue to study the molecular mechanisms involved in tooth movement and drift.