Lecture signals rebirth of craniofacial research center
Marybeth Francis, a DMD/PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, shared with an audience of clinicians and basic scientists the details of her research into the cellular mechanisms behind exacerbated periodontitis in diabetic patients.
The purpose of Francis’ presentation wasn’t solely to share the connection between this chronic condition and its impact on oral health. Invited to exemplify the renewed focus of the Center for Craniofacial Research and Diagnosis at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, Francis spoke April 16 about a basic science investigation into a clinical problem. That was the point, explained Dr. Thomas Diekwisch, who joined the TAMBCD faculty in December as center director and periodontics chair.
“I was recruited to revive this interplay between clinical practice and basic science as a way to respond to translational research opportunities that can lead to new treatments impacting patient health,” Diekwisch says. “Rather than trying to explain what I wanted to do with the center, I decided to bring a speaker who demonstrates the successful bridging of those areas.”
As a future clinician and basic scientist, Francis espoused the benefits of research within her clinical education. She responded to detailed questions following the presentation, clarifying methodology and explaining scientific processes ranging from epigenetic patterns to proinflammatory genes. She also discussed possible next steps while thanking her mentors in UIC’s Brodie Laboratory.
“I have a different way of thinking about everything,” she said. “Understanding the science as a PhD student helps train my brain in research to apply clinically, because I want to know ‘why.’”
Francis expressed hope that future research will lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic treatments to benefit patients.
About the Center for Craniofacial Research and Diagnosis
The mission of the Center for Craniofacial Research & Diagnosis is to foster scientific discovery through the integration of clinical and basic research within the college and affiliated health centers. The center serves as the home for the basic and translational research enterprise within Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.