Dugoni School Researchers Awarded Grants to Study Impact of Smoking on Oral Health

July 30, 2019


Two research projects at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently received funding from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), an agency of the state of California. The most recent funds will support research into whether cigarette smoke — and nicotine in particular — impairs the regenerative abilities of human dental pulp stem cells, and make the dental pulp more vulnerable to damage from inflammation.

Dr. Nan (Tori) Xiao, assistant professor in the school's Department of Biomedical Sciences, received a two-year grant of approximately $500,000 from the TRDRP. The grant will cover salaries, research supplies and other related costs on the project "Impact of cigarette smoking on dental pulp mesenchymal stem cells mediated tissue regeneration." Dr. Tamer Alpagot, professor of periodontics, and Dr. David Ojcius, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, are co-investigators on the project.

This is the second research grant from the TRDRP recently awarded to the Dugoni School. The first grant was awarded to support postdoctoral researcher Dr. Cássio Almeida da Silva, who received a $175,000 fellowship. His project will evaluate the effects of cigarette smoke extracts (CSE) on inflammasome activation in oral cells uninfected or infected with two common oral pathogens.

"Research on the health effects of smoking and vaping is an emerging research focus of the Dugoni School," said Dr. Ojcius. "Other faculty members have recently submitted applications to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and other foundations to support research on the health hazards of vaping, and more applications are planned."

Cigarette consumption is a worldwide issue that has severe health impacts, including on the oral cavity. Among other effects, smoking has been reported to increase the death of stem cells and suppress their regeneration. One goal of the research at the school is to help dentists make more accurate prognoses, provide better-personalized treatment plans, and significantly reduce the socioeconomic cost of dental treatment for cigarette-smoking patients.

The TRDRP funds research that enhances understanding of tobacco use, prevention and cessation, the social, economic and policy-related aspects of tobacco use, and tobacco-related diseases in California. As one of three state agencies that work together towards the vision of a tobacco-free California, it aims to reduce the human and economic costs of tobacco use through innovative research and information dissemination. Learn more about the TRDRP's initiatives and prestigious grants at www.trdrp.org.


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Categories: Administration, Awards, Community Impact, Faculty, Research, 2019