Collaboration with the American Association of Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research provides new avenue for KCU students

By Haley Reardon Jul 10, 2023
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Sharon Gordon, DDS, associate dean for academic affairs and research at Kansas City University (KCU) College of Dental Medicine (CDM), serves as councilor for the Missouri Section of the American Association of Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR). The new section, formed in 2022, strives to stimulate research collaborations across institutions as well as to provide opportunities for students and trainees to engage in research.

Recently, the Missouri section held a virtual research webinar “The Next Generation of Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Researchers in Missouri” which featured four presentations, two of them by KCU Osteopathic Medicine student doctors. The research theme for the webinar was salivary translational research.

KCU student doctors Cole Dattel and Sartia Hira presented their research titled “Substance Use Disorder, the Oral Microbiome, and Associated Medical and Dental Health Outcomes: Future Opportunities to Predict and Prevent Disease in an Underserved Population.” Their study, conducted under the mentorship of Jeffrey Staudinger, PhD, KCU chair of basic sciences, focused on three groups—active methamphetamine users, recovered methamphetamine users and non-methamphetamine users.

Dattel and Hira established a hypothesis that active users would report higher rates of chronic medical and dental disease compared to non-users and that the same group would seek medical and dental care less frequently due to increased barriers to health care. Through their research, they aimed to learn whether these health habits within the study could be tied to certain oral bacteria.

Millie Shah and Kyleigh Getchell, KCU student doctors, presented a summary of their work focused on the validation of salivary cortisol also under the guidance of Staudinger. Their aim was to validate the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) protocol and determine if saliva samples could be used to determine cortisol levels as an indicator of stress.

“This type of forum allows KCU to give our students more exposure beyond our Research Symposium as it enables them to present their research on a larger platform at the regional level,” said Gordon. “Our collaboration with the AADOCR will help put KCU on the national map in the areas of research and scholarly activity. Research gives clinicians the evidence to inform their clinical practice. As faculty, integrating research into our teaching is imperative to help our students, as future clinicians, learn to apply evidence for the best possible patient outcomes,” she continued.

Students entering KCU’s inaugural class for the College of Dental Medicine have the opportunity to participate in research outside of the classroom as early as summer 2023. Two incoming dental students are currently engaged in research projects led by CDM faculty.

Gordon also coordinates judging for the Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and Its Application, a global competition aimed at engaging the next generation of dental professionals. “We look forward to the continued involvement of CDM faculty as judges for this competition,” said Gordon.

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