Dental Students Awarded Research Fellowship

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 31, 2010) −  University of Kentucky College of Dentistry students Ken Randall and Adam Reynolds have been selected as two of 22 dental students across the U.S. to receive an American Association for Dental Research (AADR) fellowship for their proposed basic and clinical research related to oral health. The Fellowships are sponsored and administered by the AADR and have been created to encourage dental students living in the U.S.  to consider careers in oral health research.

Randall, a second year dental student, along with his mentors Juan Yepes and Craig Miller, of the Department of Oral Health Practice, proposed a project investigating the perception of dry mouth and its relationship with biomolecules in saliva by studying patients undergoing head and neck radiation for oropharyngeal cancer. The research findings could lead to a better understanding of the causes of dry mouth and the development of new therapies for this condition.

"Dry mouth is one of the most common and debilitating side effects of radiation therapy in the treatment of head and neck cancer," Randall said. "Despite advances that attempt to spare radiation to one set of the major salivary glands, dry mouth persists as a major health care problem."

Co-investigators on the project are Dr. Mahesh Kudrimoti, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine at the UK College of Medicine and Dr. Marcus E. Randall, professor also in the Department of Radiation Medicine. Ken Randall will present his findings at the AADR meeting in San Diego in 2011.

Reynolds, a third year dental student, along with his mentor Cynthia Beeman, associate professor in the Division of  Orthodontics in the College of Dentistry, proposed childhood obesity's influence on skeletal maturation.  Specifically, Reynolds is investigating whether obesity would actually accelerate the growth of the skeleton, in effect causing the growth spurt to occur earlier.

"Orthodontists take measurements of teeth and bones to plan treatment," Reynolds said. "One of the things they are concerned with is how much growth is left in children. They try to predict the amount of growth left and also often try to time certain treatments before or during the peak growth phase of puberty."

Tom Kluemper, associate professor of Orthodontics and Megan McHugh, assistant professor of Orthodontics in the College of Dentistry are co-investigators on the project. Reynolds will present his research at the AADR in San Diego in 2011.

Each proposal submitted to the AADR was evaluated on the basis of creativity of the project, its feasibility and its potential significance to oral health research.