School of Dentistry


The OHSU School of Dentistry encourages and supports research concerning dental disease, clinical techniques, oral biology, and basic biomedical research. More than twenty principal investigators and numerous technical staff pursue a wide variety of projects, ranging in scope from the basic mechanisms of diseases to evidence-based dental treatment. Research projects are funded by Federal grants (NIH, NSF, NASA) as well as a variety of corporate sponsors. All basic science and clinical research faculty have their primary appointments, teaching commitments, and laboratories at OHSU in the School of Dentistry. For further information and opportunities for research, contact the principal investigators or the Office of Research Affairs at the School of Dentistry.

The research done in the labs of OHSU's School of Dentistry is bringing to light amazing discoveries that are elevating dental healthcare. Scientists at the OHSU School of Dentistry are contributing to several areas of study, including but not limited to, the synthesis and development of new biomaterials for the replacement of lost or damaged oral tissues, cell and developmental biology, oral microbiology, and immunology.

Welcome from the Associate Dean of Research

Dr. Hui Wu

“The labs that are a part of OHSU's School of Dentistry are devoted to conducting cutting-edge research in dentistry as well as fostering the development of young investigators and trainees in clinical research. Our multidisciplinary team is comprised of clinical investigators, laboratory scientists, and public health experts who are committed to the advancement of dental healthcare.

The facilities of our labs are state-of-the-art, and they provide a fantastic venue for discovery. Interdisciplinary collaboration with other OHSU research offices creates an environment of limitless innovation. The School of Dentistry often works with the School of Medicine and the Knight Cancer Institute on groundbreaking projects.”

Associate Dean of Research, Hui Wu, Ph.D.

Labs by research focus

Photo of scientist pipetting

Biomaterials, tissue engineering and regeneration

Scientists at OHSU School of Dentistry are studying the synthesis and development of new biomaterials for the replacement of lost or damaged oral tissues. This research includes the development of new materials for tooth repair, such as resin-based dental adhesives and restoratives having enhanced durability, antimicrobial behavior and remineralizing potential. The team is actively involved in research involving the interaction between dental biomaterials and oral biofilms to produce material solutions with enhanced clinical longevity and performance. Another strategy involves the use of 3D bioprinting of scaffolds containing cells and bioactive molecules for tissue regeneration.

Neuroscience, cell and development biology

In addition to research focused directly on issues of oral health, there is a significant research focus on basic biomedical research questions, in particular in neuroscience, cell and developmental biology. OHSU School of Dentistry scientists have research programs that explore the mechanisms underlying pain, neurodegeneration, cell fate specification, morphogenesis and cell signaling. These areas of research impact all aspects of human health and disease, including, but not limited to, oral health and biology.

Oral microbiology and immunology

Research in the Oral Microbiology and Immunology domain at OHSU School of Dentistry is focused upon the genetics, ecology, and host responses to the oral microbiome in both health and disease. This includes fundamental molecular microbiology studies of both commensal and pathogenic oral microbiota as well as the ecological interactions occurring among the microbiome and with the host. Studies of the host response to infection include a focus upon innate immunity and its role in promoting oral diseases. Another research focus within this cluster is concerned with the interface of dental biomaterials and oral biofilms. The goal is to better understand the reciprocal interactions that affect both the integrity of the dental materials and the behavior of the organisms colonizing the surfaces of the materials.

Public health dentistry, education, informatics and clinical research

As the Chair of Community Dentistry, Dr. Eli Schwarz states "Oregon is our laboratory." OHSU School of Dentistry provides outreach and cutting edge technology at on-campus OHSU dental clinics in Portland, and across the far reaches of the state, developing strategic collaborations with rural partners and incorporating teledentistry to ensure that quality oral health care is available for all Oregonians. Community and clinical research endeavors advance knowledge of topics that affect oral health, including nutrition and opioid use. Clinical and community researchers in SOD work in tandem with basic scientists to develop clinical-translational research methods that will have long-lasting effects in the field of dentistry.