School of Dentistry

Research and Research Training

PhD Student Avathamsa Athirasala with her winning Research Day poster

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.

In the news

Dr. Stephanie Momeni

Dr. Stephanie Momeni was featured in ASM (American Society for Microbiology) "Follow Your Passion" Spotlight for November 2022. She is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Dr. Hui Wu's Lab. Her research is focused on investigating the role of oral microbiota on overall human health. Dr. Momeni's current postdoctoral research is concentrated on the identification and role of novel metabolites in early childhood caries.

OHSU School of Dentistry offers monthly lectures to share new and ongoing research with students, faculty, staff, and the greater community. The Dean's Research Seminars provide an opportunity to learn from and connect with distinguished speakers in the area of oral health research from respected institutions worldwide. Speakers are hosted by OHSU School of Dentistry faculty, and regularly offer Continuing Education (CE) credits for alumni and the greater dental community. On a quarterly basis, the School of Dentistry offers Faculty Research Seminars, wherein current OHSU SOD faculty share information and current research from their labs and specific areas of expertise. At the beginning of each school year, OHSU SOD research faculty also present a Meet the Mentor seminar, introducing students to research activities and opportunities throughout the school.

Dean's and Faculty's Seminars will be hosted virtually until further notice, and are streamed and recorded for viewing on the SoD Research Echo360 page.

We are excited to announce Dr. David Kohn will be joining us a guest speaker for the next Dean's Seminar. Please join us in-person at the OHSU School of Dentistry on Monday, December 5, 2022 at 12 noon.

Bacteriology Research Group

SoD hosts a monthly Bacteriology Research Group, featuring discussion and presentations by faculty and staff in this field across the OHSU campus and beyond. Most sessions are held on the 3rd Friday of the month at 1:00pm. Please contact Stephanie Momeni , Postdoctoral Scholar in Dr. Hui Wu's lab, for more information.

Researchers in Dr. Bertassoni's lab
SOD PORT program track director Dr. Luiz Bertassoni (r) oversees tissue engineering research in his lab.

In July 2021, OHSU School of Dentistry was awarded the $3.8 million, 5 year T90/R90 Institutional Training Grant from the National Institute of Dental and Oral and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The grant funds the Portland Oral Health Research Training (PORT) program, led by Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Hui Wu, which will fill an important gap among training programs at OHSU and will strengthen cross-school, -institutional research, particularly in microbe-host interactions, biomaterials and tissue engineering, and clinical and translational research in TMJ and pain modulation. Read more about our PORT program training grant.

PORT Program Requirements and Activities

The OHSU SOD Portland Oral Health Research Training (PORT) Program is a PreDoctoral, Dual Degree, PostDoctoral, and Foreign-Trained Dentist coordinated mentored research fellowship training program in oral and craniofacial health research.

OHSU SOD provides a highly productive, interdisciplinary team science environment augmented with with partners from other OHSU Schools and local institutions serving as active participants in the PORT program. The program provides an enriching experience for trainees, one that prepares them for a long and fulfilling academic and professional career in oral health research. 

PORT trainees in all tracks will be expected to participate in PORT activities that will advance their knowledge and experience in research, including:

  • Establishment of an Individual Development Plan, in consultation with PORT program mentor;
  • Participation in the PORT journal club;
  • Presentation of an abstract at the PORT Trainee Seminar Series;
  • Presentation at the SOD's annual Research Day in March;
  • Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research;
  • Participation in a grant writing program;
  • Submission of an NIH individual fellowship application (e.g. F30 or K99/R00).

The PORT program provides training through four main tracks, offering research training and support at Pre- through Post-Doctoral levels of research:

PreDoctoral Training Track (PhD Program)

The PORT PreDoctoral track supports students pursuing a PhD through one of two OHSU graduate programs, Biomedical Engineering (BME), and the interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences (PBMS). Participants in this track will have research focused around one of the PORT program's three main research themes: biomaterials, tissue engineering/regenerative medicine; microbiology and microbiome; and clinical and translational research in pain modulation in TMJ. 

Contact PORT PreDoctoral Track director Dr. Luiz Bertassoni for more information. 

PostDoctoral Training Track

This program offers to different sub-tracks of training:

  1. Traditional PostDoctoral training for candidates (DMD/DDS, DMD/DDS/MS, DMD/DDS/PhD, MD/PhD, or PhD) with a focused research experience in oral health within a productive and collegial research-intensive laboratory; and
  2. PostDoctoral Master's in Clinical Translational Research or Community Health Program. 

Contact PORT PostDoctoral Track director Dr. Justin Merritt (Traditional Sub-track 1) or Dr. Laura Iwasaki (Clinical Sub-track 2) for more information.

Dual Degree Training Track

This seven-year program offers students the opportunity to obtain a dual degree (DMD/PhD) in an oral health relevant research area through the SOD (DMD degree) and OHSU BME or PBMS graduate programs (PhD degree). 

Contact PORT Dual Degree Track director Dr. Carmem Pfeifer for more information. 

Foreign-Trained Dentist Training Track

This program offers foreign-trained dentists with a DDS or DMD degree from an accredited foreign institution the opportunity to receive research training while pursuing a PhD degree in OHSU's BME or PBMS graduate programs, or the opportunity to pursue PostDoctoral training, similar to that outlined in the PostDoctoral track description. 

Contact PORT Foreign-Trained Dentist Track director Dr. Jens Kreth for more information. 

PORT Trainee Applicants

The OHSU SOD Portland Oral Health Research Training (PORT) Program, a Pre-Doctoral, Dual Degree, Post-Doctoral, and Foreign-Trained Dentist coordinated mentored research fellowship training program in oral and craniofacial health research, is accepting applications for the 2022-2023 academic year. Please consult with your current or potential research mentor(s) before completing the application form. A list of mentors currently collaborating with the PORT program can be found below.

The form requests that you provide a statement of your research interests (3 pages max) including: Introduction; statement of the problem/significance; objectives; approach, and project relevant to the PORT focus areas (Oral and Craniofacial Health; Biomaterials or Tissue Engineering; Microbiology and Immunology; and/or Community Health). In addition, please upload the following documents: 1) Your CV/resume; 2) Your mentor's Biosketch; 3) your mentor's Other Support document showing their external grants and funding sources; and 4) at least two letters of support: one from your mentor and at least one additional letter of support or recommendation from a previous mentor or faculty member familiar with your research and interests. 

Please complete the following application form to indicate your interest in the program: OHSU SOD PORT T90/R90 Trainee Application

Questions? Please contact PORT Program Director and SOD Associate Dean for Research Dr. Hui Wu with programmatic/scientific questions, or SOD Senior Grants & Contracts Coordinator, Tarn Allen with any administrative questions or issues with this form. 

PORT Faculty Directors and Mentors

The PORT Program has assembled a broad cadre of mentors, many of whom are faculty within the OHSU School of Dentistry, but also include faculty from across OHSU, as well as external Oregon institutions Portland State University (PSU), Oregon State University (OSU), and University of Oregon (UO), enabling trainees access innovative and collaborative research mentorship across the entire state. The PORT program mentors are:

PORT Program Directors and Mentors:

  • Hui Wu, Ph.D., Weight Endowed Professor and Associate Dean for Research, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT Program Director
  • Jack Ferracane, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Restorative Dentistry, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT Program Co-Director
  • Luiz Bertassoni, D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT PreDoctoral Track Director
  • Jens Kreth, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT Foreign-Trained Dentist Track Director
  • Justin Merritt, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT PostDoctoral Track Director, basic science sub-track
  • Laura Iwasaki, D.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT PostDoctoral Track Co-Director, clinical sub-track
  • Carmem Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D., Weight Endowed Professor of Restorative Dentistry and Director of the Division of Biomaterials and Biomechanics, OHSU School of Dentistry, PORT Dual Degree Track Director

PORT Faculty Mentors:

  • Alejandro Aballay, Ph.D., OHSU Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
  • Adam Alani, M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor, OSU College of Pharmacy 
  • Kimberly Beatty, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Carlos Crespo, Dr.P.H., Professor and Vice Provost, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
  • Summer Gibbs, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Joe Gray, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Robert Guldberg, Professor and Executive Director, Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, University of Oregon 
  • Mary Heinricher, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean for Basic Research, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Marian Hettiaratchi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, University of Oregon
  • Monica Hinds, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Dipankar Koley, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OSU Department of Chemistry 
  • Molly Kulesz-Martin, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU Department of Dermatology
  • Kirsten Lampi, M.Sc., Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry
  • Tianyi Mao, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OHSU Vollum Institute
  • Owen McCarty, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Andriy Morgun, Ph.D., M.D., Associate Professor, OSU College of Pharmacy 
  • David Morton, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry
  • Michiko Nakano, Ph.D., Research Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry
  • Karina Nakayama, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Xiaolin Nan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Brooke Napier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, PSU Department of Biology 
  • Timothy Nice, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OHSU Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
  • Jeffrey Nickel, D.M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., OHSU School of Dentistry
  • James Prell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UO Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry 
  • Georgiana Purdy, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OHSU Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
  • Steve Reichow, Ph.D., Associate Professor, PSU Department of Chemistry 
  • Rosalie Sears, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics
  • Natalia Shulzhenko, Ph.D., M.D., Associate Professor, OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences 
  • Robert Strongin, Ph.D., Professor, PSU Department of Chemistry 
  • Conroy Sun, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OSU College of Pharmacy 
  • Oleh Taratula, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OSU College of Pharmacy 
  • Marina Wolf, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Ying Wu, D.D.S., M.S.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry
  • Zheng Xia, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OHSU Computational Biology
  • Liman Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Haining Zhong, Ph.D., Associate Professor, OHSU Vollum Institute
  • Peter Zuber, Ph.D., Professor, OHSU School of Dentistry