Dr. Nathalia Garcia, periodontist from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine
Dr. Nathalia Garcia, periodontist from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine (SIU SDM), is a principal investigator for the project titled “Biomarkers of Periodontal Disease Progression.” It is a multi-center study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will award more than $1.2 million to the dental school for its contribution to the overall research.
The SDM’s portion is part of a $20.7 million consortium project. The award’s prime recipient is the Forsyth Institute located in Cambridge, Mass. and associated with Harvard University’s School of Medicine. The study spans five dental research centers. Along with the SDM and the Forsythe Institute, institutions include the University of Michigan, New York University and State University of New York. A total of 500 clinical subjects will take part in the study.
At the SDM, Garcia will be overseeing 60 patients and working with colleagues, including Dr. Douglas Miley, professor of periodontics and implant dentistry and director of the Advanced Program in Periodontics; Dr. Debra Dixon, associate professor and section head of diagnostic sciences; and Dr. M. Jane Gillespie, section head of microbiology and former director of research at the SDM. Three dedicated dental hygienists and a molecular biologist will also participate.
The project will attempt to find shared biomarkers, or indicative characteristics, of the progression of periodontal disease in test subjects, exploring the disease from microbiological, genetic and immunological perspectives. As the study continues, these biomarkers, as well as microbial species found in the subjects, will be compared with measurements of the effects of dental therapy on these recorded characteristics.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, approximately 64.7 million Americans suffer from an advanced form of periodontal disease. Periodontology is the study in dentistry of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of tissues of the teeth and gums. Garcia’s work could lead to new insights and advancements that would affect the long-term health of nearly half of adults in the U.S.