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Dugoni researchers win grants to study effects of smoking on oral health

Aug 7, 2019

Two research projects at University of the Pacific's Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco received state grants to learn more about the potential effects of smoking on oral health.

Dr. Nan (Tori) Xiao, assistant professor in the school's Department of Biomedical Sciences, received a two-year Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) grant of about $500,000. The research will look into whether cigarette smoke - and nicotine in particular - impairs the ability of human dental pulp stem cells to regenerate making the dental pulp more vulnerable to damage from inflammation. The grant covers salaries, research supplies and other related costs. Dr. Tamer Alpagot, professor of periodontics, and Dr. David Ojcius, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, are co-investigators on the project.

An earlier TRDRP grant was awarded to support postdoctoral researcher Dr. Cássio Almeida da Silva, who received a $175,000 fellowship. His project will evaluate the effects of cigarette smoke extracts (CSE) on inflammasome activation in oral cells uninfected or infected with two common oral pathogens.

"Research on the health effects of smoking and vaping is an emerging research focus of the Dugoni School," said Ojcius. "Other faculty members have recently submitted applications to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and other foundations to support research on the health hazards of vaping, and more applications are planned."

Cigarette consumption is a worldwide issue that has severe health impacts, including on oral health. Among other effects, smoking has been reported to increase the death of stem cells and suppress their regeneration. One goal of the research at the school is to help dentists make more accurate prognoses, provide better-personalized treatment plans, and significantly reduce the socioeconomic cost of dental treatment for cigarette-smoking patients.

TRDRP funds research that enhances understanding of tobacco use, prevention and cessation, the social, economic and policy-related aspects of tobacco use, and tobacco-related diseases in California. As one of three state agencies that work together toward a tobacco-free California, TRDRP aims to reduce the human and economic costs of tobacco use through innovative research and information dissemination. Learn more about the TRDRP's initiatives and prestigious grants at www.trdrp.org.

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