Four UF College of Dentistry faculty received UF Faculty Enhancement Opportunity (FEO) awards for Summer and Fall of 2009: Thomas A. Brown, Ph.D.; Frank Catalanotto, D.M.D.; Lexie Holliday, Ph.D.; and Mary Stavropoulos, D.D.S.
Thomas A. Brown, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Oral Biology and joined the college in 1984. Brown’s FEO will allow him to gain advanced training in microbial biofilm analysis during a four-day Medical Biofilm Techniques Workshop at the Danish Technical University in Lyngby, Denmark, in August. Following the workshop, Brown will spend two months developing techniques for real-time imaging of biofilm growth in collaboration with Scott Grieshaber, Ph.D., using a confocal microscope in the Oral Biology Department at the college.
In nature, most microbes form “biofilm communities” attached to solid surfaces. This can range from microbes attached to rocks in a flowing stream, to pathogens in indwelling medical catheters, to the organisms that form dental plaque in the mouth that are associated with carries and periodontal disease. Once microbes are established in a biofilm community, they can become 1000 times more resistant to antibiotics and possibly host immunity.
Brown and Grieshaber are interested in how host immunity affects the bacteria that form on teeth. During the workshop, Brown will learn how to take series of images that provide a 3-D view of the biofilm structure in very thin sections, like a medical CT scan. This new technique, and the data it provides, can be included in NIH applications to provide future research funding.
Frank Catalanotto, D.M.D., is a professor in the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Sciences and joined the college in 1995. Catalanotto will use his FEO Award to attend an intensive, internationally known, five-day Bioethics Course at Georgetown University in June that introduces participants to the philosophical underpinnings of bioethics and current major topics in that field pertaining to medical practice, law and public policy. The course is designed to provide participants with a solid decision-making framework in clinical, research and policy arenas.
Catalanotto, who is the course director for the first year dental course DEN 5013 – Foundations of Professionalism, will then incorporate the framework into his course with a focus on access-to-care issues in the dental profession and also professional/healthcare ethics.
Shannon Holliday, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Orthodontics and joined the college in 1998. His research focus is in the area of bone biology, particularly in regards to the mechanisms behind pathological bone loss associated with osteoporosis, bone cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal diseases. In the past Holliday’s work has focused on in vitro models but his research is moving in the direction of testing in genetically-altered live mice.
Holliday’s FEO award will allow him to work in an Oral Biology lab at the college with David Culp, Ph.D., on vectors required for the construction of a transgenic, replacement knock-in, mouse. He will focus on learning “recombineering,” a molecular technique developed during the last decade that allows subtle alterations to be made in the mouse genome.
Ultimately, Holliday expects the new skill set to expand the scope of his research and moves progress forward toward his goal of identifying new treatments for bone disease.
Mary F. Stavropoulos, D.D.S., is an associate professor in the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Diagnostic Sciences and joined the college in 1998. She will use her FEO award to participate in a fellowship program in the Executive Leadership Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program, a core program of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa.
The ELAM program is a year-long, part-time fellowship that focuses on preparing senior women faculty at academic health centers to move into positions of institutional leadership. Founded in 1985, the program mixes traditional executive seminars and workshops with group and individual projects aimed at developing personal leadership.
At the end of the fellowship, Stavropoulos will design an “Institutional Action Project” based on an institutional goal of the college.
FEOs are intended to advance the academic, professional and scholarly abilities of faculty members and replace the previous system of awarding sabbaticals. While similar to sabbaticals they are intended to be more flexible in nature and duration than traditional sabbaticals.