Emerging Scholars

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Alessandro Villa, DDS, Ph.D, MPH
Assistant Professor of Oral Medicine, Department of General Dentistry 

Dr. Villa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of General Dentistry. He received his DMD from the University of Milano in Italy and his MPH from AT Still University. He later obtained a PhD in Preventative Stomatology from the University of Sassari in Italy.

In 2010 he joined the National Cancer Institute as Postdoctoral fellow in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology branch where he studied the prevalence of oral HPV infection in a large male population and the malignant progression of oral potentially malignant disorders. In 2013 he complete his residency in oral medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Villa is currently studying the oral complications of cancer and cancer treatment and working on a predictive model for oral cancer in patients affected by oral leukoplakia.

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Manish BaisManish Bais, DVM, Ph.D
Research Assistant Professor, Oral Biology and Periodontology

I have a basic degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and a PhD in Animal Biotechnology that provided me with the training to use animal models for in vivo experiments. My post-doctoral studies were in the areas of orthopedics, stem cells, and cancer. In my first post-doc at the BUMC Orthopedic Surgery lab, I worked with Dr. Louis Gerstenfeld and Dr. Thomas Einhorn for two projects, which were to evaluate the role of bone morphogenetic protein 2 in bone healing, and to determine the role of embryonic stem cell related pluripotency factor (Nanog) in post-natal mesenchymal stem cells. For my second post-doc, I am working with Dr. Philip Trackman (Oral Biology and Periodontology) to learn about lysyl oxidase family members.

Recently, lysyl oxidase family members have emerged as multifunctional proteins. In one of our studies, the propeptide region of lysyl oxidase (LOX-PP) has shown to inhibit breast and prostate cancer xenografts in preclinical mouse models, and now we are evaluating its role to inhibit cancer metastasis in different tissues such as bone and lung. Another member of the LOX family, lysyl oxidase like-2 (LOXL2) is a critical regulator of chondrogenesis. The current focus is to use LOXL2 in various therapeutic applications in skeletal disorders. However, LOXL2 also promotes cancer metastasis in different tissues from the primary tumor. Our goal is to design a strategy to inhibit expression of LOXL2 to prevent cancer metastasis. Thus, I am equally interested in developing therapeutics in the area of skeletal disorders and cancer.