GSDM’s Dr. Na Tian Wins First Place on Russek Student Achievement Day

Dr. Na Tian
Dr. Na Tian

Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) post-doctoral student Na Tian ORAL BIO & PERIO 14 recently won first place in the Russek Student Achievement Award for Oral Biology. Dr. Tian was honored at the 19th Annual Henry I. Russek Student Achievement Day on Friday, May 10, 2013 in the Hiebert Lounge. Sundharamani Venkitapathi ORAL BIO 14 also received an honorable mention in the same category. Russek Student Achievement Day honors Boston University post-doctoral students’ research efforts with a poster session and oral presentations.

Dr. Eva Helmerhorst, Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontology & Oral Biology, supervised Dr. Tian’s research. Dr. Tian presented her project, “Oral Rothia Bacteria Enzymes Show Novel Therapeutic Perspectives for Celiac Disease,” on Russek Student Achievement Day.

In the study, they found that certain bacteria from the oral cavity harbor enzymes that degrade gliadin and gliadin-derived immunogenic peptides that are otherwise resistant to mammalian digestive enzymes. They also discovered that this degradation reduces the recognition of these peptides by human tissue transglutaminase. This is a strong indication of gluten epitope neutralization. The discovered microbial enzyme activities open promising new avenues in the search for novel therapies to neutralize the deleterious effects of gluten in celiac disease patients.

“I feel so honored to have received the Russek Student Achievement Award,” said Dr. Tian. “Thanks to my supervisor Dr. Eva Helmerhorst for her excellent mentoring and support, Drs. Guoxian Wei and Frank Oppenheim, with whom I worked on this project, and our collaborator Dr. Detlef Schuppan from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.”