Dr. Eva Helmerhorst Delivers Keynote Address at AADR Boston Meeting

Dr. Eva Helmerhorst
Dr. Eva Helmerhorst

Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology Dr. Eva Helmerhorst delivered the keynote lecture at the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) Boston Section Semiannual meeting on December 11, 2013, at Boston University Medical School. More than 30 people attended the meeting.

Boston Section President and Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontology Dr. Robert Gyurko opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and summarizing the Boston Section’s role in the AADR. He described open Boston Chapter Officer positions and began the election process.

The newly elected Boston Section Officers are:

Councilor – Dr. Ricardo Teles, Senior Member of the Staff, Co-Director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Vice Chair in the Department of Applied Oral Health Sciences at Forsyth Institute

Alternate Councilor – Dr. Judith Jones, Professor and Chair in the Department of General Dentistry

Secretary – Dr. Corinna Culler, Director of School-Based Programs

Treasurer – Dr. Frank Gibson, Associate Professor of Microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases

They join current Boston Section Officers:

President – Dr. Robert Gyurko, Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontology

Vice President – Dr. Alpdogan Kantarci, Associate Member of the Staff in the Department of Applied Oral Health Sciences at Forsyth Institute

Dr. Helmerhorst followed the election with her presentation, “Gluten-degrading enzymes in human saliva: novel therapeutic potential for the treatment of celiac disease.” Dr. Helmerhorst discovered that human saliva harbors bacteria that can very effectively cleave gluten. Glutens are important targets since these represent the proteins that cause celiac disease, an inflammatory disease of the small intestine. Her presentation focused on the identification of these bacteria and oral microbiome characterizations in health and celiac disease.

“My research is at the interface of oral and gastrointestinal biology and I was able to show that saliva research is not limited to functions in the oral cavity,” explained Dr. Helmerhorst.

The findings may benefit a large section of the population since celiac disease has a prevalence of about 1%, affecting roughly 3 million Americans. Dr. Helmerhorst stressed that contributing to the success of her project was the multidisciplinary team, which includes Forsyth Institute microbiologists Dr. Floyd Dewhirst and Dr. Bruce Paster and gastroenterologists Dr. Ciaran Kelly and Dr. Dan Leffler from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Helmerhorst said, “It is important that oral biology researchers in the Boston area come together regularly to keep each other updated on their research, and the AADR Boston Chapter meeting is a perfect platform to foster new collaborations.”

Her research was also highlighted in Boston University’s Annual Report video project.

The meeting concluded with a reception where attendees mingled over refreshments.