Science Day Keynote Highlights Biomaterials in Clinical Trials, Five Winners Announced

(l-r) Associate Dean for Research Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Dr. David J. Mooney, and Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter
(l-r) Associate Dean for Research Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Dr. David J. Mooney, and Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter

Biomaterials can be used in clinical trials to serve as cell carriers or attractors of host cell populations, and to then program the cells in vivo—that is the premise Dr. David J. Mooney presented at Science Day Thursday, March 13, 2014. Dr. Mooney is Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering and Core Faculty Member, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

Dr. Mooney discussed the potential of biomaterials to regulate cell biology in processes as diverse as tissue regeneration and therapeutic cancer vaccines in the keynote lecture, “Controlling biology with biomaterials: from bone regeneration to cancer vaccines.”

“There are hundreds of clinical trials of cell therapy currently underway, but simple cell infusions lead to large-scale cell death, little control over cell fate, and a typically poor clinical outcome,” said Dr. Mooney.

Mooney’s laboratory is focused on the design and synthesis of biomaterials that regulate the fate of either cells already resident in the body, or transplanted cell populations.

Science Day is a research celebration featuring posters and oral presentations by pre- and post-doctoral dental students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty and staff. Running concurrently with Science Day was a Vendor Fair that featured 16 exhibitors displaying products and organization information. The event is free and open to the public.

Science Day winners were awarded in five categories:

Pre-doctoral poster:
Daniel Moynihan DMD 15, Dr. Anita Gohel, Dr. Paul Rigali, Dr. Neal Fleisher, Sharon Rich, and Dr. Leslie Will. Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: “Using a cone beam CT scan to evaluate periodontal bone height”

Pre-doctoral oral presentation:
Mohamed Bayoumy DMD 16, Dr. Kiyoshi Sakai and Dr. Yoshihiko Yamada. Department of Molecular Biology Section at NIDCR: “The correlative role of epiprofin and Tbx1 in tooth proliferation and differentiation”

Post-doctoral poster:
Mohammed Badri ORAL BIO 14, Dr. Honghao Zhang, Dr. Nobuhiro Kamiya, Dr. Sundharamani Venkitapathi, Dr. Yoshio Ohyama, Dr. Takehito Tsuji, Dr. Tetsuo Kunieda, Dr. Yuji Mishina, and Dr. Yoshiyuki Mochida. Department of Molecular and Cell Biology: “Role of Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome2 (Evc2) in craniofacial development”

Post-doctoral oral presentation:
Na Tian PERIO 14, Dr. Joshua Hansen, Dr. Dan Leffler, Dr. Ciaran Kelly, and Dr. Eva Helmerhorst. Department of Molecular and Cell Biology: “Assessment of potential gluten-like properties of salivary proline-rich proteins”

Fellow poster presentation:
Dr. Michael Dion, Dr. Bing Liu, Dr. Laura Kaufman, Dr. Steven Karpas, and Dr. Judith Jones. Department of General Dentistry: “Xerostomia and salivary hypofunction in vulnerable elders: complications and management”

Judges, presenters, and mentors are invited to attend the Science Day Awards Luncheon on Thursday, April 10, 2014, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Hiebert Lounge.

Mooney is the Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is a Founding Core Faculty Member, Platform Lead, Programmable Nanomaterials at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

Dr. Mooney earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin and PhD in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. He has won numerous research awards and received the Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard College. His inventions have been licensed by 11 companies, and he is active on industrial scientific advisory boards.

Photos of Science Day and the Vendor Fair are available on Facebook and Flickr.