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WesternU College of Dental Medicine holds second Research Day

by Rodney Tanaka

April 17, 2024

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Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine held its second annual Research Day April 11, 2024 to highlight the work of students and faculty.

CDM Research Day speaker Dr. Valerie Murrah (left) and CDM Dean Dr. Elizabeth Andrews.

CDM Dean Elizabeth Andrews, DDS, MS, said it’s exciting to see Research Day evolve from a concept to an event now in its second year.

“Making sure we’re highlighting what we do as a College and as a profession is extremely important,” Andrews said. “So that’s why I’ve been in alignment with our team that came to me with this idea, Dr. Jill Lewis and Dr. James Borke, that we need to have this annual event. Research is an integral part of the College’s footprint and we want to make sure to demonstrate and share what we’re doing as we go forward.”

Andrews then introduced keynote speaker Valerie Murrah, DMD, MA, MS, MBA, Chair, Division of Diagnostic Sciences, Adams School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina, and one of Andrews’ mentors. Murrah presented “Oral Cancer Research:  The Impact on Clinical Dental Practice.”

CDM Professor Michel Baudry, PhD, talks about his Calpain research at the second annual CDM Research Day.

CDM Research Day also featured a presentation by CDM Professor Michel Baudry on his 46 years of research on Calpain and the mechanisms of learning and memory.

Students presented their research posters to an attentive audience. Fourth-year CDM student Sebastian Lucar presented “Exploring a View in Academic Dentistry as a Route to Promote Greater Future Dental Care,” which he co-authored with CDM Associate Professor Keith Boyer, DDS.

CDM student Sebastian Lucar (left) presented a poster at the CDM Research Day.

Lucar said he enjoys the learning aspect of research, and it also helps broaden the borders of your field.

“As a student, you build habits early in your career,” Lucar said. “You always want to base your treatment on the latest literature out there. You don’t want to select a treatment blindly. You should get in the habit of being curious about what research is out there.”

Master of Science in Medical Sciences students Arbab Alam (left) and Sukhjinder Momi present their research poster at CDM Research Day.

Master of Science in Medical Sciences students Arbab Alam and Sukhjinder Momi co-authored “Investigating Gene Expression Alterations in Cancer Cells Exposed to Blue Light Treatment” with CDM Assistant Dean for Biomedical Sciences Research Jill Lewis, PhD, and CDM Laboratory Manager Daniel Enriquez.

The research project showed them a different way to look at health care and provided insight into the science behind future developments, Sukhjinder said.

Alam said Research Day is fun.

“I get to see what my other colleagues are doing. I learn more and hopefully they learn from me,” Alam said. “We can bounce ideas off each other.”

Second-year CDM student Moura Ghattas presented a poster at CDM Research Day.

Second-year CDM student Moura Ghattas presented “A Review of the Correlation between Temporomandibular Joint Disease and Cognition,” which she co-authored with CDM Assistant Dean for Biomedical Sciences Curriculum Dalia Seleem, DDS, PhD, and CDM Assistant Professor Miou Zhou, PhD.

Ghattas said she worked in a research lab and completed research projects as an undergrad prior to her arrival at WesternU. Her future patients deserve her investigation into topics that could potentially affect them, she said.

“In dental school we learn about the basics, all the guidelines and rules, and we are pushed to do well on education,” Ghattas said. “We also need to be pushed to work more on research. Something that might work for one patient may not work for another. You need to know your backups and you need to be able to convince a patient this treatment is good, this has a lot of research and studies on it.”

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