December 5, 2016
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry student James Appiah received the award for Most Outstanding Clinical Research Presentation at the Hinman Student Research Symposium at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN. The symposium was held Oct. 28-30 and was co-sponsored by the Hinman Dental Society and the College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
His was the highest score—9.5 out of a possible ten—of all research projects. There were 90 research papers presented from more than 53 dental schools in North America. The competition was for eight awards, four in basic science research and four in clinical research.
Appiah’s research is entitled, “Brain-Derived Neuropathic Factor Secretion from Pulp Fibroblasts Under Carious Injury is Modulated by Complement C5a Receptor and Controls Nerve Regeneration.”
Receptors for C5a were expressed when cultured pulp fibroblasts were stimulated with the bacterial component lipoteichoic acid, resulting in upregulation of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which can stimulate nerve regeneration toward sites of carious injury.
“Since this study helps understand the events at the molecular level that influence the healing and the regeneration of the dentin-pulp complex, this can guide the development of therapeutic interventions to augment this process in carious teeth,” Appiah said. “I hope to be part of the research studies that will discover these innovative therapeutic tools.”
The award, Appiah said, “has encouraged me to do even more and to make research part of my clinical career. It also confirms that the UIC College of Dentistry is the best place for one to put his or her talent to work. Before I came to the College, I had only some experience with clinical research, but not the kind of wet lab bench research I am into now.”
Appiah’s honors came despite a last minute glitch that required his poster to be reprinted at the College the afternoon that he and Dr. Christine Wu, Professor, Pediatric Dentistry, were leaving for Memphis. Dr. Wu noted that Vinay Surpuriya, Senior Network Administrator at Information Technologies, stepped in at the last minute to print the poster and “deserves thanks.”
Appiah’s mentor is Dr. Seung Chung, Assistant Professor of Oral Biology.
“The College gave me the opportunity to partake in the pre-matriculation research program that took me to Dr. Chung’s lab,” Appiah said. “It is amazing how much I have learned.”
Appiah said he wanted “to acknowledge God for strength; my Principal Investigator, Dr. Chung, for accepting me into his lab and mentoring me through all these accomplishments; Dr. Fanny Chmilewsky, the Postdoctoral Fellow in our lab for teaching me the bench research techniques and experiments; and Dr. Wu for spending time, even after hours in the evenings, to practice the presentation with me to make sure I was ready for the competition.”
Dr. Chung noted that Appiah “recently published his work in the Scientific Report, which is a very prestigious journal as well as four additional conference abstracts. James’s poster also was selected as the best Basic Science presentation among predoctoral students at the College’s 2016 Clinic and Research Day.“
Appiah previously attended the University of Ghana Dental School, graduating in 2013 with a DDS. He immigrated to the U.S. in 2014 and is seeking a U.S. dental degree through the College’s DMD-Advanced Standing program.
Photo caption: Left to right are Dr. Bob O’Donnell, President of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Society; student James Appiah; Dr. Franklin Garcia-Godoy, Senior Executive Associate Dean for Research University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center College of Dentistry; Dr. Christine Wu, Professor, Pediatric Dentistry, UIC College of Dentistry; and Dr. Mustafa Dabbous, Professor and founder of the symposium.