• June 7, 2016
Students Marybeth Francis, Angelica Lagunas Earn AADR Fellowships

DMD/PhD students Marybeth Francis and Angelica Lagunas are two of only 16 dental students from across the United States to earn 2016 American Association for Dental Research (AADR) Fellowships.

The Fellowships encourage dental students to consider careers in oral health research, and students must present research proposals to be eligible. Winners each receive a stipend of $2,100. Their research must be completed in two years, and then the students present their findings at an AADR annual meeting and receive another $600.

Francis noted that Dr. Lyndon Cooper, Associate Dean for Research and Head of Oral Biology, “encouraged all of us presenting at the AADR meeting in Los Angeles this year to apply for this Fellowship.”

The application was “comprised of an essay, letters of recommendation, and a research proposal,” Lagunas said. 

Francis explained that her project “focuses on understanding the mechanism as to why periodontitis is more dramatic in diabetic patients than in healthy patients,” and that she and her team already have some results.

“Our studies thus far have provided epigenetic mechanistic information regarding the functional links between diabetes and periodontitis that will hopefully provide the basis for future therapeutics to improve periodontal health in these patients,” Francis said.

Lagunas said that her research is on “paracrine regulation of novel oral cancer stem cell populations.” Paracrine signaling is a form of cell-to-cell communications in which a cell induces changes in nearby cells.

The stipend will help Lagunas “further my research experience by attending more conferences.” Francis also would like to use the money to attend more conferences. 

In addition, she said, “This stipend will help fund lab supplies needed to finish my experiments. Antibodies are more expensive than I thought! These funds will also allow me to spend more time at the micro-CT [computed tomography] facility at Rush University. We have many samples to scan and analyze but not always enough money to do everything we would like.”

Lagunas noted that even the application process itself was beneficial. “I got the opportunity to write a research proposal, which helps me with my scientific writing,” she said. 

She also was pleased that “The UIC College of Dentistry gets national recognition by having students win this award,” Lagunas said.

The AADR gives out 20 or fewer student research fellowships each year.

“Since 2004 there have been only two recipients from UIC,” Francis said. “Angelica and I are very honored to put UIC back on the board in 2016. We are doing exciting research here and UIC needs to be recognized for the support that made it possible.”

“I would like to encourage more students in the College of Dentistry who are active in a research project to apply for this award,” Lagunas concluded. “There are numerous people in the College who are willing to encourage and aid students to prepare a successful application.

The Fellowships are supported by 3M ESPE Dental Products; AADR and International Association for Dental Research group chapters, sections, and members; the American Academy of Periodontology; Colgate-Palmolive Co.; Crest Oral-B and P&G Professional Oral Health; DENTSPLY International; GlaxoSmithKline; and the Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division.

For more information, log on to www.aadronline.org.

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