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The Future of Oral Health on Display at 38th Annual Research Day

CU Dental Research Day Returns with Innovative Presentations, Award-Winning Discoveries

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Written by Laura Ramsey on February 17, 2023

Dental caries (tooth decay) is a widespread public health issue, especially prevalent in under-resourced communities across the country. Through extensive research, esteemed keynote speaker Carmem Pfeifer, DDS, PhD; professor at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Dentistry aims to improve dental restorations by developing stronger materials that will last longer and perform better than current materials used to treat dental caries. 

Join the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (CU SDM) for its 38th Research Day on Friday, February 24, 2023, to hear Pfeifer’s keynote address, earn four dental CE credits and see the dynamic research being conducted by CU SDM faculty, staff, residents and students on a range of topics related to dentistry and oral health. 

Carmem Pfeifer

Keynote Speaker Carmem Pfeifer, DDS, PhD

"The diversity of strength in research being presented at all career levels and in all aspects of oral health is remarkable,” said CU SDM Senior Associate Dean for Research and Professor Jeff Stansbury, PhD. “Between Dr. Pfeifer’s keynote, the poster competition and the oral presentations, this year’s Research Day is full of groundbreaking discoveries that may help shape the future of the dental profession.” 

Pfeifer was a postdoctoral fellow in the Stansbury lab before launching her academic career. Since then, she has received the Outstanding Investigator grant award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and has published more than 100 research articles in the field of Dental Materials Sciences and Polymer Chemistry. She was recently appointed Associate Editor for the Journal of Dental Research and received the inventor of the year award from OHSU for the commercial potential of her patented inventions.

In her keynote speech, Pfeifer will discuss trends in innovative polymeric materials for restorative dental applications. “Unfortunately, especially with an ageing population, hundreds of thousands of resin composite restorations are replaced each year due to recurring decay and fracture,” she explains. The goal is to “prevent the unnecessary loss of additional tooth structure that comes with every re-treatment.”  

Poster Presentations: Competing for Four $150 Prizes 

Following Pfiefer’s keynote presentation, attendees will have the chance to browse more than 20 poster presentations. Topics this year range from 3D printed dentures to sealant strengthening, gene regulation during craniofacial development, and a novel coating for the treatment of deep caries. 

All poster and oral presentation abstracts can be viewed here.


UPDATE: Faculty from a variety of departments and disciplines determined winners to receive $150 prizes in four categories: 

  1. Dental students and ISP students at the School of Dental Medicine: Chloe Garcia (DDS '25), Investigating the role of Gq/11 proteins in zebrafish craniofacial development 

  2. Graduate students in labs at the School of Dental Medicine: Abigail Mumme-Monheit, Variable paralog expression underlies incomplete penetrance 

  3. Laboratory staff professionals working at the School of Dental Medicine: Gannon Kehe, Self-strengthening random copolymers as additives in dental resins

  4. Post docs and residents in labs at the School of Dental Medicine: Jennyfer Mitchell, An ALX patterning code for the vertebrate neurocranium 


Oral Presentations: Dental Research of the Future 

Assistant Professor in the Department of Craniofacial Biology Jamie Nichols, PhD, is the lead organizer for Research Day 2023. On selecting speakers, he said, “we wanted to have representation of different career stages and interests.”


Thomas Forman is an MD/PhD candidate in the Medical Scientist Training Program and a member of Dr. Katherine Fantauzzo’s lab in the Department of Craniofacial Biology. His research focuses on gene expression during mammalian craniofacial development. Forman was recently awarded a F31 Fellowship from the NIDCR; his grant received a perfect score from reviewers.

Nichols said, “interprofessional collaboration on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is an important part of the education we provide. As an MD/PhD candidate, Mr. Forman brings that element to our presentations, which shows how the dental school is involved in greater levels on campus.”  



Natalie Anderson (DDS ‘26) and Elise Ambrose (DDS ‘24)—winners of the past two CU SDM Research Competitions—will be competing at the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) Annual Meeting in March. Research Day attendees will be among the first to hear their findings.  

Anderson began her research as a Summer Scholar in the Stansbury Biomaterials Lab, investigating a new way to design composite materials that achieves higher conversion and higher mechanical performance than conventional dental composites.

Ambrose’s research focuses on strengthening adhesive resins using light-responsive nanoadditives. As part of the Nair Lab, she has worked with a team of chemical engineers and material science researchers to formulate and characterize the light-propelled adhesive networks.


Stanley (Michi) Kanai, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Craniofacial Biology, working in The Clouthier Lab. His research aims to understand genetic and cell-signaling mechanisms of craniofacial development and congenital disorders. He is currently investigating the role of heterotrimeric G proteins in upper and lower jaw development. Understanding how G proteins and downstream signaling effectors drive facial development will help us better understand and treat congenital craniofacial disorders. Dr. Kanai was awarded an F32 Fellowship from the NIDCR, under the guidance of co-mentors Drs. Clouthier and Nichols.


Join us for Research Day 

Interested in attending CU Dental Research Day? Find information including the agenda, speaker biographies, abstracts and CE registration details on the event webpage.