USC University of Southern California

Ostrow School of Dentistry Student Wins 2011 IADR Bernard Sarnat Award

Ostrow School of Dentistry Ph.D. candidate Marcelo Freire was recognized for outstanding craniofacial biology research during the 2011 International Association of Dental Research General Session.

During the General Session’s Craniofacial Biology ceremony, Freire was named the 2011 recipient of the Bernard Sarnat Award, an honor given to the pre-doctoral or post-doctoral student that conducts original and outstanding research in craniofacial growth and development. Out of hundreds of applications submitted from around the world, only ten abstracts were chosen for the poster session finalists, from which Freire’s was selected as the winner.

“When I heard my name, it was a big surprise,” said Freire, who trained as a periodontist before enrolling in the Ostrow School of Dentistry’s Ph.D. in Craniofacial Biology program. “I was really proud to represent our School; I hope it inspires students to participate in research and go beyond what is thought of dentistry.”

His winning project, “Bioengineering Bone by Monoclonal Antibodies,” examined the possibility of developing new bone growth by modulating the extracellular environment using therapeutic antibodies. To test the possibility, monoclonal antibodies – antibodies cloned from the same parent cell – were designed and immobilized on collagen scaffolds to tether growth factors, including BMP-2.

These membranes were surgically placed in critical-size rat calvarial models designed to mimic bone defects found in humans. After several weeks, CT scans and tissue analysis revealed increased bone formation in sites with antibodies when compared to controls.

“Such novel methodology is an advance in science and technology, and we hope one day this will translate to treat patients with skeletal defects or injuries, including congenital defects involving the jaw, palate, and face,” Freire said.