Merrill-Brugger receives $2 million NIH grant for craniofacial birth defect research
25 Jun 15
Ostrow researcher and assistant professor of craniofacial molecular biology Amy Merrill-Brugger PhD ’05 received the National Institute of Health Research Project Grant (R01) for her scientific investigation on inherited human conditions that cause facial bones to develop abnormally.
“Congenital disorders are particularly devastating as our facial bones support tools to feed, sense and communicate,” Merrill-Brugger said.
The highly competitive R01 will provide more than $2 million to Merrill-Brugger’s team for up to five years.
“By revealing the cause of craniofacial birth defects, we hope to advance therapies for their detection and treatment,” said Merrill-Brugger, an Ostrow assistant professor since 2010. She works alongside a team of three research assistants who are also Ostrow PhD and Master’s candidates.
Mutations in a single genetic protein are responsible for at least 10 distinct skeletal birth defects, Merrill-Brugger said in her project summary. Such birth defects include bent bone dysplasia, LADD syndrome, Jackson-Weiss syndrome, Pfeiffer syndrome and Crouzon syndrome.
“Craniofacial birth defects, even if rare, deserve our attention because they uncover the steps necessary to build bone and thus advance our potential for bone regeneration and repair,” said Merrill-Brugger. Bone regeneration and repair could be used clinically to treat diseases or traumas where the bone has been compromised.
The R01 grant comes on the heels of another award Merrill-Brugger earned in February when her team received a March of Dimes grant. That award—worth up to $275,000—will help focus their research on why abnormalities in the protein-producing machines of the cell cause skeletal birth defect.
“The grants’ contributions will have significant impact on advancing the understanding of the mechanisms underpinning diseases caused by genetic dysfunction, including birth defects and cancer. It will also create new opportunities for therapeutic intervention, and pathways to correct abnormal cell proliferation and differentiation in these diseases.”
Ostrow has received the most NIDCR funds of any private dental educational institution for the past three years.
Michael DeBourg II DDS ’22 overcomes personal loss, a chronic disease and the specter of low expectations to craft a fulfilling life. AFTER HIS FATHER PASSED AWAY in 2007 from pancreatic cancer, Michael DeBourg II went soul searching. The first in his immediate family to earn a high school degree, the then-21-year-old DeBourg had settled […]
First-generation college student Erika Correa DDS ’22 wants to use her career to help improve others’ lives. IT WAS A FABLED TRIP to the orthodontist to get braces that first sparked then-13-year-old Erika Correa’s interest in a dental career . “My new smile after my braces gave me confidence, which really changed my life for […]
ASPID student Artem Cheshkov has overcome a multitude of challenges on his path to graduation. CONSIDER ARTEM CHESHKOV’S DAILY SCHEDULE: After putting in a full day attending courses and working in the lab as part of Ostrow’s Advanced Standing Program for International Dentists (ASPID), he heads over to Bright Horizons Daycare to pick up his […]
Ostrow graduate Anna Adjei DDS ’22 says Commencement will be a family affair. NO MATTER HOW BUSY Ostrow student Anna Adjei DDS ’22 is, her mother and father are never far from her mind. In fact, with graduation day a stone’s throw away, the first-generation college student says, “This degree is for my parents. They […]