Ostrow awarded research training grants from National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research

The prestigious five-year training grants are meant to support tomorrow’s leading thinkers in craniofacial research as they launch their academic careers.  

OSTROW HAS BEEN AWARDED TWO RESEARCH GRANTS from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to support nine PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, giving USC the distinction of being just one of 15 dental schools nationwide to currently have the support of these training grants.

“I believe this is major recognition of Ostrow’s significant history of training dental researchers, said Professor of Dentistry Michael Paine PERIO ’99, outgoing director of the graduate program in craniofacial biology, “and that we have the potential to continue this tradition, contributing to the training of future craniofacial and dental researchers who can improve world health and cure disease.” 

Paine will continue to lead and oversee the training grant during the next five-year cycle with Associate Professor Amy Merrill-Brugger PhD ’05 as co-investigator.

The prestigious five-year training grants will support USC doctoral and postdoctoral fellows — four PhD students and five postdoctoral fellows — who are pursuing research in areas related to the craniofacial complex. One of the postdoctoral appointments can be a dentist/PhD non U.S. citizen involved in research at Ostrow, which adds to the program’s geographic and cultural diversity. 

Those awarded a training grant fellowship receive a stipend, tuition, fees and a full benefit package that includes travel to conference related to their specific area of research and training related expenses such as lab equipment. 

The program’s goal is to educate outstanding scholars who wish to pursue basic, fundamental, translational or clinical research and prepare for careers relevant to dental and craniofacial disease and health.

Changing of the Guard


USC began one of the nation’s first graduate program in craniofacial biology, with the first student admitted in 1977, and quickly became internationally recognized as a major center for craniofacial, oral and dental research and training. 

“The primary purpose of the PhD program in craniofacial biology is to train future leaders in craniofacial and dental research-intensive positions,” Paine said.

Michael Paine and Jianfu Chen headshots
L-R: Michael Paine, Jianfu “Jeff” Chen

Paine took leadership as the program’s director in 2007 and recently announced he would step down effective July 1, 2021 to focus on research and teaching at USC and would be replaced by Associate Professor Jianfu “Jeff” Chen as program director.

“It has been a joy to work with our CBY PhD cohort over the past 14 years. Our students are motivated, intelligent and polite; and I have been very fortunate to meet and know these outstanding scholars, and manage and direct the program,” Paine said “Dr. Jianfu (Jeff) Chen has the support of our entire Ostrow faculty and staff. Jeff is an outstanding faculty member, and I wish him all the very best.” 

This year, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC was ranked No. 4 in research funding by the NIDCR, thanks in part to grants like this.

Current Ostrow postdoctoral fellows funded by this grant include Natalie Kegulian ’09, PhD ’15; Andres Stucky, Deseria Mecenas, Esmat Sodagar; and Rucha Bapat MS ’16, PhD ’20

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