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U of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry Student Earns NIDCR Fellowship
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded student Marybeth Francis, of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, an NIH Fellowship.
“This prestigious award will support Marybeth’s training as a clinician scientist at the College,” said Dr. David L. Crowe, Interim Associate Dean for Research.
Francis applied for the Fellowship last summer, and was granted a monetary award which will be paid over the next five years.
“My personal goal for this Fellowship is to gain valuable skills in academic, clinical, and research related to dentistry to lay the foundation for my career as a dentist scientist,” Francis explained. “The financial support of the Fellowship will allow me to begin my career as a dentist scientist immediately after graduating from the program. This award is an essential first step in my career as a successful, funded scientist.
“This award will also give me an opportunity to communicate my scientific research at more formal settings such as conferences and national and international meetings,” she continued. “By presenting my own research, listening to other research presentations, and networking, I will form bonds and collaborate with others. Participating at conferences affords the opportunity to further understand topics directly relevant to my project and to possibly integrate these new ideas into my own research.”
The goal of Francis’s research is to elucidate the mechanism of exacerbated periodontitis in diabetic patients and to identify possible treatments. The chronic inflammatory diseases diabetes and periodontitis have a significant effect on public health, and periodontal disease is greatly exacerbated in diabetic patients.
“The interdisciplinary nature of my project will give me the perfect chance to work together with experts in periodontitis, diabetes, and epigenetics and will provide opportunities to contribute to advances in dental medicine, and also to collaborate across several disciplines,”
Upon completion of her DMD/PhD, Francis hopes to enter a postdoctoral and specialty training program and to apply for an NIH K Award, which provides support for postdoctoral Fellows. She later hopes to obtain a tenure-track faculty position as a dentist scientist at a dental school, using “my hybrid perspective in basic science research and clinical practice to have a successful career in translational research,” Francis said. Once she has her own lab, she hopes to become an R01 (NIH Research Project Grant) investigator and seek a leadership position.
Francis’s mentor is Dr. Xianghong Luan, Assistant Professor, Oral Biology.
“I would like to acknowledge Dr. Luan and Dr. Thomas Diekwisch, Head of Oral Biology, for making time last summer to help me with the application,”
William S. Bike