The Commonwealth of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are making a significant investment in biomedical research to combat high incidences of tooth loss, cardiovascular disease, preterm babies, diabetes and several other treatable chronic conditions. It is becoming increasingly appreciated that oral diseases, in particular periodontal disease (where the gums and supporting structures of the teeth deteriorate and the teeth are lost), and certain chronic systemic conditions are intertwined. In the case of diabetes, it is now accepted that periodontal disease will worsen diabetes and vice versa.
It is also recognized that having periodontal disease doubles the risk of heart disease and markedly increases the risk of pregnant women having small babies that need considerable health care support (estimated at $1 billion per year in the U. S. alone). Many of these children have life-long health problems.
WHAT WE DO
We investigate mechanisms whereby oral and systemic diseases are related so that therapeutic solutions and preventive strategies can be developed. The Center for Oral Health and Systemic Disease engages in translational research focusing on clinically generated and tested hypotheses combined with strong basic science support in the areas of pathology, microbiology, inflammation, immunology, genetics, computational biology, epidemiology and statistics.
Renovation of existing space at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry into research laboratories and clinical research space has been central to the creation of the Center for Oral Health and Systemic Disease. The Dental School has established the Delta Dental Endowed Professor in Oral Health and Systemic Disease with a $1.5 million matching endowment.
Anticipated health outcomes include: better management of chronic systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes; a reduction in the number (morbidity and mortality) of pre-term and low birth weight babies born to Kentuckians; improved functional oral health status such as the ability to chew/digest foods, speak and smile.
In summary, fundamental pathological relationships, mechanisms and risk factors will be explored with special emphasis on how oral and systemic health relate to each other. Systemic conditions will include smoking, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preterm low birth weight babies, all of which are highly prevalent in the state of Kentucky. Thus translational research in oral and systemic health will enroll clinicians and basic scientists into researching common disease mechanisms and risk factors relevant to oral and systemic diseases. Anticipated health outcomes are better appreciation and management of related chronic oral and systemic conditions to improve quality and duration of life.