The Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry announces the following new appointments and awards:
* Robert Johnson, D.M.D., has been appointed interim head of the community dentistry department at OHSU School of Dentistry. In this role, Johnson will oversee the day-to-day operations of the school's North Russell Street Clinic, a 30-year-old clinic for the underserved. He replaces David Rosenstein, D.M.D., the original community dentistry department head and founder of Russell Street Clinic, who is retiring. Johnson graduated from the School of Dentistry in 1977. After graduation, he opened a private practice in general dentistry and in 1990 he began volunteering twice a week at Russell Street. Three years after he began volunteering at Russell Street, Johnson sold his practice and began treating patients there full time. A longtime advocate of the underserved, Johnson is immediate past president of Neighborhood House, a social services agency for Southwest Portland-area children, families and seniors. Johnson also is a member of the Oregon Oral Health Advisory Board, chairman of the planning committee for the HIV Planning Council, and a member of the Oregon Dental Association's Access to Care Committee.
* Weston Heringer Jr., D.M.D., OHSU School of Dentistry's pediatric dentistry residency program director, recently was appointed to the Oregon State Senate Commission on Health Care Access and Affordability, a new bipartisan panel of legislators, business leaders, community leaders and health care experts charged with recommending ways for the Legislature to cut costs and provide more access to health care. Heringer is one of 16 non-legislative members on the new commission. He is currently the Oregon Dental Association president and is in private dental practice with his son in Salem, Ore.
* Agnieszka Balkowiec, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of integrative biosciences, Michael Danilchik, Ph.D., professor of integrative biosciences, and John Mitchell, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomaterials and biomechanics, each recently received a $14,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The grant, through the Murdock Trust's Partners in Science Program, will enable Balkowiec, Danilchik and Mitchell to host local science teachers in their respective labs for two summers. Balkowiec will host Central Catholic High School's Elizabeth Pino, Danilchik will host Beth Deal from the School of Science and Technology at Merlo Station (Beaverton), and Mitchell will host Reynolds High School's Amy Rudich. The high school teachers will conduct research for three months during 2006 and 2007, as well as travel to scientific meetings. Balkowiec studies a group of molecules known as neurotrophins to determine their role in the part of the nervous system that controls the heart and blood vessels. Such research may shed light on how the nerve supply to the cardiovascular system is established during development, which could someday help scientists better understand cardiorespiratory development disorders such as sudden infant death syndrome. Danilchik studies a network of cytoplasmic protein filaments (the cytoskeleton), which all cells use to regulate dynamic cell behaviors. The large and rapidly developing cells of frog embryos provide a particularly useful research model for studying the cytoskeleton's role in important cellular movements like cell division. Mitchell's research examines the interaction of materials and tissues at the microscopic level. In particular, the Murdock collaboration will focus on the development of a novel tooth desensitizing agent which may serve to permanently alleviate dental hypersensitivity, a problem that plagues up to 35 percent of the United State population.