Featured Faculty Member

Featured Graduate Student

Concentration in Oral Biology

1. Goals:

To provide graduate students with a comprehensive background in Oral Biology that encompasses both basic science and clinical aspects of dentistry.

2.  Intended Applicant Pool:

Master's Students

3. Competencies of Concentration Graduates:

Students will have the opportunity to:

• Understand the essential properties of pathogenic and commensal bacteria as they relate to their roles in oral health and disease.

• Understand the anatomy of the immune system, their cellular and humoral components, and how each component integrates with other arms of the immune system to ensure oral health, as well as their roles in oral pathology and other systemic diseases.

• Understand physiological concepts across organ systems as well as understand their application to clinical dentistry.

• Understand human biochemistry with emphasis on dental and other clinical problems.

• Understand structure-function relationships based upon information from light and electron microscopy, histochemistry, autoradiography, experimental morphology, cell and molecular biology and other areas,   and their correlations with clinical dentistry.

• Understand the biology of polymeric and metallic components used in dental biomaterials.

• Understand sensory systems in the oral cavity, and their effects on general sensation, pain, motor activity and central control.

• Understand research techniques employed in modern dental-related biomedical science.

4. Curriculum:

To earn the concentration, students are required to complete 8 credits of Oral Biology courses from the list below. At least two of the courses must be chosen from the Primary Course Offerings category:

Primary Course Offerings
DENT 5065Q Dental Physiology. 5 cr. Fall

Dental Physiology is a first year dental school course that is open to a limited number of masters students.  Physiology is the study of function in living organisms. The course consists of seven units: (1) Cell Physiology, (2) Endocrinology, (3) Gastrointestinal Physiology, (4) Cardiovascular Physiology, (5) Renal Physiology, (6) Respiratory Physiology, (7) Neurophysiology. Each unit addresses the general principles of human cell, organ and vital system function. Lectures consist of 50 minute oral presentations with slides. Laboratory or Physiological Application (PA) modules provide experience applying basic physiological principles introduced in lectures and promote critical thinking skills. These exercises help the student integrate physiological concepts across organ systems as well as understand their application to clinical dentistry. To facilitate these goals, guest lecturers will participate in some PA modules. When possible, class time has been assigned for PA preparation. The format of each session will be individualized to fit the needs of the unit. Specific instructions about the class discussion for each exercise will be provided at the beginning of each unit. Students may work independently or in small groups to prepare each assignment.

This course can replace GSND N500B Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences II (Cellular Biology. 3 cr. Spring) to fulfill the master’s basic science requirement.

DENT 5085Q Dental Biochemistry. 4 cr. Spring
Dental Biochemistry is a first year dental school course that is open to a limited number of masters students. The main theme of the Biochemistry course is the correlation of molecular structure and biological function. Accordingly, the course presents the salient facts of Biochemistry from which the general characteristics of structure and function in living systems can be deduced. Emphasis is given to the nature, biosynthesis, and degradation of the major building blocks of cells and tissues; the details, interrelationships, and control mechanisms of the various pathways of intermediary metabolism; the production and utilization of energy and the nature and function of biological catalysis; the nature and expression of genetic information; and the special characteristics of certain organs and tissues. Human biochemistry will be the predominant subject of the course, with emphasis on dental and other clinical problems.

This course can replace GSND N500A Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences I. (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 3 cr Fall.) to fulfill the master’s basic science requirement.

DENT 5300Q Oral Microbiology. 3 cr. Fall
Oral Microbiology is a second year dental school course that is open to masters students.  This course will provide knowledge of common human oral pathogenic and commensal flora. Using examples of S. mutans, P. gingivalis, A. actinomycetemcomitans, and other significant oral pathogens, students will learn in detail about the life cycle of these organisms inside the mouth, their biochemistry, genetics, and strategies for manipulating and circumventing the host immune response. The nature and course of the diseases associated with each of these bacteria will be presented in detail, including animal models and vaccination strategies. The course will also cover basic medical microbiology, virology, and mycology.

DENT 5310Q Oral Immunology. 3 cr. Spring
Oral Immunology is a first year dental school course that is open to a limited number of masters students. This course is geared to provide students with understanding of basic concepts of immunology, to facilitate a better understanding of immunological basis of oral diseases.  Students will be introduced to the components of the central and peripheral lymphoid organs, and the cells of the immune system.  The concept of innate and adaptive immunity, as it applies to responses to oral microbial pathogens will be covered.  The course content will include immunological processes within the periodontium, crevicular fluid, saliva, and the endodontium. There will be lectures on immunological basis of dental caries and periodontal disease, as well as neoplasia of the oral cavity.  Immunological basis of inflammation and pain will be addressed. In addition, periapical inflammatory responses, and their relationship to oral diseases will be covered.

Below are suggested Elective Course offerings to complete a minimum of 8 credits.
DENT 5910Q Dental Seminar. 1 cr. Fall or Spring
Students attend seminar series in which scientists conducting dental research are invited from various institutions to present their work.

MSBS 593A Research in Biomedical Sciences (Masters Lab Rotation). 2cr Fall and/or Spring
The goal of the 2 credit Masters laboratory rotation is to give students exposure to scientific research.  This is accomplished by students spending at least 60 hours in a research lab, as well as submitting a final report to their mentor and the course director of Research in Biomedical Sciences (Dr. Stephen Garrett). In contrast with a thesis, the research performed in a rotation does not necessarily have to be based on testing a hypothesis.  For example, whereas one student might have their own project that is directed at asking a specific, if limited, question, another student might perform tasks that would be geared toward the creation of reagents or analysis of data.  In all cases, students are expected to take part in lab discussions and meetings, have a general understanding of the work carried out in the lab, and have an understanding of the utility of their work to the lab.

DENT 7106Q Dental Histology. 5 cr. Fall
Dental Histology is a first year dental school course that is open to a limited number of masters students. The Histology course is a combination of a traditional microscopic anatomy course with additional information from the fields of biochemistry, cell biology, maxillofacial development, immunology, pathology and physiology. The course consists of a series of lectures and slide presentations. Lectures include structure-function relationships based upon information from light and electron microscopy, histochemistry, autoradiography, experimental morphology, cell and molecular biology and other areas. The specific significance of concepts to the understanding of clinical areas of dentistry are emphasized. The correlations with clinical dentistry are mainly in the areas of tissue structure and function. Discussions of the processes of histogenesis and repair are also included.

DENT5150 Metallic Systems in Dental Biomaterials Sciences. 2 cr. Fall
This course will focus on the general structural configuration of metallic materials as opposed to nonmetallic materials. Emphasis will be on the types of bonds, crystallography of metallic materials and their unique properties. Mechanical behavior and microscopic and microstructural characteristics of metallic materials will be discussed in terms of phase diagrams and phase transition. Typical dental alloy systems will be discussed.

DENT5160 Polymeric Systems in Biomaterials Sciences. 2 cr. Fall
This course will focus on the basic concepts and empirical rules involved in the conversion of a small molecule into a macromolecule in terms of bonding forces, molecular size and molecular weight. Application of polymer sciences to dentistry, general requirements of a polymeric material for use as a denture base, impression material, composite filling material and dentin bonding agent will be discussed.

PHMS 5025Q  Microbial Biofilms. 1 cr. Spring
This course is aimed at highlighting the biology and significance of surface attached bacteria or biofilms. The course will be divided into one-hour lectures. The lectures will focus on biofilm formation, bacterial mechanisms involved in biofilm development, biofilm structure and the role of biofilms in pathogenesis and disease. The course will also look at mechanisms involved in biofilm resistance, as well as strategies for biofilm control and prevention. In the last section of the course we will discuss scientific methodology used in biofilm research and analysis.  A short-answer written exam will be given at the end of the course for student evaluation. In addition, each student will receive one manuscript to present to the class (15 min presentation).

DENT 5145Q Introduction to Structural Biology. 1 cr. Fall
The generation of genomic information has exploded in recent years. However, scientists are falling behind in determining the functional implications of such information. The challenge centers on the ability of structural biologists to lead in determining the structures of biomolecules and their complexes to keep pace with the genetic information. A thorough understanding of macromolecular structures is required for the development of structure/function relationships. This course will introduce students to structural biology to gain understanding of macromolecular structure, function, and chemistry of biological macromolecules including proteins, nucleic acids and carbohydrates. Topics in protein folding will also be discussed. Introduction to specific methods for structure elucidation will include X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, and mass spectrometry. Macromolecular structure/function relationships as they relate to disease processes and therapies will also be discussed.  Topics covered include: molecular architecture I (Proteins); molecular architecture II (DNA and carbohydrates); Protein folding; Introduction to structure determination; X-ray crystallography; Mass spectroscopy; Structural Databases; Visualization methods; Comparison of structures; Structure-function relationships; and, Structure design-engineering.

DENT 5120Q Sensory Physiology of Masticatory  System. 1 cr. Spring
The course “Sensory Systems in the Oral Cavity” is based on the premise that the significance of the oral cavity to the human organism and its complexity require study.  One area of interest that underlies its many functions is its neural substrate, including both sensory and motor components.  It is the neural substrate that supports chewing, speech, swallowing and dysfunction, pain and loss of movement.  This course addresses aspects of proprioception, general sensation, pain, motor activity and central control.  These topics are necessary to gain an understanding of the functional activities of the oral cavity.

DENT 5220Q Methods in Microscopic Imaging. 2 cr. Fall
This is a lecture/hands-on course that teaches the basic principles and applications of microscopy used in today's research. The course covers theory, fundamental operating principles, and specimen preparation techniques. It includes modes of operation, types of information obtainable, specimen choice, limitations, fixation, stabilization, dehydration and observation for light and fluorescence microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and laser capture microdissection. After participation in this course, a student should be able to understand the theories, and specimen preparation techniques for microscopy.

5.  Concentration Coordinator:
Vincent K. Tsiagbe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Oral Biology
UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School
Tel: 973-972-2612