Scholar Candidate: Dr. Deborah Polk is a behavioral scientist on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Her work with the transdisciplinary Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia (COHRA) has honed her interest in examining the interaction of genotypes with behavioral environments in chronic periodontitis. Her short-term goal is to gain fundamental knowledge regarding periodontal disease, genotype by environment statistical analysis, and the conduct of patient-oriented oral health research. Her long-term goal is to become an independent research scientist with a funded research program that identifies modifiable factors that could lead to effective treatments for and the prevention of chronic periodontitis. Environment: The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine has COHRA, an ongoing NIDCR-funded grant examining oral health. DNA samples from this study are included in the NIH's Gene and Environment Initiative genome-wide association study. The University of Pittsburgh has a long-standing track record of providing junior faculty with exceptional research and career development training. Mentor &Consultants: Dr. Mary Marazita, from the School of Dental Medicine, will serve as the primary mentor for this award. She is the principal investigator for COHRA and is an oral health geneticist. She will provide expertise in genetics and career development. Dr. Charles Sfeir, from the School of Dental Medicine, will serve as a consultant in chronic periodontitis. Dr. Candace Kammerer, from the Graduate School of Public Health, will serve as a consultant in data analytic techniques. Dr. Robert Weyant, Chair of the Department of Dental Public Health and Information Management will serve as a consultant in career development. Research Career Development Plan: In addition to formal coursework in periodontal disease, genetics, statistics, and scientific integrity, a series of tailored tutorials will be conducted with the mentor/consultants, which will focus on their areas of expertise. Research Study: Data will be collected from COHRA's high-risk Appalachian sample. Through NIH's ongoing genome-wide association study, single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with chronic periodontitis will be identified in these participants. Participants'smoking, chronic psychosocial stress, and chronic periodontitis will be assessed.
The aim of this project is to identify genotype by behavioral environment interactions in chronic periodontitis. Results will provide a foundation for intervention research addressing chronic periodontitis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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NIDCR Special Grants Review Committee (DSR)
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King, Lynn M
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University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Dentistry
United States
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Polk, Deborah E; Kim, Sunghee; Manz, Michael et al. (2015) Is there an Appalachian disparity in dental caries in Pennsylvania schoolchildren? Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 43:24-32
Polk, Deborah E; Wang, Xiaojing; Feingold, Eleanor et al. (2012) Effects of smoking and genotype on the PSR index of periodontal disease in adults aged 18-49. Int J Environ Res Public Health 9:2839-50
Spallek, Heiko; Song, Mei; Polk, Deborah E et al. (2010) Barriers to implementing evidence-based clinical guidelines: a survey of early adopters. J Evid Based Dent Pract 10:195-206