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UTSD Students Win Two Awards at Hinman Symposium

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 11:23am

From left:  Michael Rasmussen, Dr. Walid Fakhouri, Glennis Katzmark, Dr. Dharini van der Hoeven

UTSD's Hinman Student Research Symposium winners and their mentors are (from left) Michael Rasmussen, Dr. Walid Fakhouri, Glennis Katzmark and Dr. Dharini van der Hoeven.

Dental students Michael Rasmussen and Glennis Katzmark of The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston won two of nine awards at the 19th Annual Hinman Student Research Symposium in Memphis, Tenn., where more than 100 students representing 47 U.S. and Canadian dental schools presented research done by dental and graduate students and their mentors.

Rasmussen, mentored by Assistant Professor Walid Fakhouri, PhD, won the National Students Research Group President’s Award for Outstanding Student Research, presented by the American Association for Dental Research.  Katzmark was mentored by Assistant Professor Dharini van der Hoeven, PhD, MSc, and won The Most Outstanding Presentation in Basic Science Research Award.

Rasmussen’s research investigates a novel regulatory pathway linking two transcription factors, IRF6 and TWIST1, that led to agnathia (a complete loss of mandible), seen in mouse models that lack one copy of each gene. TWIST1 and IRF6 proteins are important for proper embryonic development. TWIST1 regulates several genes known to be key players in skull bone formation, and IRF6 is important in cells that give rise to skin in the head and face.

Katzmark’s work focuses on characterizing the mechanism by which the drug Fendiline, a calcium-channel blocker previously used to treat chest pain, inhibits growth of oral cancer cells in cell culture.  Recently, the drug has been shown to block the function of Ras protein, which is mutated in 20 percent of cancers. Katzmark’s study builds on research published earlier this year by van der Hoeven and a team of researchers at UT Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Rasmussen is a 2008 graduate of Trinity School of Midland, and Katzmark is a Cuero High School graduate. Both went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011 before entering dental school. 

Other UTSD student researchers and their mentors included Alexander Burger, mentored by Dr. Jacqueline Hecht; Alisa Dill, mentored by Dr. Renato Silva; Michelle Eldiwany, mentored by Dr. Joe Ontiveros; Adrien Lewis, mentored by Dr. Gary Frey; Tam Tran, mentored by Dr. Ariadne Letra; and Justin Tullis, mentored by Dr. Wenjian Zhang and Dr. Robin Weltman.  The students traveled to the Hinman Symposium and were accompanied by Assistant Professor Yasmine Haddad, DDS, PhD.

Fakhouri and van der Hoeven, both of the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences, were first-time mentors.  They thanked Hecht, who is associate dean for research, for supporting the group’s trip to Tennessee and the research behind it. 
 
The symposium, held Oct. 25-27 at the historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis, featured oral and poster presentations of research projects by dental students and graduate students from dental schools in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces. 

It is an annual event sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and co-sponsored by the Hinman Dental Society, which holds one of the nation’s largest continuing dental education meetings each March in Atlanta. The symposium is also supported in part by grants from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, the ADEAGies Foundation, the Procter & Gamble Company, the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry Alumni Association, and the Tennessee Dental Association Foundation.

UTSD students who attended the 19th Annual Hinman Student Research Symposium in Memphis include (from left) Tam Tran, Justin Tullis, Adrien Lewis, Alisa Dill, Glennis Katzmark, Alexander Burger, Michael Rasmussen and Dr. Yasmine Haddad, the faculty members who accompanied the students. Not pictured is Michelle Eldiwany.

UTSD students who attended the 19th Annual Hinman Student Research Symposium in Memphis include (from left) Tam Tran, Justin Tullis, Adrien Lewis, Alisa Dill, Glennis Katzmark, Alexander Burger, Michael Rasmussen and Dr. Yasmine Haddad, the faculty member who accompanied them. Student Michelle Eldiwany is not pictured.