A year of discovery awaits Omar Glover at the National Institutes of Health

Omar Glover was poised to begin his fourth year of dental school at ECU when he received an acceptance letter to attend the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars (MRS) program for the next year.

The research training program allows medical, dental and veterinary students to pause their university studies to live on the intramural campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and conduct basic, clinical or translational research. The program’s goal is to advance health by inspiring careers in biomedical research.

Third-year dental student Omar Glover will attend a year-long program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Third-year dental student Omar Glover will attend a year-long program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Glover is one of only two dental students among 51 health professional students from across the nation to be invited to join this year’s program.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” said Glover, “but along with the opportunity comes the responsibility to turn over every stone and take full advantage of the experience while I’m there.”

He and the other Scholars will immerse in a continuum of biomedical research—from laboratory investigations to population research, lectures in bioethics and emerging technologies, patient-centered research, training in clinical protocols and networking with nationally known teachers.

Glover, who is from Charlotte, earned a bachelor’s degree in African American studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in biology cum laude from UNC-Charlotte in 2015.

He is no stranger to research. While at UNC-Charlotte, he worked as lead lab assistant in the biology lab for two years. There he coordinated materials for lab sections of Cell Biology, Introduction to Biology, Genetics and Animal Physiology courses. He also maintained the ecosystems for live animal subjects.

“At UNC-Charlotte, I acquired a solid foundation for laboratory procedures and the ability to multitask under tight deadlines,” said Glover. “I also learned the value of being consistent and precise in preparing lab materials and gained appreciation for basic science.”

At UNC-C, Glover worked closely with faculty mentors studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of liver function under septic conditions. After two years of training with faculty through the school’s honors program, he successfully defended his honors thesis, “The Analysis of ROS Compartmentation in Vascular Endothelial Cells in Response to Stress.”

Glover was admitted to ECU’s dental school in 2016. Prior to beginning classes, he was competitively named an ECU School of Dental Medicine Summer Research Scholar—one of four funded positions awarded annually.

With mentorship from Dr. Sharon Gordon, the school’s associate dean for research, Glover investigated biomarkers within saliva that indicate a patient’s level of stress. He conducted a feasibility study in healthy volunteers that acquainted him with human subject research, outcome measurements and data interpretation.

As a result, the school awarded him travel funds to give presentations on the topic at local and national competitions. He won first place at the Student National Dental Association National Research Competition in Orlando, Florida, in 2017.

Glover has pursued two other research opportunities, one involving endodontic instrumentation accuracy with Dr. Paul Lindauer, division director of endodontics and another on smoking cessation behaviors and perceived readiness to quit with Dr. Wanda Wright, division director of dental public health.

He also serves as president of the school’s Student Research Group (SRG), the national network of dental student researchers that is active in many U.S. and Canadian dental schools.

“Omar’s consistent engagement in research portends genuine enthusiasm to pursue advanced research training and a long-term career in academic dentistry and research,” said Dr. David Paquette, chair of the dental school’s Department of Surgical Sciences and interim associate dean for research.

Glover arrived on the NIH campus June 1 and is settling in. He is slated to return to the School of Dental Medicine in June 2020 as a fourth-year student.

Glover’s research topic at the NIH will be within the National Institute of Dental and Cranial Research (NIDCR), whose mission is to improve oral, dental, and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information. His research advisor will be Niki Moutsopoulos, DDS, PhD.

“Dental school has shown me that there are many sides to dentistry,” Glover said. “Doctors are not only in the clinic treating patients; they are also doing research to improve the delivery of care. Ultimately, I would like to be able to bridge the gap between patient care, technology and access to care.”

It’s likely that an intensive year at the NIH will help him on his way.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars Program is a public-private partnership supported jointly by the NIH and generous contributions to the Foundation for the NIH from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the American Association for Dental Research, the Colgate-Palmolive Company, Elsevier, alumni of student research programs, and other individual supporters via contributions to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.