Office of Research – Mentors and Collaborators

Azeez Aileru, PhD, FAHA

Mechanisms associated with altered neural functions during hypertension and its association with metabolic syndromes. Over a few years, some work has identified the neuroanatomical and transmitter pathways sub-serving angiotensin II actions in brain areas involved in baroreceptor reflex control of the blood circulation. Current studies investigate neural and alterations in nervous system in response to angiotensin peptides, hypertension and most recently, during obesity.

Xiaoxi Cui, DDS, MS, BDM

My research interests include periodontal and peri-implant microbiome and its correlation to patient dental treatment strategies, cross-sectional CBCT analysis of clinical related parameters.

Andres Flores, DDS, MS

Mainly focused in the early detection/diagnosis and management of premalignant conditions of the oral mucosa, and oral cancer.

Saulo Geraldeli, DDS, MS, PhD

My research interests are in the physical, chemical and biological properties of dental biomaterials. Currently, I am primarily focused on synthetizing bioglass nanoparticles, small anti-fouling molecules, and testing their physical and microbiological behavior after incorporation into adhesive dental materials and hydrogel constructs for regenerative endodontic applications.

Ramiro Mendonca Murata, DDS, MS, PhD

Primary research interest is to understand how a human oral microbiome (bacteria, virus and fungi) interacts with its host, and to lay the groundwork for the development of new antimicrobial therapies. Recently, our research group have focused on investigating the host-Candida-HIV interactions. Unraveling the mechanisms that microorganisms use in a competitive, cross-kingdom environment would not only deepen our understanding of microbial pathogenesis but also provide important insights into novel pathways that are amenable for the development of new antimicrobial drugs.

David Paquette, DMD, MPH, DMSc

The connection between poor oral health (periodontitis) and systemic diseases, novel interventions for periodontal disease, oral health disparities, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Vanessa Pardi, DDS, MS, PhD

My research interest is on oral health promotion and diseases prevention. The goal of my research is to provide evidence-based data that supports the creation of health promotion programs to reduce the burdens of oral disease (dental caries in children and periodontal disease in adults) on underserved and underrepresented population.

Erzebet Maria Szatmari, PhD

The Szatmari laboratory at ECU studies early-onset synaptic alterations and dysfunction associated with Alzheimer disease (AD), using advanced imaging, cell biology, biochemistry and behavioral techniques, transgenic mice and mouse models of AD. We are particularly interested in identifying signaling pathways that provide resilience against AD or protect against disease progression.

Project 1 focuses on the small GTPase, Rab 10, as chronic reduction in the level and activity of this protein reduces the risk of AD development even in individuals that carry the ApoE epsilon allele. Using AD model mice (J20 and 5xFAD) on Rab10 +/- background, we attempt to identify the signaling pathways that underly Rab10-dependent resilience against AD.

Project 2 focuses on the role of a brain specific protein, called ADAP1 (Centaurin alpha-1) in development of AD. Our studies strongly suggest that ADAP1 is a negative regulator of synaptic plasticity and dendritic spine density and that reduction in ADAP1 level protects neurons from dendritic spine elimination by toxic amyloid. We are currently using mice KO for ADAP1 to dissect the role of ADAP1 in the brain and in age related brain disorders.

Ali Vahdati, PhD

Research interests are in the areas of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering. Examples include: Nonlinear solid mechanics, biomechanics and mechanobiology, finite element analysis, computational modeling techniques, tissue engineering, cell mechanics, continuum mechanics and physiological systems and modeling.

Wanda Wright, RN, DDS, MS, MSD

Research interests include oral health disparities, oral health related quality of life, increasing access to oral health care, increasing diversity of the oral health workforce, program development, and integrating public health training and research into dental education.