Dr. Somerman’s research has focused on defining the key regulators controlling development, maintenance and regeneration of dental-oral-craniofacial tissues.
Periodontal diseases and conditions cause destruction of the tooth attachment complex, including root cementum, periodontal ligament (PDL), and alveolar bone, leading to further complications including tooth loss. The objective of the research is to identify key controllers of periodontal tissues during development, with a focus on regulators of mineralization. Expression pattern of these factors are mapped during development, and mechanisms modulating their activity along with associated tissues and cells during are determined using in vitro and in vivo models. As candidate regenerative factors are identified, they are tested in vivo using periodontal disease rodent models and, ultimately, prepared for clinical trials.
The broad goal of the Clinical Research of Oral Connective Tissue program is to define and understand the function of key genes, proteins, and factors regulating development, maintenance, and repair/regeneration of the dental-oral-craniofacial (DOC) complex; via collaborations with other clinical researchers at NIH, we aim to identify individuals that may exhibit conditions, disorders, pathologies of tissues/cells associated with the DOC complex. In addition, we work with extramural researchers to obtain data and samples from patients under approved protocols and when appropriate, examine their patients at NIH. These individuals will be examined at NIDCR under a natural history protocol, or other approved research protocols, and in certain cases, appropriate tissues/cells will be obtained for histological and molecular analysis.