Dr. Somerman’s research has focused on defining the key regulators controlling development, maintenance and regeneration of dental-oral-craniofacial tissues.

Research Statement

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.


University of Rochester Medical Center & Dental School, Rochester, NY
Ph.D., 1980

Eastman Dental Research Center
Certificate in Periodontology, 1978

New York University, College of Dentistry
D.D.S., 1975

Hunter College, Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
M.S., 1972

New York University
B.A., Arts and Sciences, 1968


NIDCR, NIH, 2011 – 2019

Laboratory of Oral Connective Tissue Biology, NIAMS, NIH, 2011 – present

Senior Clinical Advisory Staff
Clinical Center, NIH, 2011 – present

Affiliate Faculty,
University of Washington, School of Dentistry, Department of Periodontics, 2013 – present

Dean Emeritus
University of Washington, School of Dentistry, 2011 – present

Associate Medical Staff
Harborview Medical Center, 2004 – 2011

Medical Staff
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, 2004 – 2011

Associate Medical Staff
University of Washington Medical Center, 2004 – 2011

Adjunct Professor
University of Washington School of Dentistry, Department of Oral Biology, 2003 – 2011

University of Washington School of Dentistry, 2002 – 2011

University of Washington School of Dentistry, Department of Periodontics, 2002 – 2011

Associate Dean for Research
University of Michigan, School of Dentistry, 2001 – 2002

Last Updated: March 2020