Hi everyone! My name is Priyanka, and I am a Biological Sciences major with a minor in Chemistry at Pitt. Two things I love are my home state of Delaware and singing as I am a part of an acapella team on campus. I aspire to become a dentist in the future and encourage people to care for and preserve their oral health. This summer, on my pursuit of knowledge, I am studying the genetic mechanisms behind mineralization of dentin tissue, a component in teeth, under the guidance of Dr. Dobrawa Napierala, a professor in the department of Oral Biology at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine.
I will be working on learning about the Trps1 gene as a transcription factor and its effect on proper mineralization of dental tissues. Transcription factors have the ability to turn on and off expression of multiple genes, affecting several different mechanisms. In this study, the Trps1 gene will be investigated in vivo using mice models. Using the cre-lox cKO system, mice will be generated with the gene deleted specifically in dentin tissue. The cKO approach is particularly important because the TRPS1 gene not only controls dental development but rather several diverse processes throughout the body. This allows the study to investigate the direct effects of Trps1 deletion in regards to mineralization, rather than indirect effects from another affected tissue. Data collection involves the use of three- dimensional imaging through microcomputed tomography (µCT) technology. Through this method, we will be able to measure the quantity and quality of mineralized tissue within the teeth from the mice through densiometric and volumetric data.
This research project may help to explore possible genetic developmental issues regarding mineralized tissue. Improper development of mineralized tissue may create a defective internal structure and account for the perplexing phenomena of high dental caries in patients despite proper oral care (diet and oral hygiene). This research project will help my professional goals by furthering my knowledge in the field of dentistry and dental technologies. In addition to the anatomy of teeth and its various characteristics, I will also be acquainted with handling and imaging teeth. Albeit, mice and human teeth are clearly different, I will still gain useful hands on skills. In todays modern world, dentists use several technologies to help with imaging and lead more efficient patient care. Machines, like the CEREC machine, are increasingly prevalent in dental practices. Therefore, exposure to the µCT technology will help me gain useful skills for my future professional aspirations. It will teach me proper methods of viewing dental images as well as techniques for determining how to change scanning parameters depending on different teeth/patients. Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about myself and my project. I am excited to see what everyone is pursuing through the Brackenridge program, and I look forward to getting to know you all.