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 ResearchResearch AreasImmunology and Innate Defenses     September 23, 2014  

Immunology and Innate Defenses

Immunology is the branch of the biomedical sciences concerned with the structure, function, and disorders of the immune system, innate and acquired immunity, and the bodily distinctions of self from non-self.  The immune system protects the body from disease-causing pathogens that invade the body through wounds, or through mucous membranes such as those in the oral cavity and lung.

Research in this department focuses on many aspects of "innate" immune defenses, which act immediately and relatively non-specifically to target pathogens for clearance.  Such defenses include inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and IL-17), anti-microbial peptides (histatins, defensins, and mucins), and phagocytic cells (macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells). 

Efforts are also aimed at understanding how inflammatory mediators, induced in chronic disease settings such as periodontal disease, contribute to systemic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

DID YOU KNOW >

Mentoring

Every project in a mentorship program has an emphasis on publishing—the “currency” of science—with a view toward high-impact journals 

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Outnumbered

It has been determined that the human body contains more bacteria than cells of its own.

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Bone Loss

The bone loss in periodontal disease is due almost entirely to the exaggerated host immune response elicited to fight oral bacteria.

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Oral and Systemic Disease

Oral biology research at UB has provided provocative evidence that oral diseases such as periodontal disease can contribute to the initiation or progression of such systemic diseases as myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetes mellitus, and pneumonia. 

FACULTY VIEW >

Frank Scannapieco

Professor and Chair

There's quite a diverse group of studies that we're working on. For example, we are now investigating the role of oral health in systemic disease, particularly the effects of oral health on hospital-acquired pneumonia.

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Ernesto DeNardin

Professor

The unique thing about our PhD program is that, in most cases, the graduate students are also clinical residents, so they get a unique exposure to both worlds. 

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Mira Edgerton

Research Professor

I think as mentors at UB, our approach to scientific thought processes is our strength; we emphasize higher-order reasoning as an essential part of an approach to a problem.

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Libuse Bobek

Professor

Every student has a primary mentor and a committee that is composed of at least three other members of the faculty who guide the students throughout the five or six years of study that it takes.