Published September 9, 2020
Patricia Diaz, Professor of Empire Innovation in the School of Dental Medicine, has been named the new director of the UB Microbiome Center.
The UB Microbiome Center brings together faculty, students and resources to achieve a deeper understanding of the microbiome’s role in health and disease, and to identify methods for intervention. The center facilitates collaborations among investigators across UB and supports interdisciplinary projects through its clinical, laboratory and analytical research infrastructure.
Diaz is a leader in the study of the microbiome, which are the communities of microorganisms that live on and in human and animal hosts. She replaces the late Robert J. Genco, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Oral Biology, who served as the center’s inaugural director.
“The School of Dental Medicine is extremely pleased that Dr. Diaz has agreed to become the director of UB’s Microbiome Center,” says Dean Joseph Zambon, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. “As a university center, Dr. Diaz’s appointment was approved by the vice president for research and economic development, SUNY Distinguished Professor Venu Govindaraju. Dr. Diaz was appointed to our faculty as Empire Innovation Professor by the SUNY chancellor, reflecting her outstanding accomplishments.”
Adds Govindaraju: “We are delighted to have a scholar of Dr. Diaz’s caliber join UB to lead the Microbiome Center. Her record of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation will help lead the Microbiome Center into a new era of discovery and meaningful patient treatments.”
Diaz’s research focuses on the role of the microbiome in oral diseases, such as chronic gum disease, oral thrush and mucositis during the course of cancer therapy. Her work aims to improve understanding of how imbalances in the oral microbiome lead to disease, as well as develop tools to manipulate the microbiome to interfere with disease development.
She joined the faculty in UB’s Department of Oral Biology this year after previously serving as an associate professor of oral health and diagnostic sciences at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
In her new role, Diaz will use her education and experience to lead and facilitate multidirectional and multidisciplinary integration of basic and patient-oriented research.
“I will work in concert with an established UB Microbiome Center team to guide research projects, develop partnerships and cultivate collaborations — especially among the Genome, Environment and Microbiome Community of Excellence — while further growing UB’s reputation in this fast-growing field,” Diaz says.
She earned a doctorate in dental surgery from CES University, a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Adelaide and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.