Robert J. Genco PhD, DDS
Department of Oral Biology
Vice Provost, STOR, Distinguished Professor of Oral Bio., Perio., Micro.
Implant Dentistry; Oral Biology; Periodontics
Research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms of virulence of mucosal pathogens. Adherence is a critical first step in the pathogenesis of mucosal diseases, as it is important in interactions with mammalian cells, they can activate macrophages and play a role in invasion of epithelial cells. The molecular basis of adherence and fimbrial and nonfimbrial-associated adhesins are investigated. Adhesin for binding of pathogenic bacteria to mucous-covered surfaces have been studied at the molecular level. Studies of fimbrial adhesins of P. gingivalis have shown that protein interactions with salivary components are critical. Investigation of binding domains of fimbrial adhesin-associated proteins, their synthesis, and assembly, and expression of this organelle are among our current projects. We are exploring the immunogenicity of adhesins as well, using synthetic peptides in order to evaluate their usefulness as vaccines. Studies of S. gordonii as a vector for these vaccines is proceeding through genetic engineering of strains and testing in animal and human studies. Infections and Chronic Diseases. We are studying the systemic factors which alter the risk for periodontal disease, one of the most common infections of humans. Diabetes mellitus, osteopenia, stress and inadequate coping and smoking are conditions which increase susceptibility to periodontal infections. More recently, we have studied the effect of periodontal infections as they increase the risk for heart disease including myocardial infarction; and decreased glycemic control in diabetics. In vitro studies of molecular and cellular mechanisms, animal models and human epidemiologic studies, as well as randomized clinical trials are all underway to study the interdependence of periodontal infections and heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Education and Training:
Awards and Honors: