Academia / Education
Trendsetters - May 2006
» W. Gregory Sawyer, University of Florida associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has devised a very wear-resistant and low-fiction lubricant designed for the military.
» Aswani Volety, Florida Gulf Coast University marine and ecological sciences chair, uses oysters as indicators of ecosystem health, while colleague Greg Tolley, director of FGCU's Coastal Watershed Institute, leads a scientific team addressing concerns about watershed health, use and conservation.
» Grammy-nominated producer and Florida Atlantic University eminent scholar Michael Zager founded the university's commercial music program four years ago. It now has 90 students majoring and its own unique, student-run record label, Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, that released two CDs last year. Hoot/Wisdom has eight faculty and student artists either recording or about to start recording.
Research With Teeth
Toothbrush and toothpaste recommendations: Buy products with the ADA seal, and buy the newest available. They have the most up-to-date research behind them.
Education: Bachelor's, 1996, University of St. Andrews; Ph.D., 2000, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
Non-clinical: "I've always enjoyed research and discovery. With research, it's always new."
Following dental researcher Peter Murray around his laboratory is far easier than following what he's saying about tooth pulp stem cells, scaffolds and the metabolic dyes in the tissue culture flasks he examines.
This much becomes clear: Murray, 37, is key to the plan of Nova Southeastern's 8-year-old dental college to make a name in pioneering research. Murray researches using adult stem cells to grow teeth and tissue to restore and replace diseased and damaged ones -- work that Dr. Marc Balsam, president of the American Association of Endodontists, singled out as innovative in the association's December journal.
A native of Scotland, Murray came to Nova three years ago at the behest of Dr. Franklin Garcia-Godoy, the college's associate dean for research and editor of the American Journal of Dentistry. The college at the time had only one 400-sq.-ft. lab. "I was taking a big risk," Murray says. Now it has 35,000 square feet of research lab space.
Garcia-Godoy and Murray have brought $2.5 million in research money to Nova, including a $1-million National Institutes of Health award to devise faster and cheaper biocompatability safety testing methods by using cultured organ tissue in labs rather than human and animal trials. The work could lower development costs in all medical fields. They also work on improving toothpastes, filling materials and other treatments. But adult stem-cell work holds the breakthrough promise. "We're very interested in where stem cell research can take dentistry," says dean Robert Uchin. "That's why Peter's here."
Murray calls it the future of dental care. It also fits the research strategy of a young college. Says Murray: "We have to jump ahead of the competition to get anywhere."