Poonum Bharal

At the ADA/DENTSPLY Student Clinician Research Awards Program, Poonum Bharal won second place in the Basic Science Research category for her poster presentation “Transcriptional Response of Mouse Fibroblasts to Porphyromonas Gingivalis Infection.” The awards program was held in San Antonio, Texas on October 18 during the 2008 American Dental Association Annual Session. Students from every dental school in the U.S. participate.

Poonum Bharal (D2010) successfully combines her studies in dental school with part-time work in the Philips Institute as a student member of Dr. Janina Lewis’ team. Dr. Lewis’ research focuses on major pathogens of periodontal disease—specifically, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia—for which she has received several research grants from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lewis encouraged Poonum to pursue a project that investigates the response of mouse fibroblasts to a massive Porphyromonas gingivalis infection.

Now in its 49th year, the Student Clinician Research Program was initiated in 1959 as a joint venture between DENTSPLY International and the American Dental Association. The program includes students in 35 countries, and over 5,000 students have participated in this program. The Student Clinicians present basic science or clinical research in a poster presentation using the format of the American Association of Dental Research.

Poonum has presented her research at a number of conferences since winning first place for her work last spring at the VCU’s School of Dentistry Clinic and Research Day.

“I am honored to receive the awards and accolades,” said Poonum, “but the real master-mind is Dr. Lewis. She deserves much of the credit for guidance and support of this work.”

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