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Research Center Profile:
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers School of Dental Medicine

Center Information

Dr. Rafael Benoliel
Professor, Department of Diagnostic Sciences; Associate Dean for Research
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
Room D741, 110 Bergen Street,
Newark, NJ 01701
(973) 972-1921; (973) 972-7615
(973) 972-1568 (fax)
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Contact Center

Therapeutic Areas

Dental and Oral Health

Center Overview

The Rutgers Clinical Research Organization at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) assembles the expertise, resources, intellect and motivation of faculty and staff across two medical schools, a dental school, six clinical research centers, and the technical and scientific capabilities of a state-wide institution to conduct clinical research in nearly all therapeutic areas. Each school and campus provides their own set of comprehensive research activities and is supported by a core of shared administrative competencies in human subjects protections, financial management, legal management and technology transfer. The CRO provides a portal into RBHS to select services at specific sites, or concurrent services at multiple sites across the state; it matches internal capabilities with external constituents. A full description of our main biomedical research schools can be found at the following links:

  • Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, Newark
  • New Jersey Medical School, Newark
  • Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick
    • Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick

The Rutgers CRO may be reached by contacting Ms. Diane Ambrose, PhD at

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine (RSDM), in Newark, NJ, is one of nine schools at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Services (RBHS) and the only dental school in the state. It is one of the state's major resources for predoctoral and postdoctoral specialty dental education, and foremost in providing outstanding continuing education programs for our state's oral health care practitioners. The school’s expanding expertise and understanding of anatomy, embryology, microbiology, and molecular biology of oral diseases is translated to our students and provides the foundation for treating our patients with the newest techniques and materials. Advanced biomedical research programs continue to improve the quality of life for New Jersey’s diverse populations and the entire nation.

RSDM centers and areas of excellence include:

  • The Craniofacial Center of New Jersey at The University Hospital
  • Center for Oral Infectious Diseases
  • Center of Pharmacogenomics and Complex Disease Research
  • Special Care Treatment Center, Pediatric Dentistry

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

RBHS has 10 schools located throughout New Jersey. Our main campuses are Newark, Piscataway and New Brunswick

The Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences System
RBHS has 10 schools located throughout New Jersey. Our main campuses are Newark, Piscataway and New Brunswick. RBHS Schools include:

  • College of Nursing
  • Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute
  • Earnest Mario School of Pharmacy
  • Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
  • New Jersey Medical School
  • Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
  • Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • School of Health Related Professions
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Public Health

Rutgers Clinical Research Organization

  • The Rutgers Clinical Research Organization (CRO) offers a gateway for current and future patients and sponsors into campus-wide clinical trial activities.
  • The Rutgers CRO works with private sponsors to provide a single University-wide contact.
  • The Rutgers CRO works with clinical trial units and research offices of each RBHS school to efficiently and effectively match trial and sponsor needs with University resources.

RBHS health care system includes:
Over 2 million patient visits to RBHS and affiliated healthcare facilities and faculty practice offices in 2012

Two Affiliated Principal Teaching Hospitals:

  • The University Hospital, Newark, NJ
  • Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick NJ

Three University Hospitals

  • Hackensack University Medical Center - Hackensack, NJ
  • Meridian Hospitals Corporation/Jersey Shore University Medical Center - Neptune, NJ
  • University Medical Center at Princeton - Princeton, NJ

Owns and operates University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC), a mental health and addiction services network - statewide.

Affiliations with more than 80 New Jersey hospitals and/or health systems.

More than 15 statewide centers of excellence, including

  • The Cancer Institute of New Jersey the first and only National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center in the state, and
  • The comprehensive New Jersey Medical School Cancer Center established in October 2006 and one of only 14 National Cancer Institute-designated Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Programs (MCCOP).
  • The RSDM Dental CRC, the only such center in New Jersey.

Clinical Research Experience

RSMD is dedicated to research at all levels - basic, translational and clinical. Samples of research below highlight recent accomplishments at RSMD.

Scott Diehl, PhD, is professor and director of the Center of Pharmacogenomics and Complex Disease Research. He has performed a gene mapping of susceptibility to periodontitis. He is currently looking at 1) dental and skeletal fluorosis, a condition that weakens the enamel of the teeth and bones and 2) whether genetic variations are responsible for the side effects associated with opioid treatments, usually the only effective medications for people suffering severe pain.

Gill Diamond, PhD, is investigating the innate immune response of mucosal epithelia and how to maximize its activity against pathogens and minimize its activity against the host. Specifically, he is examining how tracheal and gingival epithelial cells recognize bacterial pathogens and respond with the increased expression of two classes of host defense peptides. He is also investigating the therapeutic potential of antimicrobial peptide mimetics against bacterial and fungal colonization.

Eli Eliav, DDS, PhD, is working to find more definitive diagnosis and more effective treatments for neuropathic pain by developing and testing refined sensory testing methods and applying novel treatment modalities. In addition, he studies the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines, anti-inflammatory cytokines and stem cells in neuropathic pain. He is also beginning to assess genetic and strain differences in oro-facial neuropathic and inflammatory pain.

Daniel Fine, DMD, Chair of the Department of Oral Biology and Director of the Center for Oral Infectious Diseases, studies host-parasite interactions with a focus on A.actinomycetemcomitans and its relationship to initiation of localized aggressive periodontitis (LAP). His work has both a clinical and molecular genetic approach. Studies include: 1) investigation into A actinomycetemcomitans adhesive molecules which bind to mammalian cells; 2) analysis of bone loss induced by A actinomycetemcomitans in a rat model; 3) design of new antimicrobial drugs derived from lactoferrin; 4) identification of an anti- A actinomycetemcomitans and anti-streptoccocal factors derived from saliva; and 5) bacterial and host risk factors associated with LAP. Dr. Fine continues to seek solutions to the many oral health care disparities among populations in inner cities.

David Goteiner, DDS, was the lead investigator in a study to determine whether acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and angina patients have a greater prevalence of IL-1 polymorphism at the time of hospital admission than groups without ACS and angina. The team concluded that for patients 60 years and older, there was a statistically significant correlation between ACS/angina and IL-1 polymorphism. Patients with ACS/angina were more likely to evidence positive IL-1 polymorphism and severe periodontitis. The findings were published in the Journal of Periodontology. "My hope is the results of this study will…also provide another tool for the early detection of heart disease so patients can quickly receive treatment."

Scott Kachlany, PhD, assistant professor, is working on a bacterium that causes oral disease and produces a toxin known as leukotoxin. Using molecular biology, immunology, biochemistry and genetic analysis, he is examining how leukotoxin contributes to disease and damages host cells. Specifically, he is working to (1) identify the genes that are required for production of active leukotoxin; (2) study the genes and proteins using genetic and biochemical approaches; and (3) grow crystals of leukotoxin to solve its three-dimensional atomic structure. This new information is leading to the design of therapeutic agents that can disrupt leukotoxin activity and ultimately treat or prevent diseases such as periodontal disease, leukemia and lymphoma.

Daniel Kadouri, PhD, is examining predatory bacteria and using them as biological control agents. Specifically he is looking at 1) understanding the mechanisms involved in predator-prey interactions and the “crosstalk” between the predator and its microbial host; 2) the use of Bdellovibrio to reduce biofilms of oral pathogens and to control drug resistant bacteria; 3) understanding the biology of species of Micavibrio. using a genetic and biochemical approach. Other research encompassed using of Galleria mellonella as an infection model system for the study of oral bacteria, isolating antimicrobial and biofilm degrading compounds from Gram-negative bacteria, and using of microbial compounds for post operative pain relief.

Jeffrey Kaplan, PhD, is conducting studies on various human, animal and plant pathogens. The main goal of his research is to discover novel methods to prevent infection using techniques that do not involve conventional antibiotics. Specifically, Dr. Kaplan is working on biofilm growth and detachment. This work resulted in the discovery of dispersin B, an enzyme which disrupts biofilms.

Narayanan Ramasubbu, PhD, focuses on structural biology to understand the structure-function relationships of proteins that have an impact in the oral cavity. He is currently studying the role of salivary a-amylase in dental caries pathogenesis. He is also looking at the role of aromatic residues in starch binding and S. gordonii in bacterial binding. His study of enzymatic removal of oral biofilms has identified a novel glycoside hydrolase from the periodontal pathogen, A actinomycetemcomitans. Agents and other enzymes that enhance the activity of this enzyme have been identified and studies in formulating an even better enzyme are in progress.

Vincent K. Tsiagbe, MS, PhD, is studying the relationships among normal cells that defend the body against infections and the way in which those relationships are used for B-cell lymphoma growth. Another aspect of his work is determining if viral genes can be “turned on” in B cells. In addition, Dr. Tsiagbe exames the role of immune cells in the development of gradual bone loss in periodontal disease.

Facility Description

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
RSDM is located on the Newark Campus along with New Jersey Medical School, the School of Health Related Professions and the School of Nursing. RSDM provides a full range of oral health services for children and adults statewide. All educational services are offered on the Newark and Scotch Plains campus. Clinical services are offered on the school’s Newark and Scotch Plains campus, as well as satellite clinics in Galloway, Northfield and Somerdale. Clinical services range from routine preventive care to complex treatment, including dental implants, periodontics; orofacial pain, diagnostic and biopsy services, temporomandibular, facial and head pain that are not teeth related, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, surgical treatment of injuries, oral medicine, prosthodontics and treatment for patients with special underlying conditions or illnesses. Inpatient care and teaching are conducted at affiliated The University Hospital.

The newly constructed, 1,600 square foot state-of-the-art RSDM Clinical Research Center in the Oral Health Pavilion provides the infrastructure to enhance clinical and translational investigations and serves as a resource for the training of clinical investigators. This facility includes four fully-equipped dental operatories with digital radiographic capabilities, a laboratory capable of processing microbiologic specimens as well as conducting routine test procedures, a conference room, patient reception and waiting area, private interview room, records and clinical supply storage room. This CRC enhances RSDM abilities to secure external federal funding in accordance with the emphasis on clinical and translations investigation contained within the "National Institute of Health Roadmap," as well as the school’s ability to attract industry-sponsored research. Currently, several ongoing clinical research initiatives are utilizing the RSDM CRC.

For research and patient services, RSDM at the Newark campus maintains some of its own core laboratory and imaging services; faculty and students also utilize shared core technology located at University Hospital. For example, the Microscopic Imaging Suite for the Life Sciences is a core technology laboratory supported by the New Jersey Dental School for use by all members of the University. The facility provides expertise and instrumentation for the state-of-the-art practice of Electron Microscopy and Light Microscopy. Specific techniques provided are: Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Laser Capture Microscopy (LCM), and Fluorescence Microscopy (FM). Full service histological and immunochemical procedures are provided and include cryogenic sample preparation, immunogold and cytochemical staining, digitized and high-resolution imaging. There is the possibility of state of the art pre-clinical study in animals.

Investigator Experience

  • Biomedical Studies
  • Community Health
  • Diagnostic Services - Oral Medicine, Orofacial Pain
  • Endodontics
  • Implants
  • Oral Biology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Restorative Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Restorative Dentistry Implant Center

Patient Demographics

We serve an economically and ethnically diverse patient population from the entire state of New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania.

Contact Center

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