Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Luciana Shaddox
Dr. Shaddox has been working at University of Florida College of Dentistry Department of Periodontology since 2006. Since her second year of dental school, Shaddox has actively participated in the scientific research development in Periodontology, both nationally and internationally. She joined the University of Florida Oral Biology department as a research scholar in 2004, developing part of her Ph.D. thesis project involving the microbiology of smokers with periodontal disease. Following a post-doctoral fellowship in Periodontal Microbiology, she joined the Periodontology department as an Assistant Professor in 2006. Shaddox has mainly devoted her research time on a study funded by the NIH on aggressive periodontal disease in children and adolescents.
This study aims to tease out immunological, microbiological and genetic factors involved with localized aggressive periodontal disease, a rare type of gum disease that affects young individuals, which usually leads to early tooth loss if left untreated. This disease tends to affect mostly underserved populations, African-Americans, and interestingly, only very specific teeth. Dr. Shaddox was able to gather a group of children from different counties of north Florida diagnosed with this disease, as well their family members, to better understand the inflammatory mechanisms and possible genetic markers behind the aggressiveness of this disease. Shaddox and her group have found that patients with this disease present a hyper-inflammatory response to bacteria. This hyper-inflammatory response may result in the tissue destruction observed in this disease. Additionally, some of the healthy siblings of the diseased patients apparently present with a hyper-inflammatory response as well, which may dictate future initiation of disease. Possible genetic markers may be predisposing these young patients to this inflammatory response and thus to a higher disease susceptibility.
Shaddox’s recent R01 grant renewal is aimed at expanding this cohort to tease out possible genetic markers and specific inflammatory mechanisms playing a role in this disease. This work will be in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Wallace, from the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Dr. Shannon Wallet, immunologist, and Dr. Ikramuddin Aukhil and Dr. Peter Harrison, periodontists, from the department of Periodontology, and with numerous clinical sites they collaborate with in Florida (Tallahassee and Jacksonville Health Departments, UF Pediatrics and its satellite clinics).
Shaddox has also been leading a clinical research project to investigate the relationship between periodontal disease and type II Diabetes Mellitus, as part of an industry sponsored study.
Shaddox is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious American Academy of Periodontology Teaching Fellowship Award and the University of Florida Assistant Professor Excellence Award. She has authored and co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed publications and has mentored several students with interest in research, many of whom were also awarded for their research endeavors at national and international meetings. Shaddox was promoted to Associated Professor with Tenure at University of Florida in 2012 and continues to further the knowledge of periodontal diseases through her research development and teaching.