Multi-Million Dollar UH3 Spotlight

Multi-principal investigators Dr. Margarete Ribeiro Dasilva and Dr. Roger B. Fillingim received a five-year $3,322,546 NIH UH3 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The MPIs provided the following information about their award. The project, “Photobiomodulation for the Management of Temporomandibular Disorder Pain,” aims to rigorously test the efficacy of laser and LED light therapy for individuals experiencing painful Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs).

“Previous research has revealed that the mechanisms contributing to pain in people with TMDs are complex and multifactorial, leaving dentists with few treatment options and patients with little hope for controlling their pain. However, emerging evidence suggests that photobiomodulation could help reduce pain caused by TMDs.”
– Dr. Dasilva and Dr. Fillingim

Throughout the next five years, they will investigate the potential of Photobiomodulation (PBM), also known as cold laser therapy, in managing pain for TMD patients.

Dasilva + Fillingim

During this time, they will enroll 130 TMD participants in a carefully controlled clinical trial to accomplish their goals. Through the funding support from this award, they acquired two state-of-the-art PBM machines, allowing them to complete their research.

They want to thank the UFCD Office of Research, who provided an invaluable pilot award, allowing them to gather essential pilot data and showcase the feasibility of their research proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The UFCD seed grant was pivotal to them securing the NIH award.

By the conclusion of this UH3 clinical trial, their ultimate goal is to determine whether PBM can offer an alternative treatment for individuals living with painful TMDs. In the future, they hope that the findings of this research will lead to enhancing pain treatment and reducing the use of opioids. They hope that this research also leads to further studies to determine dosing and treatment parameters, to explore further the functional mechanisms that may underly the effect of PBM on pain responses and sensitivity, and to possibly explore the role of sex hormones since women are known to be more prone to TMD.

Dr. Maggie Ribeiro-Dasilva and Dr. Roger Fillingim have collaborated on TMD research for over 15 years. They both were investigators for the OPPERA (Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment) and SOPPRANO (Study of Orofacial Pain and Propranolol) studies. They are very fortunate to have an outstanding team of collaborators, including Drs. Cesar Migiorati and Frank Gibson from UFCD and Dr. Zhigang Li from Biostatistics.