UFCD’s Comprehensive Training Program in Oral Biology

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA)
National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Award # T90DE021990/R90DE022530

The college has been recognized with ADEA’s Gies Award  for its Comprehensive Training Program in Oral Biology. This award is for the commitment to outstanding research and the college’s training environment.

In response to a request from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research to provide Institutional Training for a Dental and Craniofacial Workforce, the University of Florida College of Dentistry has developed a Comprehensive Training Program in Oral Biology. This training grant is one of 15 awarded by NIDCR to US academic institutions. The UFCD program builds on over 25 years of successful training of basic and clinician scientists in oral health research. Using the extensive educational, scientific and clinical resources at the university, a comprehensive series of pre and post-doctoral training opportunities in research areas are provided, directly related to oral health and diseases. These programs produce highly skilled and interactive scientists prepared to generate new knowledge and translate their discoveries to advances in the detection, prevention, treatment and cure of diseases and abnormalities of the oral and craniofacial complex.

Programs of Study

The scientific areas encompassed in this Comprehensive Training Program in Oral Biology include, but are not limited to, the Human Microbiome, Oral Infectious Diseases, Mechanistic Connections between Oral and Systemic Health, Virology, Salivary Gland Biology, Autoimmunity, Bone Biology, Head and Neck Cancers, Computational Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Stem Cell Biology. 

Established and time-tested interdisciplinary research training programs in the UF Colleges of Dentistry and Medicine are utilized with particular emphasis on the Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (IDP), and clinical research training programs supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Training Opportunities


  • DMD-PhD dual-degree program: Individuals in this track will complete three years of dental school, then complete PhD training and the requirements of their 4th year of dental training during years four through seven. Options for a training focus in clinical investigation are also available for dual-degree candidates through the IDP and CTSI programs.
  • PhD training for BS/BA or MS holders: Individuals in this track will pursue the PhD degree in the IDP program in an “advanced concentration” with the option of augmenting their training with formal course work and a certificate in clinical investigation through the CTSI.


  • PhD-trained, non-degree seeking:  Individuals in this track will pursue traditional intensive post-doctoral training and have the option of augmenting their training with course work in clinical investigation
  • DMD (DDS)-PhD non-degree seeking:  Individuals in this track will be supported by the R90 component and pursue intensive post-doctoral training with the option of augmenting their skillset with course work in clinical investigation.  

Program Administration

Program DirectorDr. Jose Lemos, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Oral Biology
Associate DirectorDr. Mary Ellen Davey, PhD Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Oral Biology
UFCD Office of ResearchRonda Breton, Assistant Director Research Administration
Christina Mason, Research Administrator III
DMD Student Liaison

Denise Webb, Office of Research

Internal Advisory Committee
Dr. Robert Burne, PhD Distinguished Professor, Louis and Marge Atkins Endowed Professor, University of Florida College of Dentistry
Dr. Roger Fillingim, PhD Professor and Director of Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, University of Florida College of Dentistry
Dr. Isabel Garcia, DMD, MPH Dean University of Florida College of Dentistry
Dr. William Hogan, MD, MS Professor, Director of Biomedical Informatics and Data Science, University of Florida College of Medicine
Dr. Wayne McCormack, PhD Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor, Director UF Health Office of Biomedical Research Career Development, University of Florida College of Medicine
Dr. Patricia Pereira, DDS, PhD Clinical Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, University of Florida College of Dentistry
External Advisory Committee
Dr. Mina Mina, DMD, PhD Professor and Chair Program Director NIDCR T90/R90 Skeletal, Craniofacial and Oral Biology Director DMD, PhD Program UConn Health
Dr. Stefan Ruhl, DDS, PhD Professor & Dean Emeritus University of Michigan, School of Dentistry

Training Grant Mentors

Name/Degree(s) College/Department Primary & Secondary Research Interest
Dr. Jacqueline Abranches, Associate Professor DN – Oral BiologyStreptococcal and fungal oral infections; clinical translational research
Dr. Jeannine Brady, Professor DN – Oral BiologyHost: pathogen interactions, bacterial adhesion, and immunomodulation
Dr. Robert Burne, Distinguished ProfessorDN – Oral BiologyGenetics, physiology and pathogenesis of oral biofilm bacteria
Dr. Seunghee Cha, ProfessorDN – Oral Max & Diagnostic Sciences & Oral BiologyEpigenetic regulation of autoimmunity,Sjögren’s Syndrome, Stem cells/salivary glands
Dr. Edward Chan, ProfessorDN – Oral Biology & MD – Anatomy & Cell BiologyMicroRNA in cell biology, autoimmunity and oral cancer
Dr. Jia Chang, Assistant Professor DN – Oral Biology Bone development and turnover in inflammatory diseases
Dr. Jorge Frias-Lopez, Associate Professor DN-Oral Biology Complex human microbial systems (microbiomes) & their interactions with the host
Dr. Frank Gibson III, Associate ProfessorDN – Oral Biology Anaerobic bacterial infections, innate immunity, and animal modeling
Dr. Gregory Hudalla, Associate Professor ENG – Biomedical Engineering Biomaterials that direct host immune responses
Dr. Robert W. Huigens III, Associate Professor PH- Medicinal ChemistryNovel biofilm-eradicating agents that target human pathogens
Dr. Stephanie Karst, Professor MD – Molecular Genetics & Microbiology Determinants of murine Norovirus pathogenesis and basis of protective immunity
Dr. Lakshmyya Kesavalu, ProfessorDN – Periodontology & Oral BiologyAssociation between periodontal disease and systemic diseases
Dr. José Lemos, Associate ProfessorDN – Oral Biology Stress response and virulence mechanisms of oral streptococci and enterococci
Dr. Luis Martinez Torres, Associate ProfessorDN – Oral Biology Fungal pathogenesis and immunology
Dr. Cuong Nguyen, Associate Professor VM- Infectious Diseases & ImmunologyImmunobiology mechanism and genetic-based therapy for Sjögren’s syndrome
Dr. Bernadett Papp, Assistant Professor DN – Oral Biology Genome-wide epigenetic and signaling control of cell identity
Dr. Ann Progulske-Fox, Distinguished Professor & Program DirectorDN – Oral Biology Oral pathogens & human endothelial cells; P. gingivalis; oral/systemic health connections
Dr. Rolf Renne, ProfessorMD – Molecular Genetics & Microbiology Latent DNA replication and long-term episomal maintenance of KSHV/HHV-8
Dr. Blanka Sharma, Associate Professor ENG – Biomedical EngineeringStem cells and unhealthy tissues, nanoparticle-based targeted drug/gene delivery systems and tissue engineering scaffolds
Dr. Zsolt Toth, Associate Professor DN – Oral Biology Epigenetic regulation of oncogenic herpesvirus infection
Dr. Lin Zeng, Associate Professor DN – Oral Biology Bacterial carbohydrate metabolism and  virulence expression, Amino sugar metabolism by dental biofilms, Oral bacterial Ecology