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DouGLas LEVErE

The manufac- turer called on School of Dental Medicine scientists for help. Peter and Mary Bush, husband-and-wife UB researchers, had recently presented at a company symposium in Frankfurt, discussing the database they and colleagues had compiled of the chemical and physical characteristics of more than 100 modern and historic composite resins.

If the suspicious foreign material were in fact genuine, it would contain aluminum, barium and silicon and have the same microstructure as the brand- name material whose properties the UB scientists had documented.

Peter Bush, director of the South Campus Instrumentation Center in Squire Hall, offered the center’s services pro bono. Within days, the company had an answer. And the School of Dental Medicine had strengthened its relation- ship with the manufacturer, a major industry player that had already retained Carlos Munoz, chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry, to lead a multiyear clinical trial for a new composite resin.

For an institution looking to expand collaborations with private industry, the scenario was pure win-win.

interested in what’s next

The School of Dental Medicine is making relationships with the private sector a high priority. Privately funded projects enable faculty and students to conduct cutting-edge research, improve oral health care and benefit consumers by bringing better products to the market. School-industry connections also enrich the educational experience for students who will be working with the dental industry in their practices.

School-industry partnerships also generate revenue for the school. In

the first 10 months of fiscal year 2009, faculty conducted more than $986,000 worth of research funded by industry, according to Anne Meyer, the school’s associate dean for research.

In recent years, more than 100 companies have supported projects at the School of Dental Medicine, including clinical trials and laboratory evaluations of products ranging from dental adhe- sives and whiteners to a nasal spray that could act as a dental anesthetic.

“Our faculty are not just interested in what’s available now,” says Dean Richard Buchanan. “They are interested in what’s next.”

“It’s vital to the world at large, be- cause what we’re talking about is moving materials and treatments into the clinic,” Meyer says. “In dentistry, we want to move things from the laboratory bench to the point of care.”

That is the perspective Carlos Munoz brought when he came to the school in 2004. He had extensive experience part- nering in research with dental products suppliers as a faculty member at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. Indeed, the German company with the counterfeit problem was one of Munoz’s long-standing clients.

And although the school’s quick work on the company’s suspect resin did not generate revenue, the effort enriched the connection in other ways.

Dhruvika Patel, a dental student, had the opportunity to participate in the investigation. She obtained samples of the suspect composite resin and other potentially fraudulent materials through relatives in India and examined them, along with a sample from China, under a

DouGLas LEVErE

annE MEYEr anD GraDuatE stuDEnt ChaitanYa PuraniK in thE surFaCE sCiEnCE LaB CLEan rooM.

scanning electron microscope in Bush’s lab.

The research was an opportunity for the school to show off the capabilities of its unique composite resin database. And the project generated goodwill with an important industry partner. “The good- will has an effect in that the company will think of us again to sponsor another study,” Peter Bush says.

established and new

Partnering with industry is a work-inten- sive process of building trust. Longtime faculty members such as Robert Genco, director of the Periodontal Disease

Clinical Research Center, and Sebastian Ciancio, chair of the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics and director of the Center for Dental Studies, have developed strong relationships with industry in their de- cades at UB. CarLos MunoZ anD MarC CaMPiLLo in thE BioMatEriaLs LaB.

Working with industry partners, Genco was principal investigator for four multicenter clinical trials that were pivotal in FDA approval for products.

Ciancio, who has overseen more than

Summer 2009 ubdentist 13

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