RSDM Unveils New $16 Million Research Facilities

From Left: Congressman Donald Payne Jr., Dean Cecile A. Feldman, RBHS Provost Patricia Fitzgerald-Bocarsly and Dr. Daniel Fine, Chair of the Department of Oral Biology.

RSDM on Friday marked the grand opening of its expanded research facilities, completed with $16 million in state funding.

The new facilities, totaling 25,000 square feet, include an expansion of the Center for Oral Biology, where researchers are working on treatments for cancer, systemic illnesses and drug-resistant pathogens, in addition to oral health diseases.

“The research that will go on inside this state-of-the-art, new building will save lives,” said Congressman Donald Payne Jr. (D-10), who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  “This is an impressive testament to the great work of researchers at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. The new research labs, offices for research faculty, and collaborative spaces mean that there will be more space for big ideas.”

Said Dean Cecile A. Feldman, “The work here will create jobs and improve healthcare.”

RSDM received a $16 million grant from the New Jersey Higher Education Bond Fund to complete the work. It includes new space for the school’s center for microbiology and immunology. Original labs, which were built during the 1970s and 1980s, have been overhauled and contain facilities for research on biomaterials and other projects. Labs for pain research and behavioral science also received a makeover and new office space was added.

Groundbreaking RSDM researchers use microbes from the oral cavity to develop potential therapies for a range of systemic illnesses. They have received several multimillion-dollar federal grants, along with private investment and industrial funds.

Among the center’s research is a therapy that could potentially treat cancer and autoimmune diseases such as HIV, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical trials on humans are scheduled to begin next year.

Research for the U.S. military explores the disease-fighting potential of predatory bacteria — microbes that devour germs immune to antibiotics. Findings could help halt a global epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria that has led to a rise in untreatable illnesses.

Other major research at RSDM involves using stem cells to replace decayed dental pulp, studies on a rare form of periodontitis that affects African American adolescents, and research on the causes and treatment of chronic pain.