Oral Health Sciences

Andrew Jakymiw, Ph.D.


Dr. Jakymiw’s research is focused on the study and development of cell-penetrating peptide (CPP)-mediated targeted delivery strategies for therapeutic nucleic acid-based drugs in the treatment of varied diseases, including cancer and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as in the prevention of early ischemic injury in organ transplantations. Moreover, his laboratory is also involved in the study of cell entry mechanisms that CPPs employ to deliver various nucleic acid-based cargos into cells, which could prove instrumental in informing new CPP designs toward the advancement of more efficacious peptide carriers for human therapies.
Faculty Directory Information for Dr. Jakymiw can be found by following this link.

Chad Novince, Ph.D.


Subramanya Pandruvada, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Dept of Oral Health Sciences
College of Dental Medicine

We are a basic science laboratory working on interactions between tumors and their microenvironment that regulate key cellular functions dictating therapeutic outcome. In addition, our lab is also interested in understanding the osteoimmunological connections in periodontal diseases. Tumor microenvironment Tumors are heterogeneous organs, composed of diverse stromal components, which are not just bystanders in the tumorigenic process. The tumor microenvironment (TME) of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is comprised of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), immune cells, and other supporting cells. Mutations in the HNSCC cells, such as alterations to TP53, PI3K, and specific gene expression profiles, contribute to derangements in cancer and microenvironment cells such as overproduction of chemokines, increased ROS and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). Furthermore, the adaptive immune response is suppressed in HNSCC through overexpression of critical cytokines, such as transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), and alterations in antigen processing machinery, together contributing to EMT and immune suppression. We are currently investigating how immune cells and tumor cells interact and how productive and non-productive anti-tumor immune responses affect the development of cancer in humanized and syngeneic rodent models. In addition, our lab is interested in understanding the role of other innate immune cell types such as macrophages in the recognition of tumor lesions and adaptive anti-tumor immunity. Gaining a better understanding of the molecular pathways involved in the bi-directional communication between tumor and stroma will help us develop novel and better cancer therapies that target critical components of the tumor microenvironment. Osteoimmunological aspects of periodontal diseases Periodontal disease (PD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by the destruction of connective tissue, tooth loss and systemic infections. Individuals with PD present with a complex array of inflammatory mediators, and cellular infiltration by neutrophils, lymphocytes and monocytes/macrophages. Although macrophages comprise 5-30% of cells identified in the cellular infiltrate of human periodontal disease lesions, how macrophage skewing contributes to periodontal disease, and more specifically in the downstream development of a macrophage immune response to PD-associated bacteria are relatively unknown. In addition to tissue resident macrophages, macrophages can be recruited from bone marrow into tissues in the steady state or in response to inflammation at any point during development. Since macrophages play an important role in the process of tissue damage, depending on their origins and activation status, their migration within the gingival tissues may be critical in the outcome of periodontal inflammation. We are investigating the role of macrophage maturation stage during recruitment that may be key to determine its ultimate function.

Dr. Ozlem Yilmaz, D.D.S., Ph.D.


Faculty Directory information for Dr. Yilmez can be found by following this link.
Lab website can be found here.