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Current therapies for gum disease involve cleaning pathogenic bacteria away from the root of a patient’s teeth. But the bad bacteria always return after approximately three months, necessitating long-term management of the disease and consistent maintenance.

Dr. Ning Yu, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Forsyth Institute, is working on a better treatment for periodontitis.

“We are investigating the host and microbiome interaction in periodontitis—especially how natural regulation of inflammation pathways can help break the chronic inflammation cycle between the host and microbiome,” Yu says.

Yu recently received the 2021 AADR Anne D. Haffajee Fellowship from the American Association for Dental Research. This $10,000 grant will allow her to continue and expand upon her research.

Yu’s preliminary data supports a growing body of evidence suggesting that eliciting resolution of inflammation pathways plays an important role in alleviating the negative effects of gum disease. In an animal model, Yu found that transgenic mice that have been modified to over-express the RvE1 receptor, which reduces excess inflammation, developed less periodontal bone loss than non-modified mice. The AADR fellowship will allow her to explore this finding further.

“For this new project, I would like to dig deeper into the metagenomics landscape so we can know better what is happening in this periodontitis and how inflammation resolution can affect the microbiome,” Yu says.

The AADR fellowship is named for Dr. Anne D. Haffajee—a well-known periodontal researcher who also spent most of her career at the Forsyth Institute.

“I’m honored to receive a fellowship under her name to carry on the tradition and the legacy,” Yu says.