Researchers, learners connect and share ideas at AADOCR Research Exchange

Kristin Artinger, PhD, speaks from a podium at 3M

Researchers and learners at the School of Dentistry gathered to exchange ideas and learn from one another at a research exchange event that brought together various areas of expertise. 

On Thursday, July 20, 90 individuals from 3M, the University of Minnesota and other oral health organizations gathered at the 3M Innovation Center for an American Association of Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research Exchange, featuring faculty from the School of Dentistry, members of the Minnesota section of the AADOCR and learners from the School of Dentistry’s Minnesota Student Research Group. 

The event sought to “form an ongoing collaborative effort and make new connections for the common purpose of advancing dental health research,” according to Paul Klaiber, Minnesota section president of AADOCR and product development specialist at 3M Oral Care. 

“The depth and breadth of what the School of Dentistry’s researchers study is astounding,” Klaiber reflected as he welcomed researchers to the day. “Today, they’ve sent the next generation of oral health researchers here to learn and network.” 

The event kicked off with a keynote address from Kristin Bruk Artinger, PhD, Associate Dean of Research and Discovery at the School of Dentistry. Artinger presented an overview of her research on the genetic and epigenetic regulation of neural crest development. She also shared her vision for the future of the school’s research. 

Artinger speaks at the podium

“Our research community is so strong, and our students have really spearheaded initiatives that foster connection,” she said. “I hope to continue enhancing our school’s research while also connecting with our community and our clinical partners.” 

José Maldonado Ortiz, DDS '18, PhD '18, investigator at the Institute for Molecular Virology and assistant research investigator at HealthPartners, shared his research on the functions of the salivary glands and the impact of dry mouth. 

Nicholas Fischer, PhD '21, DDS ’25, presented on biomaterial strategies for controlling hemidesmosome formation and junctional epithelium regeneration. “I work on a broad problem that has to do with percutaneous devices,” he explained of his studies on methods of preventing infection in medical implant devices. “But nature provides inspiration for our work.” Fischer seeks to explore biomaterial strategies that increase the success of implant attachment.  

Following Fischer’s presentation, attendees explored poster presentations from attendees and enjoyed tours of the 3M Innovation Center.

Carola Carrera, PhD ’16, senior research specialist with 3M Oral Care, provided an overview of industry research and what it’s like to work in the industry, rather than clinic or academia. 

“Being in the industry is different,” she said. “We ask the question ‘what if,’ and our research focuses on applied science: finding a solution that works.” 

Aparna Ingleshwar, PhD,  researcher of oral medicine and diagnosis, gave the final presentation of the day on her proposal for the integration of multidisciplinary practice-based research experiences into dental schools.

“The goal is to foster scientific inquiry among dental students,” she explained. “Only 20% of dental students go on to become scientists in academic tracks. We want to introduce students to new possibilities by engaging them in practice-based research.”  

Ellen Bosl, vice president of research and development for 3M Oral Health Care Solutions, provided closing remarks for the day. 

“I am grateful for the AADOCR for the opportunity to bring together a diverse set of people all allied around the intention and purpose of improving oral health,” she said. “We're so lucky to be located in this area with the School of Dentistry, MDRCBB, and clinical systems that allow us to collaborate, partner and bring innovation forward."

Throughout the event, learners, faculty, researchers, clinicians and industry professionals had the opportunity to connect, share research ideas and discover new ways of innovating together—fulfilling exactly what Bosl, and others, had hoped to achieve. 

“The research exchange gave us the opportunity to participate in conversations surrounding current topics in dental research and ways to stay involved in research as clinicians and scientists,” reflected Jenna VanDenAvond, DDS ’25, member of the Minnesota Student Research Group. “As students at the School of Dentistry, we are lucky to have faculty and partners in academic, industrial and health systems research who support and encourage our desire to learn about each entity’s role in the betterment of oral health care delivery. It means a great deal to us to be invited to participate in events like this and represent the next generation of dental researchers.”