Oral biologist Hyun (Michel) Koo, D.D.S., Ph.D., and microbiologist Robert Marquis, Ph.D., both researchers in the Center for Oral Biology, will receive Distinguished Scientist Awards at a meeting in Australia in June of the International Association of Dental Research, the largest organization of dental researchers in the world. The awards recognize outstanding and innovative achievement in dental research worldwide.
Koo, who is on the faculty of the Eastman Department of Dentistry, has already established a track record of success and will receive the Young Investigator Award. Marquis, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, will receive the Senior Investigator award for a lifetime of achievement.
Koo is a dentist who became interested in food science and has used his knowledge of both fields to try to stop bacteria like Streptococcus mutans that cause cavities. Such bacteria munch on the sugars that we eat and then secrete acids that dig holes in our teeth. Koo, who has been honored four times previously by IADR and has been with the University since 1999, seeks to identify specific compounds in foods and other natural products that help prevent cavities. He has identified compounds in propolis, a sticky substance made by honeybees to protect their hives, that inhibit the activity of a key enzyme that forms dental plaque. Currently he is studying whether certain components found in cranberry juice protect against cavities.
"Dr. Koo's work in this area helps us understand the pivotal role of nutrition in the development and prevention of dental decay," said Cyril Meyerowitz, D.D.S., M.S., chair of the Eastman Department of Dentistry and director of Eastman Dental Center.