Federal, private funding to establish inflammatory disease center at UNC

CHAPEL HILL - Growing awareness of important links between inflamed gums and other mouth tissues and such life-threatening conditions as heart disease and stroke has led the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and several private companies to award $12.7 million to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers.

UNC-CH School of Dentistry experts on those links and their colleagues will use the money to establish a new Comprehensive Center for Inflammatory Disorders and conduct numerous studies and educational activities. The support, coupled with funds already awarded to investigators at the dental school in this area, brings total support for the center to $21 million.

No grant as large has ever been given by the federal institute nor received by the school of dentistry.

"Our new project is being designed chiefly to look at the basic processes of inflammation and the relationship of these processes to oral inflammation, such as gum disease and systemic medical conditions," said Dr. Patrick Flood, associate professor of periodontology and associate dean for research. "The main focus will be to understand the underlying mechanisms of all types of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, gum disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even the birth of pre-term and low-birth-weight babies."

Inflammation is the normally protective -- but sometimes destructive -- immune system response that occurs when the body perceives a real threat, such as infectious microorganisms, or a threat that apparently does not exist, he said. Arthritis may be an example and result of the latter.

Flood, also associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the UNC-CH School of Medicine, will serve as principal investigator for the five-year project. Dr. James D. Beck, Kenan professor of dental ecology, will be co-director and co-principal investigator.

"This will be a mul

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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