Treating study patients in the Tallahassee dental clinic (June 2012)

Luciana Shaddox (center) with her research team members, Patricia Goncalves, pos-doctoral fellow (right), and Hiba Al-Kassab, research volunteer (left), in Leon County Health Department, Tallahassee, FL, conducting one of her main research projects in aggressive periodontitis in children. 

Research Interests

I started conducting research in Periodontology early in the second year of dental school in Brazil. Since then, I have developed my passion towards research and academia. It became my wish to contribute to knowledge in Periodontology through clinical-translational science and be able to not only apply it to my patients, but also to share it through teaching and publications.

The topic that has always fascinated me in Periodontology was how systemic inflammatory response connects to the local inflammatory response and oral cavity infection. Upon my hire at UF, I had the opportunity to develop two major clinical projects to better understand this relationship:

Characterization of immunological and microbiological response in aggressive periodontitis

In collaboration with Leon County Health Department, Shannon Wallet, PhD (Immunologist, Periodontology/Oral Biology) Ikramuddin Aukhil, DDS, MS (Periodontology), Theofilos Kotouzis, DDS, MS (Periodontology), Enrique Bimstein, DDS (Pediatrics) and Ingvar Magnusson, DDS, MS (Oral Biology/Periodontal Disease Research center). We have examined and treated over 60 children/young adults with aggressive periodontitis in Leon County, Tallahassee. This is an ongoing project. So far, we have generated data that enabled us to publish numerous abstracts and presentations in research meetings (many of which were awarded during these meetings), 4 journal articles, 2 submitted papers for publication in refereed journals and several in preparation. Moreover, we have obtained a substantial NIH R01 grant to tease out immunologic response and bacterial colonization characteristics in kids with disease and their susceptible siblings. The results of this study will provide clinicians with essential information on the mechanisms of this rare, yet aggressive form of disease in children and adolescents. This may lead to the development of early diagnostic tools and disease management for early tooth loss prevention.

The influence of periodontal treatment in diabetes control

With the collaboration of the Clinical Research Center at the CTSI, Dr. Michael Clare-Salzler, MD (UF Pathology), Shannon Wallet, PhD (Periodontology/Oral Biology) and Ikramuddin Aukhil, DDS, MS (Periodontology) and Dr. Catherine Edwards (UF Pathology). To date, we have treated over 40 patients with diabetes and periodontal disease, and developed a good collaboration with the GCRC that may enable us to further develop this project to apply for another NIH grant. We have initially obtained a UF seed grant to gather preliminary data on this project and we recently got approved for corporate funding for this project this fall. The results of this study will provide clinicians (both dentists and physicians) with essential knowledge on the mechanisms of interaction between local and systemic inflammation of these two important diseases, which may change the way we manage them today.

These two major projects have taken the vast majority of my research time. We have obtained a great amount of data so far, which has generated not only publications and funding applications, but also great opportunities for teaching and mentoring of several undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to those major clinical projects, I have collaborated with other investigators in developing research projects to better understand the effects of different drug therapies and tools to fight bacterial infections active during both periodontal disease and endodontic infections. These collaborations with Clay Walker, PhD (microbiologist, Oral Biology) and Roberta Pileggi, DMD, MS (Endodontics) have also resulted in abstracts and paper publications, as well as mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students. We have recently obtained a small contract grant to gather important preliminary data on the effectiveness of different tools to fight bacterial infections in dental canals.

Another recent collaboration is with Dr. Abi Adewumi, from the department of Dental Pediatrics, and Dr. David Weinstein, from the department of Pediatrics at Clinical Research Center, at Shands, on the Evaluation of Oral Health status and local and systemic inflammatory response on children with Glucose Storage Disorder (GSD).

I believe that the experience gained with clinical research, publications of results, the ability to develop a positive relationship with our study populations, with our research collaborators, our clinical partners at the various Departments of Health around the state, and with our students, research assistants and staff, are the ultimate driving forces behind a successful research program.