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2019 Sir John Walsh Research Institute Awards presented at SJWRI Research Day

Wednesday 11 September 2019 2:41pm

Congratulations to the recipients of Sir John Walsh Research Institute Awards for 2019, which were announced and awarded at the conclusion of SJWRI Research Day on Wednesday 11 September at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Our Institute Awards celebrate the research achievements of academic staff and postgraduate students, as well as commending the contribution of general staff to the research successes of the SJWRI and Faculty of Dentistry.

Strategic Research Prize

This award is to acknowledge and promote new research within the Faculty of Dentistry, by supporting a research development initiative by a member of staff or postgraduate student that could make a contribution to the strategic direction of research within the Institute. This year's recipient, Dr Joanne Choi, receives $5,000 towards her proposed research project, Development of a pulp blood flow and intraoral humidity simulating system, which will support the development of a novel laboratory model to investigate the effects on dental pulp of heat created by dental procedures.

Heat is generated and transferred to the dentine-pulp complex during various dental procedures such as, friction during cavity preparation or polishing procedures and exothermic reactions during the polymerisation of restorative materials with light curing units or lasers. Despite numerous studies stating the importance of heat increase and control during dental procedures, there is yet limited studies available where this has been measured. In vivo studies are not an option since it is unethical and impossible to measure the temperature in the vital pulp cavity. Previous studies have therefore incorporated an experimental set up where a thermocouple is placed inside the pulp of an extracted human tooth and connected to an electronic digital thermometer. This method has been found to be a reliable way to measure temperature change and is commonly employed for measuring heat transfer across tooth structures.

The applicant Dr Joanne Choi (PI) has been running several research projects using a customised set up employing the thermocouple method. The applicant is applying for the SJWRI strategic research prize to extend our current model and build an experimental set up which can simulate pulp blood flow and temperature using a variable speed peristaltic tubing pump and intraoral humidity chamber connected to a humidity generator. Our model has the potential to find new information that can give direct guidelines for clinical settings. Findings from a lab-based study simulating the intraoral environment can help clinicians to make better choices which will lead to better patient care, and can be used to evaluate various dental products, materials and dental procedures to give clear, scientifically proven guidelines for clinicians.

Research Supervisor Awards

Introduced in 2016, this award is to celebrate outstanding research supervisors of postgraduate and undergraduate students within the Faculty of Dentistry. Nominations are made via a survey process, whereby students are asked to anonymously nominate outstanding supervisors, with reasons for their nominations. Attributes such as being supportive, available, interested and enthusiastic, knowledgeable and an expert in their field, a good communicator, and taking prompt, decisive action to resolve issues were listed as being important for excellent supervision.

As in recent years, as a result of a very strong field of nominees this year’s award has been split into undergraduate and postgraduate research supervisor awards. The winners of each award receive $1,000 towards professional development.

Postgraduate Research Supervisor Award: Prof Karl Lyons

Prof Karl Lyons is Professor of Restorative Dentistry in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry. His research interests are in clinical and in vitro research in dental tooth whitening, dental implants, microbial adhesion to dental obturator prostheses as well as ceramics and other dental materials, including CADCAM and 3D printing. He is currently supervising five DClinDent projects and one PhD project.

Here are a selection of comments from postgraduate student nominations:

"Always there to support morally, even deadlines loomed… went the extra mile to give feedback that was appropriate and timely. … He is one of the people I respect and look up to. He is calm, supportive, available when I need him the most and most importantly encouraging. He always has positive attitude towards the student education, even while critiquing one’s work. It encourages me to be better with my clinical skills as well as interpersonal skills."

Undergraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Lee Adam

Dr Lee Adam is Lecturer, Education and Research in the Department of Oral Sciences. Her research concentrates on teaching and learning in higher education; specifically, how students' learning experiences and outcomes can be enhanced. She researches students' experiences in higher education, in order to gain insights into how policy and practices might be structured to encourage students' retention and success. Other research involves examining how we can improve teaching practices in higher education. She also coordinates the DENT552 final year undergraduate student elective programme.

Here are a selection of comments from undergraduate student nominations:

"There isn't a supervisor who better understands qualitative research than Lee. She has the ability to relate theory to practice and simplify concepts which are difficult to understand otherwise. She is very organised and always more than happy to accommodate meetings I need or presentations I give. She has a caring nature and is personable, helpful and friendly. This is attested to by everyone who knows her at the Faculty."

These awards indicate the appreciation, respect and regard in which Prof Lyons and Dr Adam are held by the students they supervise.

Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. To be eligible, the manuscript must have been accepted for publication between 1 January and 31 December 2018. The recipient, Christina Gee, will receive $1,000 towards professional development.

Christina is currently a PhD candidate in the SJWRI, supervised by Professor Warwick Duncan and A/Prof Dawn Coates in collaboration with UO Christchurch’s CReaTE Group. Her award-winning article "Influence of ageing on glass and resin bonding of dental glass-ceramic veneer adhesion to zirconia: A fracture mechanics analysis and interpretation" was based on research carried out as an Assistant Research Fellow prior to beginning her PhD. Christina conducted the experiments and data analysis and assisted with the write up of the draft manuscript. This paper uses a novel approach to investigate the role of ageing or environmental degradation on the adhesive bonding of two dental ceramics to zirconia. This continues to be a major problem in clinic, but approaches till now have relied upon a myriad of strength-based tests to quantify the extent of environmental degradation with time. In this paper the investigators use two fracture mechanics approaches, based upon simple 3- and 4-point bend testing procedures that enable stable debonding crack extension to occur. The paper provides a more critical approach to evaluate the role of environmental degradation of adhesion for dental materials. The paper was submitted to Acta Biomaterialia (impact factor 6.72) on February 2018 and accepted in April 2018. Acta Biomaterialia is ranked 7th out of 346 journals in the subject area of Dentistry and Biomaterials, and is the highest ranked journal for dental materials research.

MV Swain, C Gee, KC Li (2018) Influence of ageing on glass and resin bonding of dental glass-ceramic veneer adhesion to zirconia: A fracture mechanics analysis and interpretation. Acta Biomateralia 74, 454-463. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2018.04.049

Postgraduate Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in postgraduate student research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. The publication must have been accepted between 1 January and 31 December 2018, and have been written by a Masters or Doctoral research student. The recipient, Dr Ghassan Idris, receives $500.

Ghassan is currently carrying out a DClinDent in the Faculty of Dentistry under the supervision of Prof Mauro Farella, having previously completed a PhD with the same research group. His article titled "Mandibular advancement appliances for sleep-disordered breathing in children: A randomized crossover clinical trial" reported the main findings of his PhD research, and was published in the Journal of Dentistry in January 2018. The Journal of Dentistry has an impact factor of 4.152 over the last five years and 3.280 in the year of publication (2018). Ghassan was the main investigator in the study and the first author of the publication. This research consisted of a clinical trial examining the short-term effectiveness of a mandibular advancement splint for the management of sleep-disordered breathing in children, and found that wearing an Active MAS overnight over a short period could be beneficial for SDB children. The findings of this study were of interest of wide audience groups; orthodontists, general dentists, ENT specialists, and sleep specialists. This study was the first randomised clinical trial to test the use of mandibular advancement splints as a treatment of sleep apnoea in children and provided an evidence about the efficacy of this modality as an alternative to the surgery which is the first line treatment of sleep apnoea in children.

G Idris, B Galland, CJ Robertson, A Gray, M Farella (2018) Mandibular advancement appliances for sleep-disordered breathing in children: A randomized crossover clinical trial. Journal of Dentistry 71, 9–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2018.04.049.

Research Support Award

This award is to recognise excellent support provided by general, professional and technical staff to research groups, units and/or departments within the Faculty of Dentistry. The recipient will receive up to $2,000 for conference travel. The recipient, SJWRI Research Manager Dr James Smith, will receive $1,600 towards professional development.

Here is an excerpt from his nomination for the award, submitted by SJWRI Director Prof Richard Cannon:

Dr Smith has provided outstanding support for a range of research staff and students across the SJWRI Research Programmes for the last six years. This support has included helping people with grant writing, managing contracts and keeping people informed of grant expenditure. He has shown particular support for the establishment and continuation of the Practice Based Research Network ARCH. He has produced very high quality Research Reports for the SJWRI and has gone above and beyond the call of duty in organising and staffing booths for NZDA and IADR conferences.

Dr Smith’s award was used to support his attendance at the Queenstown Research Week (QRW) Tissue Engineering/Regenerative Medicine satellite meetings in September 2019.

Congratulations to all recipients of SJWRI Awards for 2019.