AADR supports American Heart Association’s recommendation to reduce added sugars in diets of children

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released a scientific statement entitled, “Added Sugars and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Children,” in which the authors conducted a literature review of original research and systematic studies on the relationship between added sugar and risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in children and adolescents. From their research, AHA recommends the reduction of added sugar in the diets of children and adolescents. The statement comes just a year after the World Health Organization recommended that sugar intake should be less than 10% of the daily caloric intake of adults and children and that intakes less than 5% would reduce the incidence of noncommunicable diseases, specifically mentioning the reduction of dental caries as a health benefit of these guidelines.

The AHA scientific review analyzed the impact of sugar added to both food and beverages on CVD risk factors but paid special attention to the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) because these drinks contribute a significant number of calories to the American diet. AHA conservatively estimates that children between the ages of 2 and 19 consume 80 grams of sugar per day. The review found that added sugars increase risk factors – obesity, blood pressure, and cholesterol for all children and insulin-resistance in overweight children – for CVDs.

To reduce the risk for CVDs, AHA recommends that children and adolescents consume no more than 8 ounces of SSBs and no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day and that caretakers avoid added sugar in the diets of children under 2-years-old.

AADR released a statement applauding AHA’s scientific statement and recommendations to limit added sugar consumption by children. AADR is committed to helping AHA implement these recommendations. Although the statement only briefly mentions dental caries, these recommendations will be effective in reducing dental caries and early childhood caries as well as CVDs.

NIDCR Seeks Comments on FY18 Research Themes

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is seeking public input on their proposed research initiatives for fiscal year (FY) 2018.  These themes are used during the annual budget development and in communication with NIH, the Department of HHS and Congress about future research goals.  The proposed research themes include the following:

  • Immunotherapy Strategies to Target Head and Neck Cancers
  • Implementation Science and Oral Health
  • Mechanisms of Oral HIV Vaccine-induced Immunity
  • Role of the Nervous System in Craniofacial Bones
  • Role of the Oral Microbiome in Oral HIV Pathogenesis, Vaccines and Host Immunity

How can you provide input? AADR members are strongly encouraged to provide feedback and input. You can either submit individual comments to NIDCR directly at  FY2018Comments@mail.nih.gov by Friday, September 9, 2016 or send them to Carolyn Mullen cmullen@aadr.org by August 22, 2016 to include as part of AADR and FNIDCR’s comments on the research themes.

NIDCR Director’s Dear Colleague Letter
Dear Colleagues:

As part of the budget planning process for Fiscal Year 2018, NIDCR is identifying topical themes for development into research initiatives. During this process, we welcome input from our scientific advisory boards, the extramural community, interested organizations, and the public at large.

What are Initiatives? Initiatives are a vehicle used by the Institutes and Centers to communicate future research goals to NIH, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress. NIDCR begins the initiative development process each year by identifying broad research topic areas, or themes. We then develop a specific initiative proposal for each theme, taking into consideration the input received. Themes identified for FY 2018 are listed below.

Please remember that initiatives are not a complete picture of the Institute’s planned research portfolio for the year indicated, nor do they signal that themes highlighted the previous year have been abandoned. Several initiatives from last year have become formal funding opportunities and are posted on NIDCR’s website. Others are still under development. Proposed FY 2018 Initiatives will be integrated into this larger landscape as they are considered for funding.

How can you provide input? Please send your comments and suggestions related to these specific theme areas directly to us at FY2018Comments@mail.nih.gov. If you want to suggest additional topic areas, or comment on the process for developing research initiatives, please send those suggestions to the same email address. Please submit all comments no later than Friday, September 9, 2016.

Thank you for your interest and input. I look forward to hearing from you.


Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Proposed NIDCR FY 2018 Research Themes (alphabetical by title)

Immunotherapy Strategies to Target Head and Neck Cancers Nearly 49,000 new cases of Head and Neck Cancers (HNCs) are diagnosed each year in the U.S.  The 5-year survival rate for individuals with HNC is relatively low at approximately 50% and has improved only marginally during the past few decades. The impact of current chemotherapies on HNC is limited by resistance to therapy, disease recurrence, and damage to normal cells and tissues. Furthermore, current treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy often lead to side effects that reduce the quality of life for HNC patients. Immunotherapy is a targeted treatment approach that uses a person’s own immune system to fight cancer by mobilizing immune cells to specifically identify and eliminate cancer cells. However, cancer cells are adept at escaping the surveillance of the immune system and new approaches are required to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies. One approach to improving the immune cell response is to inhibit the proteins that normally inactivate immune cells, a process called immune checkpoint inhibitor blockade. Advances in genomics and high throughput screening methods have opened the door to identifying molecular abnormalities (e.g. genetic changes) and aberrant signaling pathways specific to cancer cells. Some of these genetic changes in cancer cells can trigger the immune system to kill or clear the cancer cells. These technical advances have created opportunities for identifying HNC cell specific antigens, called neoantigens, that can then be used to develop targeted therapies that are less likely to kill or damage normal cells in the body. The primary goal of this initiative is to encourage basic and preclinical studies to identify and test HNC associated neoantigens as potential immunotherapy targets, alone or in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitor blockade that can then be used as effective therapeutic agents in the treatment of HNCs.

Implementation Science and Oral Health Implementation science is focused on identifying, understanding, and overcoming barriers to the adoption of evidence-based interventions in patient care. The lag time between evidence from research and adoption into practice is related to many factors, such as low demand, desire of patients and/or practitioners to continue old interventions, and lack of infrastructure to adopt the new intervention. The goal of this initiative is to encourage studies aimed at reducing the time between establishment of the evidence-base for interventions and their widespread uptake and adoption. Another element of this initiative is understanding the need to reduce the use of strategies and procedures that are no longer supported by the evidence, are potentially harmful, or have been prematurely widely adopted. Advances in implementation science have been made in other fields such as treatments for cancer and substance abuse; there is an opportunity to address the unique aspects of dentistry in this science field. This initiative will develop implementation strategies tailored for use in dental care and oral health settings.

Mechanisms of Oral HIV Vaccine-induced Immunity HIV/AIDS remains a major global public health problem. Approximately 50,000 new infections were diagnosed in the United States in 2014 and two million new infections worldwide. One of the highest priority areas in HIV prevention is the development of safe and effective oral prophylactic vaccines that protect against HIV acquisition. Despite recent advances, a protective HIV vaccine has yet to be developed. Multiple research gaps exist, including our limited knowledge of how immune cells produce protective anti-HIV antibodies after oral vaccination. This initiative encourages basic, translational, and pre-clinical research to 1) identify the genetic and immune mechanisms that regulate oral immune cell maturation to produce protective anti-HIV antibodies; 2) study the interactions between oral innate and cellular immunity that enhance the production of anti-HIV neutralizing antibodies; 3) study the biological function of these anti-HIV antibodies; and 4) test new oral prophylactic HIV vaccine candidates and strategies designed to trigger protective and long lasting immunity. These critical areas of research will be key to the development of safe and effective oral HIV vaccines to protect against the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Role of the Nervous System in Craniofacial Bones In adults, bone tissue is constantly broken down and rebuilt during the process of homeostasis. The nervous system controls this process via longer range hormonal regulation and local innervation of the bone microenvironment. The nervous system is known to play a key role in the development and regeneration of craniofacial bone; however it is not clear how the nervous system functions in fully developed (adult) craniofacial bones in both health and disease. The goal of this initiative is to encourage research on the interactions between the nervous system and the dental and craniofacial skeletal complex. Understanding the nervous system’s role in the maintenance of mature craniofacial bone, will bolster efforts in regeneration and repair of the dental and craniofacial skeleton. Knowledge about the craniofacial neuroskeletal relationship could also lead to effective and targeted approaches to treat bone loss from periodontal disease or osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Role of the Oral Microbiome in Oral HIV Pathogenesis, Vaccines, and Host Immunity The oral microbiome is a dynamic community of self-maintained microorganisms that are essential to preserve human oral and systemic health. Microbiomes are found throughout the body, including the gut and oral cavity. The gut microbiome has been linked to changes in HIV pathogenesis and host immunity. The oral microbiome is also implicated in changes in HIV pathogenesis and host immunity, however, these processes are not as well understood. The goal of this initiative is to encourage basic and translational research on the role of the oral microbiome in oral HIV pathogenesis, oral immunity, and oral prophylactic HIV vaccine efficacy. Additional research in these areas will help identify new preventive and therapeutic strategies for modulating the oral microbiome to decrease HIV pathogenesis and improve oral vaccine efficacy and immunity to HIV.


Six Weeks in Washington, DC: Update by the Gert Quigley Fellow

By KyuLim Lee, AADR Gert Quigley Fellow 2016-2017

KyuLim Lee at the US CapitolAs a DMD/PhD student in-training, I have always enjoyed attending AADR meetings, because it is an opportunity to not only share my passion for science but also meet new faces and reconnect with old ones. While in the past meetings I have always been eager to learn and attend sessions discussing topics surrounding my comfort zone, the 2016 AADR meeting in Los Angeles, CA was special in that I stumbled upon a Hands-On Workshop hosted by the National Student Research Group (NSRG) titled, “Advocacy: Your Future Depends On It.” During this workshop, the importance of advocating for research and research funding was introduced to me, as well as the exciting fact that students like us can make a big impact. The AADR Gert Quigley Fellowship was unique in that it would provide a student with a hands-on opportunity to learn the ins and outs of advocacy and science policy.

As the 2016-2017 AADR Gert Quigley Fellow, I spent these past 6 weeks in Washington, DC being exposed to all arenas of science policy and advocacy, learning about the legislative processes involved in research funding. From attending appropriation bill mark ups to briefings that discussed recent “national topics” such as Zika and e-cigarettes, I realized that policy and science cannot be separated. Scientific evidence is constantly incorporated during different stages of policy development, which in turn affects decisions such as funding priorities, as well as the allocation of nation’s research dollars. As a Fellow, I witnessed the advocacy efforts flourish into reality. Both the House and Senate bills proposed significant increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) funding for fiscal year (FY)17 as a result of AADR and other members’ efforts.  Because it is election year, we are not quite sure what will happen, but a short term continuing resolution (CR) is expected to fund federal government through November. While Congress is in recess currently, we continued on with our advocacy efforts and attended coalition meetings to brainstorm and propose strategies to help push Congress to enact legislation that will provide the highest possible funding level for NIH and NIDCR.

KyuLim Lee at NIDCRMy research experience has taught me an important aspect of research: a cure for a disease is not discovered overnight. They result from years of incremental research, which is only possible through continuous funding. Educating the members of Congress and their staff about dental research funded through the NIDCR at the Coalition for Health Funding Public Health Fair, I learned first-hand how excited the members are to hear about the ongoing work in our dental community and the value of dental research to our profession. More importantly, opportunities like this served as a chance to inform Congress on why continuous funding is essential to our scientific field.

Basic science research is my passion and looking into the micro-molecular level of a certain pathway or disease is so intriguing. Attending meetings on Capitol Hill and learning about the intricate role Congress plays in providing funding, I realized it’s important for researchers to look at science in a macro-level as well, staying engaged in policy issues and advocacy. Scientists are passionate about their research and see the importance of presenting the data from their research projects, whether that’d be in a lab meeting or a research conference. To me, this is exactly how advocacy works. But on a larger scale. And instead of science being presented to lab members, we can present it to Congress, to show them how important our research is, and to help them understand the value of their work and how that impacts us at home. There are various facets one can partake to start advocating. This includes something as simple as responding to action alert emails or as involved as sending letters of support or scheduling a meeting with their members of Congress.

I look forward to continuing my work as the Gert Quigley Fellow this year as an active member of the AADR Government Affairs Committee and National Student Research Group. If you want to learn more about the Gert Quigley Fellowship and/or become more involved with AADR advocacy please contact Carolyn Mullen, director of government affairs at cmullen@iadr.org.