Oral biology encompasses the study of the structure and function of normal and abnormal tissues of the oral cavity and related areas, as well as the study of disease and healing mechanisms related to various oral conditions. We apply and extend the concepts of biology and medicine toward understanding the growth and development and pathologies associated with the oral cavity, as well as in broad multi-disciplinary areas such as dynamics of disease as well as the prevention and treatment at the earliest stages of development, including research on risk factors for disease as well as the cellular and molecular events in disease pathogenesis. Our curriculum is highly translational in nature; we strive to combine basic laboratory discovery in immunology, embryology, physiology, cellular and molecular biology, neurobiology, tissue engineering and regeneration, pharmacology, microbiology, and biochemistry with oral diseases and disorders to provide a better understanding and treatment of the pathologies associated with the craniofacial region.
Oral Biology Training Areas
The UNC Oral Biology Ph.D. Program has three primary areas of emphasis:
· Biology of Extracellular Matrices and Skeletal Growth
· Host-Pathogen Interactions
· Sensory Neurobiology
These areas represent the central concepts for study at advanced levels in the discipline of oral biology. Expertise and authority in these particular concepts are well-represented within the strongest research and training qualifications of program faculty. Curricular requirements are based on training areas, with common core requirements for all students.
A minimum of 8 courses are required, including core courses OBIO 730,731, 732, 770, 771, and 780; and participation in OBIO 710/711 are required. Basic proficiency in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology are required, but programmatically determined by academic background. Several advanced electives are track specific that have prerequisites and are usually taken after the first year.
Courses may be taken throughout the graduate curriculum. Faculty will work with you to tailor your course selections to meet your individual interests.
Written Exam:Our departmental qualifying exam format is a research proposal patterned in the format of an R01 NIH grant proposal. Specific guidelines are discussed in detail when the students meet as a group with the Prelim Exam Advisor during the spring semester. The exam is understood to be an expression of each student's independent ability to formulate an experimental approach and adequately express it on paper. The exam is given one time/year and graded as pass/fail by a committee consisting of all primary and secondary reviewers of all proposals that year from OBIO students, and is given immediately following the end of the second year with 8 weeks given to complete the document.
Oral Examination: The oral candidacy exam is given as soon as possible but not later than 3 months after receiving notification of passage of the written exam. The oral exam centers on the topic of the written prelim as well as basic concepts in oral biology and in your chosen field of study.
Dissertation Research: Students choose a Research Topic and Dissertation committee by the end of their second year. Your dissertation committee must consist of at least five persons: the dissertation advisor and at least 4 members of the Graduate faculty, 2 of which must have a primary appointment with the Oral Biology Curriculum. Each student should have developed a dissertation research project with his or her research advisor during year 3. The proposed dissertation project must then be approved by your dissertation research committee by the end of year 3, or by no later than year 4, depending on the progress of the student’s research and the decision of the committee. . You must meet with your dissertation committee at least once every year to present your research and review your progress on your dissertation research project. This meeting is usually held in conjunction with the annual Student Seminar.
Seminar Requirements: ALL students are expected to:
· Attend the student Research in Progress seminars.
· Participate in a journal club in their chosen field of study.
· Participate in annual discussions on scientific ethics.
Each year, every student must present a seminar in the student Research in Progress seminar series. First year students present on one of their rotation projects, second year and beyond on their current dissertation project in their research lab. Student will be assigned based on their seniority in the program, with the more senior students presenting in the fall, and the junior student in the spring. These presentations are meant to be formal presentations (45-50 minute duration), using electronic presentations in which the student describes the goals and progress of his or her current research.
Students must also participate in a journal club in their training track, either Host-Pathogen Interactions, Extracellular Matrices, or Sensory Neuroscience, each year of their program.
Publication Requirement: Before graduation, students must have carried out sufficient research for at least one first-author publication in a high-quality refereed journal, either published or submitted for publication.