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First genomics conference brings dental professionals together

November 16, 2015

By Michelle Manchir

Learning: Dr. Srinivas Myneni, center, and Dr. Amarpreet Sabharwal, right, received scholarships from The Task Force on Design and Analysis in Oral Health Research to attend the conference.
Almost 100 genetics experts, dentists and dental researchers from across the country gathered Oct. 28-29 at the Association headquarters for a first-of-its-kind conference addressing genomic data as it relates to dentistry.

Dentists may have questions about the opportunity to engage in genetic testing purported to provide insight into a patient’s risk profile for common and complex conditions. The conference, Navigating the Sea of Genomic Data, was designed to provide a scientific and clinical framework to inform and assess the design and analysis of genomic studies of oral diseases, said Dr. Sebastian Ciancio, distinguished service professor and chair of the Department of Periodontics & Endodontics at the University of Buffalo and the executive director of the Task Force on Design and Analysis in Oral Health Research.

For Dr. Michael Glick, a conference co-organizer and editor of The Journal of the American Dental Association, the event, which he called one of the best at the ADA, raised more questions than it provided answers, a result he praised.

“What I heard is a lot of good information, a lot of knowledge, but it also left me with a lot of questions: where we need to go, our next step. That is the best type of conference,” said Dr. Glick, professor and William M. Feagans chair at the School of Dental Medicine, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

John Ioannidis, M.D., professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, provided the keynote address, discussing issues and limitations of the reproducibility of research in genomic health and the prospects of improving the reliability and utility of genomic information.

“Genomic medicine is here to stay,” Dr. Ioannidis said during his address. “I have no doubt about that. We will see more and more of this, but what we need to demonstrate is clinical efficacy, clinical effectiveness, integration into clinical care and also cost-effectiveness.”

Other speakers included conference co-organizer Dr. Thomas Hart, who is the director of the ADA Foundation Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center.

Expert panel: Teri Manolio, M.D., director of the division of genomic research at the National Human Genome Research Institute, discusses genome-wide association studies and their contribution to identifying genes for complex diseases. Dr. Thomas Hart, right, spoke about genomic testing in dentistry.
Dr. Hart, who has a Ph.D. in human genetics, addressed some of the issues clinicians must consider before using single nucleotide polymorphism-based genetic susceptibility tests and issues clinicians should consider before recommending their use.

“Consensus at the conference made clear these tests are not valid to predict common genetic diseases such as chronic periodontitis and caries,” Dr. Hart said after the conference.

Other speakers included leaders in genomic research from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and others in academia.

The ADA intends to summarize and publish conference sessions by early 2016 for members.

“The summary will provide the most current scientific foundation to develop sound guidance for clinicians, researchers and educators,” said conference co-organizer Dr. Dan Meyer, ADA chief science officer. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the ADA, The Task Force on Design and Analysis and all professional communities of interest to continue to work together to achieve mutually beneficial health outcomes for oral health providers and their patients.”

The Task Force on Design and Analysis in Oral Health Research, which funded the conference along with the ADA, provided seven post-graduate dental students scholarships to enable them to attend.
For more information about genomics, visit Genome.gov/education.