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New ADA Science & Research Institute position focuses on real-world applications of research

Dr. Kevin Byrd joins Department of Innovation & Technology Research as Volpe Research Scholar

October 28, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

The American Dental Association Science & Research Institute has added a grant-funded position to help translate its research into clinical applications.

Photo of Kevin Byrd, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Dr. Byrd
Kevin Byrd, D.D.S., Ph.D., joined the ADASRI's Department of Innovation & Technology Research in early October as the Anthony R. Volpe Research Scholar, a role primarily supported by a five-year grant from Colgate-Palmolive, and manager of oral and craniofacial research.

Anthony R. Volpe, D.D.S., who retired as Colgate’s vice president of scientific affairs in 2013 and evaluated the clinical efficacy of the company's toothpastes during his 52-year career, died Oct. 8. Dr. Volpe had served as chair of the ADA Foundation Board of Directors, and in 2014, the Volpe Research Center was dedicated in his honor.

Dr. Byrd is a clinician-scientist who completed his dental degree at the University of Michigan in 2013 and doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry in 2018. In his new position, Dr. Byrd will lead original research with a focus on emerging areas of priority that can be translated into technologies that benefit the dental industry.

Dr. Byrd previously was a member of the research faculty in the Adams School of Dentistry's Division of Oral and Craniofacial Health Sciences. His research has focused on understanding oral stem cell heterogeneity and how cells' extrinsic and intrinsic regulation contributes to wound healing and head and neck cancers. He has expanded his scope recently through active collaborations across the world to apply advanced technologies to catalog oral and oropharyngeal tissues at single-cell resolution, leading to his appointment as the coordinator for the new Human Cell Atlas Oral & Craniofacial Biological Network.

"I was overjoyed to learn that I would be joining the ADA Science & Research Institute as their first Volpe Research Scholar. It is an honor to be working alongside so many brilliant and talented colleagues," said Dr. Byrd, whose previous involvement with the ADA has included serving as an ADA Success speaker and a consultant to the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. "I have been working to build and analyze single-cell maps of the oral tissues and am looking forward to continuing and expanding that work in my new role. I invite anyone to approach me with ideas for innovation, and I am looking forward to contributing to the team through creativity and collaboration."

With the ADASRI, Dr. Byrd is interested in continuing to explore technologies to model and improve oral wound healing and soft tissue grafting, to better understand the connection of the oral cavity to systemic disease, and to discover the unique and undiscovered cell types among oral and craniofacial tissues across the lifespan.

The ADASRI is a recognized leader in oral health sciences, research and technological innovation. The primary goal of the institute is to be a "research center of excellence" that advances dentistry, improves oral health and provides an evidence base for use by health care professionals, the public, policymakers and professional organizations.

The Department of Innovation & Technology Research, based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, focuses on early product development that has the potential for significant clinical impact and public benefit. Department scientists work to further emerging technologies and translate discoveries into real-world impacts.

To learn more about the ADASRI, visit ADA.org/SRI.