Dr. Byrd, the ADASRI's Anthony R. Volpe Research Scholar and manager of oral and craniofacial research, earned first place in the basic science category of the academy's 2020 Balint Orban Memorial Competition, which is open to periodontal students and recent graduates. His award-winning research into the diverse cellular populations that make up the periodontal pocket in inflammation resulted in the mapping of the first human gingival "atlas."
Dr. Byrd also won the 2020 Dr. James T. Mellonig Regeneration Research Award from the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation.
The award recognizes excellence in original research by a resident in the specialty of periodontics that advances clinical therapies in periodontal regeneration. Dr. Byrd's research article, "Heterogeneity within Stratified Epithelial Stem Cell Populations Maintains the Oral Mucosa in Response to Physiological Stress," published in December 2019 in Cell Stem Cell, discovered a unique population of stem cells in the roof of the mouth that quickly respond to stress from chewing and injury.
"I was surprised and grateful to find out that I was being awarded two awards at this year's American Academy of Periodontology annual meeting — one from the AAP Foundation and the other from the AAP. These awards find me at a transition point from trainee to principal investigator," said Dr. Byrd, who completed his doctorate and was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry. "No matter my stage of training, both of these projects were accomplished with an amazing team of researchers at the University of North Carolina and beyond. Having the opportunity to work alongside these brilliant and enthusiastic colleagues has been one of the great privileges of my young career."