Dr. Justin Kaspar, an Assistant Professor in the Division of Biosciences, was recently awarded an R03 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Designed for research projects that can be conducted in a short period of time, the R03 grant is for $315,000 that will be distributed over two years.
Those funds will support Dr. Kaspar’s investigation of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium that is commonly found in the human mouth. It is a primary driver of dental caries through its production of organic acids as it consumes dietary sugars that demineralize tooth enamel. The grant also provides funding to test various new species – including Streptococcus species that are associated with tooth decay and oral non-Streptococcus species.
Commenting on the research project, Dr. Kaspar said, “Ideally, we'd like to find a handful of genes to target with potential future therapeutics that would selectively remove Streptococcus mutans from the microbiome while keeping the normal, healthy, and protective microbiome intact. This would give us a way to either treat and/or prevent the formation of tooth decay.”