Ophir Klein Awarded $8M NIDCR Grant for Dental Stem Cell Research

By Nina Bai

Ophir Klein, MD, PhD, has been awarded one of two inaugural grants from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) that are meant to encourage long-term ambitious and innovative research.

portrait of Ophir Klein
Ophir Klein, MD, PhD

Klein, chair of the Division of Craniofacial Anomalies at UC San Francisco and the Charles J. Epstein Endowed Chair in Human Genetics, received one of two new Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) awards from the NIDCR of the National Institutes of Health. The grant is to support his research on the regenerative properties of craniofacial and dental stem cells.

The new SOAR awards aim to provide longer-term support to experienced NIDCR-funded investigators with outstanding records of research productivity entering their mid-career stage. Klein’s SOAR award will total $8.24 million over eight years, with $650,000 allocated for the initial year of the grant.

Klein’s lab studies how organs form in the embryo and how they renew and regenerate in the adult. Their work focuses on understanding how development and regeneration normally occur in the hope of one day treating diseases that result from abnormalities in these processes. 

The SOAR award will fund Klein’s basic science investigations of how dental stem cells allow continual regeneration of teeth in some mammals, such as rodents. They will look at how these adult dental stem cells behave, how they evolved and how they arise in embryonic development. By understanding how adult stem cells enable organ renewal, Klein’s lab hopes to lay the foundation for regenerative approaches in humans.

The SOAR award is designed to provide sustained and flexible support to encourage ambitious and innovative research with potential for improving dental, oral and craniofacial health.

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