Fulbright Scholar Developing Dental Materials at Oklahoma University

Dentistry Today


Fulbright Award winner Matheus Kury Rodrigues, DDS, MS, is investigating nanofilled tooth-bleaching agents in developing novel dental materials that do not compromise tooth structure at the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Dentistry.

Rodrigues is one of only 26 PhD candidates from Brazil granted a Fulbright Award to study in the United States in 2020.

“The Division of Dental Biomaterials is very proud to have such a strong collaboration with the Department of Dental Materials from the State University of Campinas School of Dentistry at Piracicaba, Brazil,” said assistant professor Fernando Esteban Florez, DDS, MS, PhD.

“During his visit, Dr. Kury will be working on the synthesis, characterization, and testing of experimental dental bleaching agents containing bioactive metal-oxide nanoparticles developed by [OU College of Dentistry associate dean for research and innovation] Dr. Sharukh Khajotia and myself,” Florez said.

“We are very happy to have Dr. Kury working with us. He is a brilliant young investigator, and we are confident that his work will be perceived as a very strong and meaningful contribution to the field of dental biomaterials,” Florez said.

Kury began his nine-month program as a visiting scholar research in the College of Dentistry’s Division of Dental Biomaterials in March 2021. Under Florez’ direction, he is researching the fabrication of nanobleaching agents to whiten teeth.

Working with Florez and others in the division, OU said, Kury is gaining experience working in advanced microscope techniques and high-throughput bioluminescence assays.

A native or Porto Alegre in Brazil, Kury earned his DDS from the Rio Grande do Sul Federal University in 2016. He earned his master’s degree in dental clinics, with an emphasis in operative dentistry, from the State University of Campinas Piracicaba Dental School (UNICAMP) in Brazil in 2019.

While pursuing his doctorate, Kury received a Science Without Borders scholarship from the Brazilian government to study at the University of Sydney for a year and a half. He practiced as a dentist for almost a year before deciding to pursue his doctoral degree at UNICAMP in 2019. He first visited the OU College of Dentistry also in 2019.

“The outstanding and unique set of expertise, laboratory facilities, and equipment offered at the Dental Biomaterials Division was one of the main factors that aroused my interest in coming here,” Kury said.

“Working with Dr. Esteban Florez as my mentor at OU became a very exciting plan because he could offer me the necessary support and guidance to catapult my research skills toward an independent research career,” he continued.

“The extraordinary work that Drs. Esteban Florez and Khajotia have been performing on the development and incorporation of nanoparticles in dental biomaterials, as well as on the development and validation of novel microbiology assays, are paramount for the successful completion of my PhD dissertation,” he said.

Immediately after his return from his initial visit to the OU College of Dentistry, Kury began working on the highly competitive application process to apply for the Fulbright Program, OU said.

“I am very grateful for the reception I have received from all the professors, staff, and students. As increasing the mutual understanding between the US and other countries is one of the main missions of the Fulbright Program, I am very happy to share all the things I’ve learned in Brazil with the OUHSC community and vice versa,” Kury said.

“Since Fulbrighters are expected to engage with public health-related issues that require innovation, creativity, and knowledge, there is no doubt that this is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and that I found at OU, which is a remarkable place to fulfill my goals,” he said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored through the United States government, OU said. It provides participants, chosen for academic merit and leadership potential, the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns.

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