Noted Salivary Researcher Joins University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry

Dentistry Today
Photo: Paul Mayne

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Photo: Paul Mayne

Walter Siqueira, DDS, PhD, has joined the University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry. According to the school, his research into saliva and salivary components provides a wealth of information about how our bodies work and can be used in the detection, prognosis, and treatment of oral and systemic diseases. He also is one of the first and only dental clinician-scientists in Canada conducting salivary proteome research. 

“This research is important and exciting,” said Siqueira. “We have been using saliva to look at oral health, but now we’re taking a step further and using it to look at the overall, systemic health of individuals. By doing so, we are changing the way diagnostics will look. We are providing a noninvasive, simpler method to provide individuals with a diagnosis and prognosis.”

Siqueira leads the Salivary Proteomics Research Laboratory. His research recently led to the identification of a specific protein signature for the Zika virus, increasing the detection period for the disease from four days to more than 20.

As professor and acting associate dean, Graduate Studies and Internationalization in the College of Dentistry, Siqueira’s research at the university will continue to explore how saliva can be the root cause of many diseases. Already, he has developed a nanoparticle method that protects salivary proteins from degradation and subsequently prevents oral diseases. He also is heavily involved in the identification of salivary biomarkers for noninvasive, early and easy diagnosis of global diseases, the university reports. 

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Siqueira to the College of Dentistry at USask,” said Doug Brothwell, DMD, dean of the College of Dentistry. “His arrival at the college will expand our research capacity in new and exciting ways. We look forward to supporting Dr. Siqueira in his research initiatives and having such a world-renowned researcher and professor to teach and support our students.” 

Siqueira’s research program is unique in Canada, the university says, and one of only a few in the world in the area of applied salivary research. He continues to explore the role that saliva can play in systemic health, and he is one of the principal investigators for the Interdisciplinary Canadian Collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Research Network, which just received a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). His group will use saliva to identify biomarkers for myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), or chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as the creation of a saliva biobank of ME.

“The College of Dentistry at USask is a wonderful place to be, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Siqueira. “Research and teaching are my passion, and I’m excited to continue preparing the next generation of dentists and oral health researchers here at the college.”

In addition to the $1.4 million grant from the CIHR awarded in 2019, Siqueira has two other CIHR operating grants. These projects are investigating new ways to prevent and treat cavities by using salivary protein and peptides. In addition to his research and teaching, Siqueira started his term as president of the Canadian Association for Dental Research, focused on the next generation of oral health research in Canada.

Siqueira has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers. He also is the recipient of the W.W. Wood Award for Excellence in Dental Education by the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry, the 2012 Salivary Research of the Year Award from the Salivary Research Group, International Association for Dental Research (IADR), and the 2019 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award, the most prestigious international award in oral health science, the university says.

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