The International Association for Dental Research honored Aurea Simon-Soro, DMD, MSc, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine with its 2019 Women in Science Award for Distinguished Research. The award recognizes the first or senior author of a study published in the previous year reflecting excellence in oral, dental, or craniofacial research.
Simon-Soro was noted for her paper, “Combined Analysis of the Salivary Microbiome and Host Defence Peptides Predicts Dental Disease,” published by Scientific Reports. A postdoctoral researcher at Penn Dental, she is focused on the community ecology of the oral microbiome and its relation with the host in order to understand the balance of microorganisms that cohabit in the buccal environment and its impact on human health.
“Understanding the triad of host response, microbiome, and disease status is potentially informative for disease prediction, prevention, early intervention, and treatment,” Simon-Soro said.
Using longitudinal assessment of saliva and disease status in children at the age of four and again a year later, the study demonstrated that isolated evaluation of the salivary microbiome or host response failed to predict dental disease. In contrast, combined assessment of both host response together with the microbiome revealed clusters of health and disease.
“This type of approach is potentially relevant to myriad diseases that are modified by host-microbiome interactions,” said Simon-Soro.
Simon-Soro is now working in the research lab of Hyun (Michel) Koo, DDS, MS, PhD, professor with the Department of Orthodontics and Divisions of Community Oral Health and Pediatric Dentistry, where she is applying her skills in bioinformatics, microbiome analysis, and biofilm imaging. She is researching the interaction of oral fungi and bacteria in saliva related to environmental factors such as sugar intake and how it affects the development of virulent dental plaque in early childhood caries.
Simon-Soro received the award during the IADR/AADR/CADR General Session & Exhibition, held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in June.