Apichai Yavirach, DDS, a PhD candidate in the University of Washington (UW) Department of Oral Health Sciences, has been named the School of Dentistry’s 2021-22 Magnuson Scholar selectee. He is one of the six UW Health Sciences recipients of the scholarship, which is one of the university’s top academic awards.
Yavirach received his DDS degree from Chiang Mai University in Thailand in 2015. After that, he entered the university’s prosthodontics program. At UW, he has worked in the lab of Dr. Cecilia Giachelli of the Department of Bioengineering, studying bone biology and calcification.
“As a dentist, I’m interested in applying basic sciences research to clinical aspects. Therefore, I have been working on the particular disease called medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ),” Yavirach said.
“This is a serious side effect of antiresorptive drugs prescribed to more than 10 million patients all around the world. However, the pathophysiology of MRONJ still remains elusive and there is currently no effective treatment, making this a growing clinical problem,” he said.
“With the engineering cells developed in our lab, I am able to study particular types of cells potentially playing a role in MRONJ. I strongly believe that these studies will give more insights to one of the biggest concerning questions in a dental field,” Yavirach said.
Yavirach, who was a Fulbright Scholar in 2017-2019, won the American Association for Dental Research Student Award at the UW School of Dentistry’s annual Research Day last year and also holds a scholarship in geriatric sciences for dental care from the Thai government.
After he obtains his PhD, Yavirach plans to return to Thailand and resume teaching at Chiang Mai University. He also plans to continue working as a clinician while pursuing further studies on bone biology.
“I believe in the power of education,” he said. “It can bring people from different backgrounds together. It can translate what we learn from a lab bench to a global scale. Being a Magnuson Scholar supports my believe that together we can move our health sciences field forward.”
The scholarship, which commemorates US Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, is funded from a $2 million endowment from the Warren G. Magnuson Institute for Biomedical Research and Health Professions Training.
The late Magnuson was a strong supporter of biomedical research and played key roles in creating Medicare, Medicaid, and the National Institutes of Health, UW said. Scholarship recipients are chosen for their academic performance and potential contributions to research in the health sciences.
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