CANDIDATE: Devatha P. Nair, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and a materials science researcher in the School
of Dental Medicine at the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Nair’s K25 application proposes
to engineer a photo-responsive coating that can enable ‘on-demand’ oral biofilm removal from the surface of a
composite restorative material while maintaining the aesthetic and functional aspects of the underlying material.
Her immediate goal is to acquire the research training and professional skills necessary to transition to an
independent investigator. Her long-term goal is to develop an independent, extramurally funded research
program by becoming a successful, effective tenure-track faculty who can fully engage with dental students and
residents through teaching and research activities in the field of dental biomaterials.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT PLAN: Dr. Nair’s career development training consists of: 1) acquiring new
experimental skills and approaches to strengthen her research plan. 2) further training in culturing, analyzing
and imaging oral biofilms in a variety of static and flow-through reactors. 3) refinement of professional skills
development including formal course work, attendance and presentations at weekly journal clubs, university
seminars, national scientific meetings, as well as regular meetings with Dental Biomaterials Journal club
(weekly); Dept. of Immunology and Microbiology seminar series (Friday Seminar Series-weekly);and 4) through
regular interactions with her mentoring team.
ENVIRONMENT: The environment for Dr. Nair’s training plan will be outstanding. The principal mentor, Dr.
Jeffrey Stansbury is an internationally recognized NIH-funded scientist. Along with co-mentor Dr. Schurr and
secondary mentors, Drs. Pfeifer and Zajdowicz and consulting mentor Dr. Jack Ferracane, a strong, inter-
disciplinary mentoring team in biomedical research has been assembled. Additionally, regular input from experts
such as Dr. Michael Franklin (Center for Biofilm Engineering -Montana State University) and Dr. Noel Clark
(Director, Soft Matter Materials Research Center at UC-Boulder) will ensure that Dr. Nair will have access to
specific expertise in key areas of her research project and overall training plan.
RESEARCH: There is a growing need to develop strategies to both understand and disrupt the growth and
retention of dental biofilms that can cause secondary caries and a host of systemic diseases such as aspiration
pneumonia, cardiovascular disease and complications during pregnancy. This proposal aims to develop
strategies to combat biofilm growth and to prevent the progression of dental caries. Working on the premise that
a long-term and effective solution towards the removal of oral biofilms relies on a dynamic, photo-responsive
coating that can repeatedly and efficiently disrupt oral biofilm attachment, the proposal aims to develop photo-
responsive coatings on the surface of restoratives that can repeatedly and reliably be called upon to physically
disrupt and dislodge biofilms.