ECU dental student from Charlotte will spend a year at the National Institutes of Health

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Omar Glover, a fourth-year dental student at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, has been selected to attend the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars (MRS) program for the next year.

The program allows medical, dental and veterinary students to pause their university studies to live on the intramural campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and conduct basic, clinical or translational research. The program aims to advance health by inspiring careers in biomedical research.

Glover is one of only two dental students among 51 health professional students from across the nation to be invited to join this year’s program.

Originally from Charlotte, N.C., Glover earned a bachelor’s degree in African-American studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in biology from UNC-Charlotte in 2015.

At UNC-Charlotte, Glover served as lead lab assistant in the biology lab for two years, working with faculty mentors to study the mechanisms involved in the regulation of liver function under septic conditions.

Prior to entering dental school in 2016, Glover was competitively named an ECU School of Dental Medicine Summer Research Scholar—one of four funded positions awarded annually by the school.

At ECU, Glover and mentors investigated biomarkers within saliva that indicate a patient’s level of stress. He conducted a feasibility study with healthy volunteers that acquainted him with human subject research, outcome measurements and data interpretation.

As a result, the school awarded Glover travel funds to give presentations at local and national competitions. He won first place at the Student National Dental Association National Research Competition in Orlando, Florida, in 2017.

Glover was also involved in studying the accuracy of endodontic instruments and in smoking cessation research. He served as president of the school’s Student Research Group (SRG), the national network of dental student researchers in the U.S. and Canada.

At the NIH, Glover’s research will involve testing mutations in enzymes found in patients with developmental diseases. He will work with principal investigator Dr. Achim Werner, a Stadtman Investigator of the Stem Cell Biochemistry Unit within the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.“Dental school has shown me that there are many sides to dentistry,” Glover said. “Doctors are not only in the clinic treating patients; they are also doing research to improve the delivery of care. Ultimately, I would like to be able to bridge the gap between patient care, technology and access to care.”

Dr. David Paquette, chair of the Department of Surgical Sciences and interim associate dean for research at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, said, “Omar’s consistent engagement in research portends genuine enthusiasm to pursue advanced research training and a long-term career in academic dentistry and research.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars Program is a public-private partnership supported jointly by the NIH and generous contributions to the Foundation for the NIH from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the American Association for Dental Research, the Colgate-Palmolive Company, Elsevier, alumni of student research programs, and other individual supporters via contributions to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

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