American Academy of Periodontology, Sunstar Announce 2019 Innovation Grant Recipients

Kevin M. Byrd, DDS, PhD, Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, MS and Chun-Teh Lee, DDS, MS, DMSc awarded $30,000 each for research projects

Chicago, Illinois – September 26, 2019 – The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is pleased to announce that members Kevin M. Byrd, DDS, PhD, Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, MS, and Chun-Teh Lee, DDS, MS, DMSc are the 2019 recipients of the SUNSTAR Innovation Grant. They will each receive $30,000 for their research projects as part of the AAP’s partnership with oral health and technology company SUNSTAR, which has committed to awarding scientific grants to AAP members whose investigations show significant potential to advance the specialty of periodontics.

Dr. Byrd’s research project, “An Atlas of Experimental Gingivitis in Humans at Single Cell Resolution,” aims to develop chairside tools to predict gingivitis to periodontitis conversion (i.e. at-risk individuals) and to develop specific adjuvant therapies for periodontitis-afflicted individuals based on the principles of precision medicine. “Recently, there has been an exponential increase in our understanding of human diseases,” says Dr. Byrd. “However, even for common oral diseases like periodontitis, we have just begun to grasp the complexity of interactions at play.”

Dr. Geisinger’s research project, “Development of Multimedia Educational Materials for Caregivers to Enable Optimal Oral Hygiene Provisions for Patients with Dementia,” intends to develop multimedia tools that can be used to educate professional and familial caregivers for patients with moderate to severe dementia about delivery of oral hygiene. “Our team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in conjunction with our geriatric specialist nursing faculty, has developed a protocol that reduces care resistant behavior during oral hygiene delivery to dementia patients,” says Dr. Geisinger.

Dr. Lee’s research project, “Improving Periodontal Health through a Precision Periodontal Health Care Chart,” aims to effectively educate patients, monitor their risk profile for periodontitis progression, and improve treatment outcomes using a Precision Periodontal Health Care Chart in the electronic health record system. According to Dr. Lee, “The Precision Periodontal Health Care Chart will provide patients information about the association between periodontitis and systemic diseases and a personal risk profile for periodontitis.”

As part of the Innovation Grant program, SUNSTAR has committed $250,000 towards six research grants to select AAP members over a three-year period, which began in 2017. Members of the AAP’s Research Submissions Committee examine all abstracts against criteria established by SUNSTAR and the Academy. Drs. Bird, Geisinger and Lee are the fourth, fifth and sixth recipients of the award. “These three projects have the potential to have a profound impact on the practice of periodontics and the quality of care received by periodontal patients,” says Richard T. Kao, DDS, PhD, president of the AAP. “SUNSTAR’s continued generosity in backing this important research will contribute to the impact of the specialty for years to come. The Academy greatly appreciates SUNSTAR’s longstanding dedication to furthering the science and practice of periodontics.”

According to Tom Raish, Senior Brand Manager, Guidor of SUNSTAR Americas, “This year’s work by the SUNSTAR Innovation Grant recipients continues to provide support towards the commitment to improving oral health and prevention of periodontal disease.  We at SUNSTAR are pleased to partner with the AAP in providing this platform for scientific research and, subsequently, the improvement of patient health.”

Dr. Bird is a Research Instructor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. Dr. Geisinger is an Assistant Professor at the UAB School of Dentistry. Dr. Lee is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. They will present the results of their studies at a future AAP Annual Meeting.

For more information on the SUNSTAR Innovation Grant, contact Stephanie Heffner, scientific affairs & policy manager, at .

For information about AAP and periodontology, please visit

About the American Academy of Periodontology

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) represents nearly 8,000 periodontists—specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of inflammatory diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

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