Baylor's Scientific Training Program for Dental Academic Researchers:  B-STARS

Bonds photoJohn Bonds - John began the program in fall 2009 by taking his D1 year.  After that he took some of the graduate courses needed for his PhD degree.  In fall 2013, he resumed taking the dental curriculum (D2, D3, D4 years).  Prior to entering the College of Dentistry, John attended the University of Texas, Austin, where he earned a BS in Biochemistry.  He had started a PhD program in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas, Dallas, when he heard about the dual-degree program.  John's original research mentors at the College of Dentistry were Drs. Rena D'Souza and Gabriele Mues.  He was interested in the area of gene regulation in the developing tooth bud and thought he would eventually be both a researcher and a professor.  He believed that "to be awarded a grant combining his two passions, dentistry and research, would be a great honor.  His ultimate goal was to improve the overall health of society by bridging the gap between dental and clinical research and he hoped that one day his future contributions would make an impact on the way the dental profession handles current problems."

Anika VAnika photooisey Rodgers - Anika earned a BS in Biology at Texas A&M University and had completed 18 hours toward a MS degree in Biology at the University of Kentucky when she transferred to the DDS/PhD program at the College of Dentistry in summer 2009.  She concentrated on her PhD requirements and on performing research in her mentor's (Dr. Jerry Feng) lab.  During her previous project at the University of Kentucky, she had designed and created a mouse model to characterize the biochemical link between apoptosis and autophagy through the deletion of the BH3 domain from Beclin 1, a tumor suppressor protein.  In Dr. Feng's lab, Anika switched her focus to studying DKK1 (Dickkopf 1) and its role in calvarial osteogenesis.  In fall 2012, she began the DDS portion of her program with her D1 year and then continued to take the dental curriculum for the next three years.  Anika said that "The DDS/PhD program presented a great opportunity for individuals like me to successfully integrate a strong interest in dentistry with a passion for research.  I was incredibly excited to discover the existence of, and be admitted into, this dual-degree option.  My objective is to maximize the learning potential this program offers, enabling me to achieve my long-term career aspirations to practice dentistry, perform cutting-edge dental research, while also developing into an effective academic mentor."

Crystal photo

Crystal Johnson - Crystal is the most recent student to be admitted to the DDS/PhD program.  Prior to beginning her studies at the College of Dentistry, she had earned her BS in Chemistry from the University of Houston and completed a certificate in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas.  Crystal had already completed her D1 year when she was accepted into the dual-degree program.  She became involved in summer research in 2011 and took graduate courses as her schedule allowed.  She took the subsequent years of the dental curriculum and by Spring 2014 she had finished her DDS degree.  She is now devoting herself full time to the PhD portion of her program.  Her area of research interest is in dental pulp complex regeneration using peptide hydrogel scaffolds and Dental Pulp Stem Cells.  Her goals following the completion of her doctorate include obtaining a Master's degree in Health Professions Education and a career in dental academia.  Crystal believes that "The training of dental educators is important to the longevity and sustainability of dentistry as a profession.  Second, I believe that advancement of the field of dentistry through translational research is equally as important, and I plan to be a part of both fields in efforts to advance them."