It was during his dental training in India that Dr. Priyam Jani was first drawn to the research field.
“During my time in dental school, I got to learn in detail how the human body works,” explains Jani, who received his doctorate in the oral biology program at Texas A&M College of Dentistry in December 2016. “The development process from an embryo to a fully grown adult is fascinating. Our teeth transform from a soft tooth bud to mineralized tissue and become the hardest structures of our body.”
At the same time, delving into the study of disease processes opened Jani’s eyes to a disconnect between dentistry and research: “I realized that a lot of cellular mechanisms involved in these processes are not well understood to date,” Jani says. “I became curious to learn the molecular process of development and became inclined toward research.”
After receiving his dental degree from Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences and practicing dentistry in Mumbai, India, for three years, his curiosity got the better of him, and he applied for and was accepted into the oral biology doctoral program at Texas A&M College of Dentistry. Working in the lab of Biomedical Sciences Professor Dr. Chunlin Qin, he delved deeper into this fascination, exploring the proteins involved in the formation of dentin, specifically one known as DSPP, or dentin sialophosphoprotein. Mutations in this protein can lead to congenital conditions that result in weakened dentin, and with it, a high susceptibility to tooth decay and sensitivity.