Timur Abashev and Lisa Sandell
Timur Abashev and Lisa Sandell

Loss of salivary gland function is a devastating condition for those with the autoimmune disease Sjogrens syndrome, individuals who undergo radiation to the head and neck, or people who experience trauma.

Lisa Sandell, PhD, assistant professor in UofL’s Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases, says there is a pressing medical need to regenerate or bioengineer replacement salivary glands for people who suffer from salivary gland dysfunction.

Sandell and her team are working to advance science as they study the molecules and signals that an embryo uses to orchestrate the process of de novo gland formation. She says the ultimate aim is for some of these molecules to be utilized to promote regeneration or be used in bioengineering approaches to generate tissues for implantation.

While working in Sandell’s lab, Master of Science in Oral Biology student Timur Abashev, recently designed and carried out a study focused on the developmental growth of salivary gland epithelium. The results were published in the journal, Developmental Dynamics, and his data image was selected for the cover of the February 2017 issue.

“To accomplish such a study and bring it to successful publication within the timeframe of a Masters project is a great achievement for a student,” Sandell said.

Sandell says it is exciting to work with students to uncover new knowledge, and to be a part of their long-term success. Abashev graduated from the MSOB program in December 2016, and is volunteering in Sandell’s lab this semester. He plans to begin an Advanced Standing for International Dentists program at University of the Pacific this summer.