Dr. Fusun Ozer Receives Rabinowitz Award for Excellence in Research


Dr. Fusun Ozer, Josephine Rabinowitz, Dr. Joseph DiRienzo, and Dr. Markus Blatz.

Philadelphia –The Joseph and Josephine Rabinowitz Award for Excellence in Research is continuing to support new collaborations across disciplines at Penn Dental Medicine (PDM), presented this year to Dr. Fusun Ozer of the Department of Preventive & Restorative Sciences. The award was presented on April 28 at a special reception held at PDM with members of the Rabinowitz family, who endowed the award.

Dr. Ozer, who has been a member of the School’s faculty for approximately five years, came to PDM from the Department of Operative Dentistry at Selcuk University in Turkey, where she was a professor and department chair. Dr. Ozer has a broad background in adhesive dentistry and dental materials, with specific training and expertise in the research areas of dentinal bonding and in developing a more biologically stable adhesive/dentin interface. She holds a DMD from PDM and a PhD from Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey.

The Rabinowitz Award is designed to help Penn Dental Medicine faculty undertake pilot projects that will enable them to successfully apply for extramural sources of funding. This year’s applications focused on new projects that also involve new collaborations between Penn Dental Medicine faculty and other investigators within the School or the Penn community. Dr. Ozer’s project is “Influence of PVN/MA copolymer on bacterial adherence to dentin and resin composite surfaces” and will involve collaborations with Dr. Joseph DiRienzo, Department of Microbiology; and Drs. Francis Mante and Markus Blatz, Department of Preventive & Restorative Sciences.

“It has been recently reported that a copolymer of methylvinyl ether (PVM) and maleic acid (MA) plays a key role in reducing plaque retention by inhibiting the initial adhesion of bacteria to enamel surfaces,” says Dr. Ozer. “The proposed research study will evaluate the effects of PVM/MA containing one-bottle resin bonding agent in preventing bacterial colonization on the dentin and resin composite surfaces. The development of this new antibacterial bonding agent is expected to have a great impact on oral health care, in particular for high-caries-risk patients.”

The Rabinowitz Award was established in 2002 through the generosity of the late Dr. Joseph “Jose” Rabinowitz, an active member of the School’s Biochemistry faculty for 29 years, and his wife, Josephine. Dr. Rabinowitz joined Penn’s School of Medicine faculty in 1958 and moved to Penn Dental Medicine in 1963, where he served on the active faculty through 1992. Even after becoming Professor Emeritus, he continued to teach in the Biochemistry Department until his death in 2009. Dr. Rabinowitz was known for his research in lipid and steroid biochemistry, and his research helped lead to the development of the important class of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. The award was created to promote independent research among Penn Dental Medicine faculty members.