Accomplished Stem Cell Researcher Dr. Songtao Shi Joins Penn Dental Medicine


Dr. Songtao Shi

Philadelphia — Building on the depth of Penn Dental Medicine’s research enterprise is a recent faculty recruit to the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology – Dr. Songtao Shi. Dr. Shi, a highly respected researcher and educator, joined the School as Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology on November 4.

Dr. Shi comes to Penn Dental Medicine from the University of Southern California (USC) Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, where he has served as Professor within the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology since 2011. He first joined the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry in 2006 as Assistant Professor, advancing to Tenured Associate Professor in 2008. Prior to joining the faculty at USC, he served as a Principal Investigator and Clinical Fellow for nine years at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research/NIH. Dr. Shi earned both his DDS and MS at Peking University School of Stomatology and holds a PhD in Craniofacial Biology from USC. Clinically, Dr. Shi holds Dental Licensure in the State of California and has had experience working at the NIH Clinical Center and in private practice in California.

Dr. Shi leads an accomplished research program that focuses on the characterization of human mesenchymal stem cells and the relationship between mesenchymal stem cells and orofacial diseases at the molecule and cellular levels. Along with his collaborators, his lab has isolated and identified several new populations of mesenchymal stem cells, including dental pulp stem cells, stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth, periodontal ligament stem cells, stem cells from apical papilla, and tendon stem/progenitor cells. These discoveries are enabling further investigations of these oral-tissue-derived stem cells and their use in tissue engineering, disease modeling, and clinical treatment. Dr. Shi and his collaborators were the first to use mesenchymal stem cells to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), periodontitis, and regenerate pulp tissue in patients. Dr. Shi was recognized for his research activities with the 2013 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award for Pulp Biology & Regeneration.

“Highly collaborative, Dr. Shi has extensive connections internationally, particularly in China,” says Dr. Denis Kinane, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “He brings a passion for science and teaching that I know will contribute greatly to our research and educational efforts across disciplines.”