Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine’s Dr. Hyeran Helen Jeon, Assistant Professor of Orthodontics, has been recognized by the American Association of Orthodontists Foundation (AAOF) for her research and commitment to academic dentistry as the 2019 recipient of the Orhan C. Tuncay Teaching Fellowship Award, one of AAOF’s annual Orthodontic Faculty Development Fellowship Awards.
The award will entirely support Dr. Jeon’s research into the role of primary cilia in Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) during maxillary expansion under the mentorship of Dr. Shuying (Sheri) Yang, Department of Basic and Translational Sciences at Penn Dental Medicine.
“Posterior crossbite in children aged 8 to 11 is reasonably common, occurring in 7.1 % of U.S. children. Maxillary expansion is a common orthodontic treatment procedure to correct transverse maxillary deficiency. While MSCs in the mid-palatal suture proliferate and differentiate into osteoblasts when the suture is expanded and therefore new bone formation occurs in the suture, to date, the mechanism by which stem cells sense and transduce mechanical stimulus into a biochemical response remains undetermined,” says Dr. Jeon. “We hope to learn more about that process with this study.”
Dr. Jeon explains that she hopes the study will provide the foundation for not only orthodontic and orthopedic procedures, but also other areas of the dental and craniofacial research, including tissue engineering, distraction osteogenesis, and bone remodeling. “MSCs have been extensively investigated for therapeutic applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” says Dr. Jeon. “Thus, understanding the role of primary cilia, recognized as important cellular sensors that integrate and transduce extracellular signals into functional responses, in regulating stem cell mechano-responses is very important.”
The AAOF Fellowship Awards are designed to support the development of junior faculty and encourage orthodontic students and graduates to pursue careers in orthodontic education. The AAOF believes that the clinical investigator and scientist must be supported to encourage and enable them to develop their teaching, patient care, and research activities to their highest potential, and in turn, advance orthodontic education and progress for the specialty.
Dr. Jeon, who earned her postdoctoral Orthodontics certificate and Doctor of Science in Dentistry (DScD) under the direction of Dr. Dana Graves, Vice Dean for Scholarship and Research at Penn Dental Medicine, has been part of the School’s full-time Orthodontics faculty since 2016. Dr. Jeon holds a DDS from Pusan National University, South Korea, and she also completed Periodontics training and a MSD degree at Ewha Woman’s University, South Korea. Her main research interests are bone remodeling, wound healing, and maxillary expansion using temporary anchorage devices.