What is Oral Biology Research?

The Oral biology research core focuses on the oral biology domain which encompasses research related to structure, development, and function of oral cavity constituents, and their local and systemic interactions in the context of local and systemic health and disease.  Oral biology research broadly intersects other research domains including microbiology, immunology, genetics, biochemistry, biophysics, craniofacial biology, and molecular biology.  Oral biology research approaches intersect both the basic and clinical research arenas.


  • Oral Microbiology
  • Genetics and Dental Bioinformatics
  • Biobanking of Oral Clinical Samples

Current Initiatives:

Integrating Proteomic and Metabolomic Profiles of the Oral Microflora Associated with Periodontal Disease with Links to Electronic Health Record

The goal of this study is to learn more about how the oral microbiota of healthy and diseases individuals could influence human health. We are doing this by collecting and analyzing oral/dental plaque samples from diabetic and non-diabetic patients who may or may not have periodontal disease.  The plaque samples are being analyzed to determine microbiome, identify bacterial proteins, fats, and metabolites present in them. The protein, fat and metabolites profiles will be studied to determine their association with diabetic and non-diabetic status in patients with and without periodontal disease.

Oral and Systemic Specimen Bio-banking

There is a growing appreciation of the role that oral (in particular periodontal) health plays in common chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and hypertension.  This is a largely untapped field.  With the recent expansion of Family Health Center dental clinics and dental instruction in Wisconsin, along with the realization that significant health disparities result from current dental care delivery systems, this initiative is of great importance as it leverages strengths in bio-banking, microbiome characterization, electronic health records (medical and dental), bioinformatics and dental informatics. The expansion of the Personalized Medicine Research Project cohort to include the dental patients, led by the Center for Human Genetics AND Center for Oral and Systemic Health, will allow MCRI to capitalize on its existing and growing strengths in the areas of complex disease interactions and Precision Medicine Initiatives to advance oral and systemic health. The bio-banking will be highly responsive to the designated priorities of the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research and Healthy People 2020 priorities. The project plans to look at participant’s genetic information, clinical attributes captured through Marshfield Clinic’s integrated EHR, and additional environmental data (i.e. dietary information and socio-economic factors) to advance the ability to predict, treat and prevent oral disease.

Sanjay K. Shukla, Ph.D.
Oral Biology Core Lead
Phone: (715) 389-5363