Singh receives over $1.7 million for oral health research

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School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—The National Institutes of Health has granted over $1.7 million to biomedical scientist Dr. Brij Singh at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences to fund his research in improving oral health.

Almost 9 million Americans suffer from the common problem of dry mouth or xerostomia, a result of decreased saliva flow from underfunctioning salivary glands. Patients with dry mouth suffer symptoms of varying severity, ranging from being an annoyance to a major detriment to general health. Chronic dry mouth significantly increases the risk of developing dental caries as well as other oral diseases.

For over 15 years, the NIH has funded the work of Professor Singh, PhD, whose research focuses on how a specific gene, TRPC1, regulates calcium levels in cells that control the secretion of saliva. The NIH recently awarded Singh over $1.7 million to continue his research on the function TRPC1 plays in saliva secretion in normal and disease conditions such as Sjögren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune disorder—where the immune system attacks the body’s own cells and tissues. In Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system attacks the moisture-secreting glands of the eyes and mouth. It can also affect joints, the thyroid gland, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, and nerves.

“There is a critical need to characterize TRPC1 function and to define the molecular pathways involved in regulating saliva secretion in normal and disease conditions,” Singh said. “We have the required tools to successfully complete this project. This information will be critical to explore potential therapeutic interventions and strategies to treat salivary gland hypofunctions.”

Funding for Singh’s work is supported by a five-year R01 grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an institute of the National Institutes of Health. The Research Project Grant (R01) is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism used by the NIH. An R01 grant provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH, which is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

A part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH is the nation's medical research agency. The NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.