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Dr. Özlem Yilmaz' laboratory focuses on oral opportunistic bacteria and host interactions. Her lab is particularly interested in the molecular aspects of a major  pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis in intra-epimucosal colonization in gingiva using advanced human primary cell culture systems and transgenic mice-models. Dr. Yilmaz' lab is one of the few research teams in the US dedicated to uncovering the complex interplays between host and periodontal bacteria in the context of microbial symbiosis as well as pathophysiology of the oral cavity and other systemic locations.

Check Out Our Feature on NIH!

Our work was selected as one of the images in the the NIH Research Image Gallery.

Jaden Lee received 1st place in the 2022 AADOCR Hatton Competition

Jaden Lee, a DMD/PhD candidate, won first place in the AADOCR Senior Hatton Competition for his novel research presentation. He also presented at the 2022 IADR Hatton Competition in China.

Jaden Lee graduated from MUSC's  DMD/PhD Program

Congratulations to Jaden Lee, for completing his DMD/PhD Program! Jaden  is placed in the Periodontics Postgraduate Program at University of Michigan.

Jaden Lee was consecutively awarded the prestigious AADR Student Research Fellowship

Jaden Lee, a DMD/PhD candidate, won the AADR Student Research Award two consecutive years (2017-2018) to support his research project and participate in the next AADR meeting. 

Dr. Yilmaz became an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, England

Dr. Özlem Yilmaz was inducted as an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, England in 2017. The Society promotes the exchange of information on science, practice and medicine.

Jaden Lee was awarded NIH NRSA F30 Pre-Doctoral Grant
Jaden and Dr. Yilmaz in IADR meeting in

Congratulations to Jaden Lee, DMD/PhD candidate in our lab! Jaden was recently awarded an NIH F30 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award from NIDCR.

Bridgette Wellslager received 2nd place in the 2024 AADOCR Hatton Competition

Bridgette Wellslager, a PhD candidate, won second place in the AADOCR Hatton Senior Competition in New Orleans for her novel research presentation. 

Brianyell McDaniel-Mims received 2nd place in the 2024 AADOCR Hatton Competition

Brianyell McDaniel-Mims, a Post-Doctoral Scholar, won second place in the AADOCR Hatton Post-Doc Competition in New Orleans for her novel research presentation. 

Bridgette Wellslager received the 2023 AADOCR Student Research Day Award

Congratulations to Bridgette Wellsalger, a PhD Candidate, who was recently awarded the prestigious 2023 AADOCR Student Research Day Award.

Bridgette Wellslager received 1st Place Award at the MUSC-Karolinska Institut-UNL Joint Redox Program

Bridgette Wellslager, a PhD candidate, was accepted as a Fellow in a week-long redox biology program jointly organized by MUSC, KI, and UNL. Bridgette received 1st place for best PhD research project.

Ayana Paul entered into Emory Microbiology PhD Program 

Ayana Paul will pursue her PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Emory University.

Bridgette Wellslager was awarded NIH NRSA F31 Pre-Doctoral Grant
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Congratulations to Bridgette Wellslager, a PhD Candidate, who was recently awarded the F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant from NIDCR.

JoAnn Roberts was awarded NIH NRSA F31 Pre-Doctoral Grant

Congratulations to JoAnn Roberts, a PhD Candidate, who was recently awarded the prestigious F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant Award from the NIDCR.

JoAnn Roberts received a scholarship to study redox biology in Karolinska Institutet
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JoAnn Roberts, a PhD candidate, was granted a scholarship to study redox biology in Summer 2017 at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. 

Microbes and Infection: Special Issue

In July 2015, Dr. Yilmaz edited a special issue in Microbes and Infection, Institut Pasteur, that focuses on oral pathogens and microbiome in health and disease. 

Ayana Paul completed MUSC's PREP program
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Ayana Paul completed her Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) as part of the 2021-2022 cohort

Recent Selected Publications

  • Sheridan, M., Chowdhury, N., Wellslager, B., Oleinik, N., Kassir, M.F., Lee, H.G., Engevik, M., Peterson, Y., Pandruvada, S., Szulc, Z.M., Yilmaz, O., Ogretmen, B. (2024). Opportunistic pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis targets the LC3B-ceramide complex and mediates lethal mitophagy resistance in oral tumors, iScience. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2024.109860. 
    EurokAlert, June 18 2024, https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1048587 and featured, Interdisciplinary team maps role of P. gingivalis in drug resistance | MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

  • Patel S, Howard D, Chowdhury N, Derieux C, Wellslager B, Yilmaz O, and French L (2021). Characterization of human genes modulated by Porphyromonas gingivalis highlights the ribosome, hypothalamus, and cholinergic neurons. Front Immunol. 12:646259. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.646259

  • Lee, JS, Yilmaz, O (2020). Key Elements of Gingival Epithelial Homeostasis upon Bacterial Interaction. Invited Review, Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine Section. Journal of Dental Res. Nov 17;22034520973012. doi: 10.1177/0022034520973012.

  • Lee, JS, Chowdhury N, Roberts, JS, and Yilmaz O (2020). Host surface ectonucleotidase-CD73 and the opportunistic pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, cross-modulation underlies a new homeostatic mechanism for chronic bacterial survival in human epithelial cells. Virulence. 11:414-429. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2020.1763061.

  • Lee J, Spooner R, Chowdhury N, Pandey V, Wellslager B, Atanasova K, Evans Z, Yilmaz O (2020). In Situ Intraepithelial Localizations of Opportunistic Pathogens, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Filifactor alocis, in Human Gingiva. Current Research in Microbial Sciences. 1, 7-17. doi: 10.1016/j.crmicr.2020.05.001.

  • Olsen I and Yilmaz O (2019). Possible role of Porphyromonas gingivalis in orodigestive cancers. J Oral Microbiol. Jan 9;11(1):1563410. doi: 10.1080/20002297.2018.1563410. eCollection 2019.

  • Lee K, Roberts JS, Choi C, Atanasova KR, Yilmaz O (2018) Porphyromonas gingivalis Traffics into Endoplasmic Reticulum-Rich-Autophagosomes for Successful Survival in Human Gingival Epithelial Cells, Virulence  April 4:1-26. doi:10.1080/21505594.2018.1454171

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