The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute’s tissue engineering work won first place at the American Association for Dental Research Hatton Competition, held March 16 in Los Angeles.

The tissue engineering team, led by Swati Pradhan-Bhatt, Ph.D., and Robert Witt, M.D., FACS, is nationally recognized for their work with developing bioengineered salivary glands to help relieve some debilitating side effects associated with radiation therapy.

The winning presentation, titled “Salivary Gland Regeneration Using Differentiated Populations from Human Stem/Progenitor Cells,” was given by post-doctoral researcher Padma Pradeepa Srinivasan, Ph.D., who will represent the team at the International Association for Dental Research Hatton competition held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, this June.

In their lab at the Center for Translational Cancer Research, the tissue engineering team has successfully isolated stem/progenitor cells from human salivary tissue and demonstrated their directed differentiation into cell types capable of secreting salivary proteins. The project is funded in part by an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health, on which Dr. Witt is the principal investigator, and Dr. Pradhan-Bhatt, co-investigator, in collaboration with the University of Delaware’s Xinqiao Jia, Ph.D., and Cindy Farach-Carson, Ph.D., at Rice University.