Explore UAB

The eighteenth annual UAB School of Dentistry Scholars Symposium will be held Thursday, March 2, 2023. The symposium will feature Esra Sahingur, DDS, MS, PhD as keynote speaker and Ping Zhang, DDS, PhD as the faculty presenter. The day will begin with poster presentations held in UAB Hospital, West Pavilion Atrium from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Esra Sahingur, DDS, MS, PhD Esra Sahingur, DDS, MS, PhD Sahingur’s talk, “Finding a balance: Targeting inflammation to maintain periodontal and systemic health,” will kick off the afternoon session at 2:00 p.m. in Margaret Cameron Spain Auditorium.

A board-certified periodontist and immunologist, Sahingur has served as the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Student Research at Penn Dental Medicine since 2019. Prior to joining Penn Dental Medicine, she was a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Dentistry for 13 years.

Sahingur’s research program has been continuously funded by federal and non-federal grants and focuses on defining the role of immune and inflammatory pathways in periodontal disease pathogenesis, genetic and epigenetic susceptibility to periodontitis and the link between oral and systemic diseases. Sahingur and her team pioneered the studies that revealed the involvement of nucleic acid sensing and ubiquitination in periodontal disease pathogenesis and more recently they have been exploring the link between oral cavity, gut, and liver axis and the role of cellular senescence in periodontal health and disease.

Sahingur participates as a standing member in NIH study sections and in editorial boards of journals including Journal of Dental Research and Molecular Oral Microbiology. She is published widely and gives numerous invited talks nationally and internationally.

Zhang is a Professor and Director of Research for the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at UAB. She is also a senior scientist in the UAB Global Center for Craniofacial, Oral and Dental Disorders, Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Comprehensive Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, Bone and Autoimmunity Center, Microbiome Center, Civitan International Research Center, and Nathan Shock Center for Excellence in Basic Biology of Aging.

Ping Zhang, DDS, PhD Ping Zhang, DDS, PhD Zhang’s research interests include host-microbial interactions in oral infectious diseases, inflammatory signaling pathways, osteoimmunology, mechanism of periodontal bone loss, and the association between periodontal disease and systemic diseases.  Zhang has served as a principal investigator or a co-investigator on multiple grants from National Institute of Health (NIH).  She has published 74 peer reviewed articles, 8 book chapters, and over 60 research abstracts, in addition to serving as an invited reviewer for multiple study sections and review panels. She also served as a symposium chair of AADOCR meeting and was the AL chapter president of AADOCR from 2019 to 2021.

Zhang will present, “Periodontitis: from local destruction to brain dysfunction.”

Scholars Symposium is a celebration of the dental school’s research accomplishments, highlighting the scientific achievements of dental students, residents, and faculty as they impact oral health locally and globally. The event features interdisciplinary bench and clinical research within the school’s five clusters of scientific expertise.

This year’s event is part of the UAB School of Dentistry's 75th anniversary celebration. The theme is 'Microbiology and Immunology.'