Department of Oral Biology: News


Mark Mooney to Receive 2012 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Craniofacial Biology Research

Alexandria, Va., USA – The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) has announced that Mark Mooney is the recipient of the 2012 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Craniofacial Biology Research. He will be recognized at the Association’s 90th General Session & Exhibition in Iguaçu Falls, Brazil, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. This meeting will be held in conjunction with the IADR Latin American Regional Meeting.

Mooney holds joint appointments in the Departments of Oral Medicine and Pathology, Anthropology, Surgery-Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Orthodontics in the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He received his M.S. in biological psychology from the Western Illinois University, Macomb, USA, and received his Ph.D. in physical anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Mooney's research interests have included craniofacial and developmental biology, and the complex genetic and environmental factors that are involved in shaping the human face and body. His principal interest has been the development of various animal models to investigate the interaction of surgery and congenital facial abnormalities on postnatal craniofacial growth in individuals with birth defects to the head and neck.

Supported by DENTSPLY International, the Craniofacial Biology Research Award was established to recognize individuals who have contributed to the body of knowledge in craniofacial biology over a significant period of time, and whose research contributions have been accepted by the scientific community. It is one of the 16 IADR Distinguished Scientist Awards and is one of the highest honors bestowed by IADR. The award consists of a monetary prize and a plaque.

About the International Association for Dental Research
The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) is a nonprofit organization with nearly 12,000 individual members worldwide, dedicated to: (1) advancing research and increasing knowledge to improve oral health, (2) supporting the oral health research community, and (3) facilitating the communication and application of research findings for the improvement of oral health worldwide.
To learn more about IADR, visit

Pitt dental school to start program on cleft palates, head injuries



Monday, October 3, 2011 


Dr. Mark Mooney, program director of the Pitt dental school's new grad programs looks on earlier this week from his desk at Salk Hall on Pitt Campus. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

The University of Pittsburgh's dental school is starting a program that will produce a new generation of professors and researchers in specialties including preventing birth defects of the mouth and face — such as cleft palates — and growing new bones and cartilage to repair facial injuries.

Dr. Mark Mooney, chairman of the graduate program in oral biology, which will begin its inaugural class of master's and doctoral candidates next fall, plans to build on the university's strengths in those two medical specialties.

Although some universities have made progress in one discipline or the other, Mooney said Pitt's strengths in both make the school unique and should offer a prime draw for students hoping to teach and do advanced research that takes science from the laboratory to patient treatment.

He said the new students are likely to tackle a host of challenges, including unraveling the genetic underpinnings of cleft palates. The birth defect that affects about 16 in every 10,000 live births in the United States is among the most common, Mooney said.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show cleft palates are about 20 percent more prevalent than Down syndrome. But early surgical interventions here make the appearance of cleft palates an anomaly in the country.

Scientists have identified multiple genes involved in the condition, but Mooney said the challenge remains to determine how those genes interact at a molecular level and what errors in such interactions translate into the condition.

"We're finding the more we know about this, the less we know," Mooney said. The new department's other specialty track, craniofacial tissue engineering — growing new bones and cartilage for the head and face — could tap into Pitt's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Mooney said researchers there work closely with the Department of Defense.

Long-term goals, aimed at treating wounds soldiers receive in battle, include creating an artificial platform that could be used in the body to grow cells to replace damaged cartilage or bone in the face.

Mooney said the oral biology program, funded by a variety of grants, will begin accepting applications later this fall.


February 10, 2011 -  Dr. Mary L. Marazita was profiled in an issue of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) "Strides in Science."

AADR Strides in Science is a feature highlighting an AADR member’s accomplishments and comments on how his/her involvement with the AADR has been an important part of his/her career in research. If you would like to nominate a colleague to be featured, please send his/her name to

Mary L. Marazita, PhD, has been a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh since 1993 and is currently the Associate Dean for Research, Vice Chair of the Department of Oral Biology, and a Professor (Oral Biology, Human Genetics, Psychiatry and the Clinical & Translational Science Institute). She has been a member of AADR since 1991.