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Pittsburgh Craniofacial Sciences Training Program (PCSTP)

About the PCSTP

Pittsburgh Craniofacial Sciences Training Program (PCSTP) was established in 2022 with a goal to train and mentor a new generation of leading scientists in Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial sciences. The program is designed to support predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. The PCSTP provides a highly collaborative, vibrant multidisciplinary environment, where trainees from different backgrounds, i.e., oral and craniofacial sciences, bioengineering, immunology and human genetics, work side by side to  develop therapies.

The PCSTP is administered and managed by the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences (OCS) with faculty mentors from OCS and other Pitt Dental or University departments. The PCSTP provides courses, research experiences, seminar series, journal clubs, an annual symposium, and an annual retreat. Our trainees have full access to all University resources, such as training in artificial intelligence, the responsible conduct of research, grant writing and many other opportunities. Our trainees benefit from a wealth of seminars, conferences, intramural funding opportunities, and specialized training and experiences available through hundreds of laboratories and clinics across the six schools of the health sciences, Swanson School of Engineering and the Pitt Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI).

Application Process 

Applications must be submitted by March 31st each year to be considered for a September 1st. start date.  

Application packets may be submitted to the PCSTP Administrator, Ms. Deb Haralam at  


       Eligibility for Predoc positions

  • Applicants must be enrolled in a PhD program through the academic department of the faculty mentor.   

  • Candidates pursuing simultaneous DMD and PhD degrees are encouraged. 

  • Applicants may not have a prior doctoral degree (DDS/DMD, MD, PhD).

  • The applicant must be a United States citizen or permanent resident of the US. 

  • Student trainees are required to participate in the core training requirements while actively funded through grant number T90-DE030853, and plan to submit an individual NRSA application (F- or K‐award) to NIH. 


      Eligibility for Postdoc positions 

  • Applicants must have a doctoral degree (DDS/DMD, MD, PhD) 

  • Non-US-citizen/non-permanent resident applicants with a DDS/DMD may be foreign trained (for grant number R90-DE030853), and either seeking a PhD or postdoctoral research experience 

  • US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for postdoctoral positions through the T90-DE030853 grant. 

  • All trainees are required to participate in the Core Training Requirements during the months funded through the T90/R90 and are required to submit an individual NRSA application (For K‐award) to NIH. 



The T90/R90 grant covers NRSA allowable tuition, stipend, health and dental benefits, as well as support for trainees to travel to various research events.   

Application Procedure:  

The mentor and the nominated PhD Trainee should work together to provide the following items: 

  • PCSTP Application Cover Page 

  • academic record (unofficial transcript(s) from most recent institution) of the nominee

  • the nominee’s curriculum vitae (CV) 

  • description of the nominee's research, with the specific aims relevance to oral health 

  • description of career goals and how participation in PCSTP will advance these goals

  • past funding information (UPitt history and any previous grant appointments) 

  • Three confidential letters of recommendation are required and may be submitted by the mentor to Ms. Deb Haralam. 

Applications for admission to the program are considered on a rolling basis. The PCSTP Operating Committee meets quarterly to complete the trainee selection. If you have questions, please contact Deb Haralam

Training Grant mentors 


Research Area 


Alejandro Almarza 

Temporomandibular Joint / Pain. Understanding mechanisms of temporomandibular joint pain and osteoarthritis, using genetic rodent models. Development of novel biomaterials for joint tissue regeneration. 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Elia Beniash 

Mineralized Tissues/Biomaterials. Formation, structure and function of mineralized tissues; bioinspired nanomaterials. 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Mariana Bezamat 

Craniofacial Genetics/Phenomics of oral health and disease, in connection with systemic health, particularly with cancers and cardiovascular diseases. 


Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Bryan Brown 

Tissue engineering Temporomandibular joint; Host response to biomaterials 

Pitt Engineering/ Biomedical Engineering 

Daniel Clark 

Understanding the immune response in periodontal disease and bone regeneration. 

Pitt Dental / Periodontics 

Sarah Gaffen 

Host defense against infectious disease and autoimmunity. A subset of CD4+ T cells, known as "Th17 cells" based on production of the cytokine IL-17, plays a key role in driving autoimmunity. 

Pitt Med / Immunology 

Michael Gold 

Pain, Neurobiology of nociceptive afferents and their role in 

peripheral mechanisms of pain. 

Pitt Med / Neurobiology 

Rebecca Green 

Developmental Biology/Craniofacial Genetics. Understanding the relationships between genotype and phenotype in facial development. 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Eleanor Feingold 

Human Genetics. Genetic epidemiology of Alzheimer's, Down syndrome, and dental and craniofacial traits   

Pitt Public Health / Human Genetics 

Giuseppe Intini 

Tissue Engineering / Stem Cells/Cancer/Periodontal regeneration. Skeletal and cancer stem cells.  


Pitt Dental / Periodontics 

Ariadne Letra 

Craniofacial Genetics. Genetic basis of 

craniofacial and oral traits/conditions. Cellular and 

molecular mechanisms underlying complex craniofacial and oral conditions. 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Steve Little 

Drug Delivery/Tissue Regeneration  

Periodontal disease, 

Immunomodulation, Inflammation, Translational Research 

Pitt Engineering / Chemical Engineering 

Samantha Manna 

Craniofacial Genetics. Effects of genetic variations on complex traits and disease 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Mary Marazita 

Craniofacial Genetics. Genomics, etiology, and multi-omic studies of craniofacial birth defects and of oral health and disease in children and families 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Dobrawa Napierala 

Biology of Mineralized Tissues - Molecular regulation of the biomineralization process; molecular mechanisms and animal models of mineralized tissues diseases 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Hyun Jung (HJ) Park 

A. I. Meets Biology development of data-science techniques, AI-driven tools, and statistical inference methods to understand large-scale molecular dynamics.  

Pitt Public Health/Human Genetics 

John Shaffer 

Statistics and Bioinformatics in Human Genetics. Genetic contributors to common complex human diseases, including craniofacial birth defects and oral health and disease.  

Pitt Public Health/Human Genetics 

Charles Sfeir 

Tissue Regeneration/Mineralized tissues.  

Periodontal disease, Immunomodulation, Inflammation. 

Translational Research 

Pitt Dental / Periodontics 

Fatima Syed-Picard 

Scaffoldless Tissue Engineering / Stem Cells, nerve regeneration 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Juan Taboas 

Tissue Engineering of temporomandibular joint and dental pulp. Cell mechanobiology 

Translational Research 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 

Daniel Weeks 

Statistical genetics, both methodological and applied, aimed at exploring the genetics and 

epigenetics of complex human disease. 

Pitt Med / Human Genetics 

Seth Weinberg 

Craniofacial Genetics/Morphometry - Genetic epidemiology or craniofacial features and malformations; Morphometric studies of 

craniofacial morphology and variation 

Pitt Dental/Oral and Craniofacial Sciences 


Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhD 

PI and Co‐Director, Pittsburgh Craniofacial Sciences Training Program School of Dental Medicine


Mary L. Marazita, PhD 

Co‐Director, Pittsburgh Craniofacial Science Sciences Training Program School of Dental Medicine 



The Grant covers NRSA allowable tuition, Stipend, Health and Dental Benefits, and travel to support trainee research. 

Application Procedure

Please submit your application packet to Deb Haralam.