Kyle Holmberg, a student within the School of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota, is among an elite group of medical, dental and veterinary scholars conducting research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington, D.C. Due to his impressive work in the field of dental and craniofacial research, Holmberg is the first student to be featured as an AHC Gamechanger.
Holmberg is between his third and fourth year of study within the School of Dentistry, and is part of the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) at NIH, which is comprised of 45 distinguished students working on basic science lab and clinical projects.
“This year is a great opportunity to further my research training,” Holmberg said about the experience in D.C. “I’m considering academics in the future and it’s important for me to have mentorship along the way.”
Upon their arrival in August to NIH, students were given several weeks to decide where they would conduct their research for the yearlong program. Holmberg was attracted to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and now spends his time delving into salivary gland development and cell biology.
He is particularly interested in adult progenitor cells present in adult salivary glands, especially ones that become stem cell-like, helping to regenerate or repair missing gland functions.
These advancements are essential to cancer patients who may have lost or damaged part of the gland due to treatments.
Considering his past biomaterials research looking at surfaces that can interact with biological environments, Holmberg plans to combine his clinical training and research interests to begin developing synthetic and therapeutic materials to repair missing tissue.
“Right now, materials to repair craniofacial tissues come from cadavers or are taken from other parts of the body but these procedures come with risks,” said Holmberg. “In the future, synthetic and biological materials used to help repair or replace missing tissue will be important in improving patient outcomes.”
Holmberg’s promising research and early dedication to the field of dental and cranial reconstruction is what makes him this week’s AHC Gamechanger.