Brazilian Dentist Conducting Fulbright Fellowship at OU College of Dentistry
Delayed but not stopped by the pandemic, a dentist from Brazil is conducting a Fulbright research fellowship in the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, where he’s investigating novel nanofilled tooth-bleaching agents – one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in dental offices – with the aim of developing and characterizing novel materials that do not compromise the tooth structure.
Matheus Kury Rodrigues, D.D.S., M.S., was one of only 26 Brazilian Ph.D. candidates from that country granted a Fulbright Award to study in the United States in 2020.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored through the U.S. government. Designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, the program provides participants (chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential) the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Since its inception in 1946, over 400,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program.
“The Division of Dental Biomaterials is very proud to have such a strong collaboration with the Department of Dental Materials from the State University of Campinas School of Dentistry at Piracicaba, Brazil,” said Assistant Professor Fernando Esteban Florez, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D. “During his visit, Dr. Kury will be working on the synthesis, characterization and testing of experimental dental bleaching agents containing bioactive metaloxide nanoparticles developed by Dr. Sharukh Khajotia [OU College of Dentistry associate dean for research and innovation] and myself. We are very happy to have Dr. Kury working with us, he is a brilliant young investigator and we are confident that his work will be perceived as a very strong and meaningful contribution to the field of dental biomaterials.”
Following the delay due to COVID-19, Kury started his nine-month intensive program as a Visiting Scholar Researcher in the College of Dentistry’s Division of Dental Biomaterials in March 2021. Under the direction of Esteban Florez, he is conducting research on the fabrication of nanobleaching agents to whiten teeth. Working with Esteban Florez and others in the division, he is gaining experience working in advanced microscope techniques and high throughput bioluminescence assays.
A native of Porto Alegre, the southernmost state capital city of Brazil, Kury earned his doctorate in dental surgery from the Rio Grande do Sul Federal University in 2016. He earned his master’s degree in dental clinics, with an emphasis in operative dentistry, from the State University of Campinas Piracicaba Dental School in Brazil (known as UNICAMP) in 2019. While pursuing his doctorate, Kury was awarded a Science Without Borders scholarship from the Brazilian government to study at the University of Sydney, Australia, for a year and a half. He practiced for almost a year as a dentist before deciding to pursue his doctoral degree at UNICAMP in 2019.
In 2019, Kury made his first visit to the OU College of Dentistry.
“The outstanding and unique set of expertise, laboratory facilities and equipment offered at the Dental Biomaterials Division was one the main factors that aroused my interest in coming here,” he said. “Working with Dr. Esteban Florez as my mentor at OU became a very exciting plan because he could offer me the necessary support and guidance to catapult my research skills toward an independent research career. The extraordinary work that Drs. Esteban Florez and Khajotia have been performing on the development and incorporation of nanoparticles in dental biomaterials, as well as on the development and validation of novel microbiology assays, are paramount for the successful completion of my Ph.D. dissertation.”
Immediately after his return from this initial visit to the OU College of Dentistry, Kury began working on the highly competitive application process to apply for the Fulbright program.
“I am very grateful for the reception I have received from all the professors, staff and students,” he said. “As increasing the mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries is one of the main missions of the Fulbright Program, I am very happy to share all the things I’ve learned in Brazil with the OUHSC community and vice-versa. Since Fulbrighters are expected to engage with public health-related issues that require innovation, creativity and knowledge, there is no doubt that this is going to be a once-in-a-life-time opportunity and that I found at OU, which is a remarkable place to fulfill my goals.”
By Jerri Culpepper
Article Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2021