GC America Inc. Funds Research on Dental Materials for Aging Populations

Posted on August 8, 2017

GC America Inc. has provided a gift for the next three years to create the Kiyoshi Nakao Fund for Aging Population Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. “It is a current-use research fund for helping to support different projects dealing with the aging population and oral health issues,” said Dr. Clark Stanford, Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. 

Dr. Mark Heiss, Director of Regulatory and Academic Affairs, GC America Inc., said that the fund, “will be used to support research and education in topics such as MI (Minimum Intervention) dentistry, dental material research and collaboration with the objective to enhance oral health to this segment of the population.” 

Named for Mr. Kiyoshi Nakao, a former Chairman and President of GC Corporation and grandfather of Mr. Makoto Nakao, current Chairman of GC Corporation, the fund will immediately assist Dr. Ana Bedran-Russo, Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry, in her research “on ‘smart’ materials that actually self-heal and that can be used for restorations that can help stabilize or regenerate tooth structure,” Dr. Stanford said. He also noted that the interest of the parent company GC Corporation is appropriate because “Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world, and there are many oral health issues in the aging population.” 

“There has been much focus and discussion on the aging population in Japan,” explained Dr. Heiss. “Japan’s aging population has led to programs to promote good oral health in the elderly population. In the U.S. and globally it has been known that there is an oral-systemic health connection.” 

Dr. Stanford explained that GC Corporation Chairman, Mr. Makoto Nakao, is committed to helping the aging population. “That can be everything from preventive products to materials to tooth replacement, if needed,” Dr. Stanford noted. 

“We are looking to encourage new thoughts and concepts through this gift,” said Dr. Heiss. He continued, “GC Companies have been working with organizations such as Federation Dentaire International (FDI), the American Dental Association and Oral Health America to promote the importance of oral health.” He also explained that GC Companies value the longtime relationship Dr. Stanford and GC Companies have, going back to his father, Dr. John Stanford, and company Chairman Makoto Nakao, who were friends and colleagues. 

Dr. Heiss noted that Dr. Stanford provided his vision to GC America to provide education, training, and research on the subject of the aging population. This led to a win-win proposal for GC America to provide funding to promote this subject matter. In honor of Mr. Nakao’s grandfather, the fund was donated in the name of Kiyoshi Nakao. 

“I have long been fascinated by the remarkable robustness of dentin, which is very dynamic and will mature and modify due to aging and disease,” Dr. Bedran-Russo said. “My specific research interests include multi-functional roles of the dentin extracellular matrix on the strength and stability of dentin and the development of clinically applicable bioinspired strategies to preserve and restore dentin. The Kiyoshi Nakao Fund will provide the financial support needed to advance research into the etiological factors associated with the onset and progression of carious and non-carious cervical lesions with high prevalence in the elderly population,” she added. 

“When you look at medications that elderly people typically are taking, the number one side-effect is xerostomia (dry mouth) and that leads to an increase in tooth decay, especially as we get older,” Dr. Stanford said. “All materials fatigue, fracture, and eventually fail, but can we create materials that can in essence detect that potential failure and self-heal that fracture so it doesn’t propagate to a loss, something that needs to be redone?” he asked. 

“We hope to develop new therapies or protocols for the prevention and management of carious and non-carious cervical lesions at the highly susceptible root surfaces and ultimately preserve the natural dentition,” Dr. Bedran-Russo said. 

“This is an exciting new way to work with companies like GC Corporation and with foundations looking for areas where there is mutual trust and common goals,” Dr. Stanford said. “This is a collaboration with mutual goals in mind between the benefactor and the College and we are thankful to GC Corporation for the trust they have placed in us.” 

“We are so grateful to GC for providing the Kiyoshi Nakao Fund for Aging Population Studies to foster research at UIC that will impact not only our local efforts, but also have an impact on the oral health of a worldwide increasingly aging population,” Dr. Bedran-Russo concluded. 

In 2019, GC America will expand its training and research facility in Alsip, IL. “We hope to expand the current collaboration with UIC by providing additional venues for continuing education and dental student material science education,” Dr. Heiss concluded. 

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