"We need to challenge ourselves to find even more innovative and effective ways of doing biomedical research and converting that into cures."
Lawrence A. Tabak (1951– )
Lawrence A. Tabak has been at the forefront of dental research since his student days at Columbia. Currently the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health, he heads a team of 450 scientists, administrators, and support staff with an approximate annual budget of $383 million. Under Tabak's leadership, the Institute is funding research on ways of preventing tooth decay, the use of adult stem cells to heal bone fractures and defects, the transfer of replacement genes into the salivary glands for therapeutic purposes, periodontal disease as a possible risk factor in premature birth, and pain management. Tabak has published extensively on the structure, biosynthesis, and function of salivary mucins, the pathogenesis of salivary gland disease and dysfunction, and the use of saliva as a diagnostic fluid. His current research focuses on sugars that are essential for normal embryonic development, play significant roles in both innate and acquired immunity, and play important structural roles in membrane-bound proteins.