Marcelle Nascimento, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Restorative Dental Sciences

College of Dentistry

2019 Awardee

Marcelle Nascimento’s work focuses on the problem of tooth decay among children. This condition is highly preventable but continues to be prevalent in the population.

“I trust that my research can positively impact science and improve patients’ oral health in the near future,” Nascimento said. “So I feel very luck to be in a profession that gives me great joy and sense of contribution to others.”

Nascimento’s scientific career has been dedicated to better understanding the etiological aspects of tooth decay by pursuing microbiology and molecular biology studies of the decay bacteria and health-associated commensals or interactions where one member of the species benefits.

To date, most efforts in caries research have been directed toward dental biofilms’ acid-producing and harmful properties. By contrast, Nascimento’s research projects investigate the potential of alkali production as an innovative strategy for assessing tooth decay risk and controlling tooth decay. Alkali production in the form of ammonia can neutralize the glycolytic acid produced by cariogenic bacteria, and thus prevent tooth decay. Her research group was the first to reveal that an increased caries risk is associated with reduced alkali-producing capacity of dental biofilms in children.

“We’re redirecting the attention from dental disease to dental health, and these studies have a high likelihood of leading to a major breakthrough in understanding the caries process and ultimately to novel clinical practice paradigms that incorporate alkali production into caries intervention,” Nascimento said.

Nascimento has an extensive number of active and productive collaborations with leaders in cariology research from the University of Michigan, Forsyth Institute, Brazilian institutions and the Departments of Oral Biology, Pediatric Dentistry, Community Dentistry and Restorative Dental Sciences at UF. In addition, she has two patents, one on an arginine containing dental adhesive material with potential anti-caries activity and the other on probiotic.

Nascimento has published extensively in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals. She has published over 40 manuscripts and one book chapter, and she is the first author on 22 papers published in leading cariology, microbiology and dental education journals. Her scientific accomplishments have been recognized internationally as demonstrated by her appointment to serve as president of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) – Cariology research group (2015-2016).