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Contact Et Staff
University Scholars Program
SEnter Search Terms
2001 - 2002 University Scholar
Mentor: Ann Progquske-Fox
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is learning to care for them herself.
"It's kind of funny, but I have never had a cavity
until now," she says. "I was looking at my teeth in
the mirror recently and said 'Oh my goodness, I think
I have a cavity I grabbed my tools and examined it,
and it was a cavity. I was so embarrassed."
Liliana does not have to worry much about the opinion of her at dentistry school. Upon
graduating from UF in May with a BS in microbiology and cell science, the straight-A
student was snapped up by the College of Dentistry when she submitted her first
application. "The dean called me up the day after my interview and said they would like
to make me an offer," she says. "I thought, 'Great, now I can cancel all my other
interviews.' I really wanted to stay at UF."
Liliana believes she owes her success to the University Scholars Program. She says
conducting research as an undergraduate put her a cut above the other applicants. "It
helped a lot," she says. "In my major, you have classes about research, but you don't
actually do any research. If you are planning to go into a professional school or pursue a
PhD, doing research as a USP scholar is an excellent opportunity. It definitely helped me
get into dental school. People were impressed by it. They wanted to know all about my
In the USP, Liliana studied the bacteria that causes periodontal disease and, in some
instances, has led to cardiovascular disease. She examined a DNA gene in the bacteria,
technically referred to as adenine methylase, and was able to extract the gene from the
bacteria to obtain a mutated version. The ultimate goal of the research is to create a
vaccine to ward off diseases.
"If you can make a vaccine targeting this gene, you can knock out a lot of the bacteria in
your mouth and also some of the bacteria that causes cardiovascular disease," says
Liliana. "We worked on this project for two years and finally got the mutant. One time I
had it, but the slides were contaminated, and I had to start over. Research can be
frustrating. Now that we have the mutant, we can test it. But as soon as we were ready
to do so, I started to dental school, and I no longer have time to work on the research
Liliana presented a poster of her USP work at the International Association for Dental
Research this past summer. She says after she completes her first few years of dentistry
school, she hopes to have time to go back and continue her work on the project.
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@ University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; (352) 846-2032.