Research Activities: Dr. Drake’s current research interests are focused on severe early childhood caries in American Indian children. He has an NIH grant to study the transmission of specific genotypes of Streptococcus mutans (SM) from mother (or primary caregiver) to child. As part of his study, he has established collaboration with an American Indian Tribe, resulting in their first research contract with an investigator at the University of Iowa. His field team consists of a study director and senior dental hygienist, two additional dental hygienists, a research assistant, a recruiter, and an office administrator – all Native and resident on the Reservation. Plaque samples are taken from children when they are approximately one month old and thereafter every four months until the child reaches three years of age. Plaque samples are also taken from the mothers and primary caregivers on the same timeline. Samples are expressed shipped to Dr. Drake’s laboratory where comprehensive analyses of the microflora are undertaken, complete with DNA fingerprinting of SM isolates to determine profiles of transmission of specific genotypes. In addition to analysis of the microflora, extensive survey instruments are being used by colleagues in the College of Dentistry to assess the dietary components and habits of families, resulting in profiles that will be analyzed to determine the impact of diet on transmission and establishment of SM genotypes in children. Finally, comprehensive dental exams of the children and mothers are performed at each visit to follow the oral health of the families.
Biography Updated on 4 July 2010