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Bridges Program Leads to Research Position

Alumnus Gurpreet Singh at Stanford University

Feb. 17, 2015

As an undergraduate student, Gurpreet Singh got the opportunity to work in the forefront of dental research at Stanford University through Cal State Fullerton's Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program. His six-month internship involved working closely with researchers on designing and executing experiments to completion.

Thanks to his internship, Singh is now working as a research assistant at Stanford's Department of Surgery – Hagey Laboratory for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine.

"Our research focuses on several different areas of regeneration," said Singh '14 (B.S. biochemistry). As a scholar in the stem cell program, which is supported by a $2.6 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Singh said he learned what is expected in a research lab, such as how to apply for research funding, work with manufacturers on designing parts for experiments, and prepare manuscripts for publication in scientific journals.

"Being in the research field has given me the opportunity to combine my passion for science and technology to do experiments that are on the cutting edge and have real-world impact," he added. "One of the things that I enjoy the most about my job is that it affords me the opportunity to express my creativity."

Singh is working on research that focuses on tooth decay, or dental caries — a leading oral health problem — and improving dental implants.

"Traditionally, dental caries have been addressed by using age-old procedures, such as pulp capping and root canals," Singh explained. "Our research team has developed a novel way to reactivate our body's own stem cells to regenerate the tissue that is damaged by bacteria that leads to dental caries. As a result, we are able to circumvent the use of procedures, such as pulp capping and root canals, by enhancing the body's own defenses to combat the degeneration of dental tissues as a consequence of dental caries."

Another project he is working on involves a new method of providing stability to a dental implant so it is able to integrate into the surrounding bone with higher efficiency, said Singh, who aspires to earn a doctor of dentistry so that he can practice and lead research in the dental field.

His research experiences with Cal State Fullerton faculty mentors, coupled with the internship, helped him achieve his initial academic goals and prepare him for the workforce, as well as advance studies, he said.

"I had a long list of mentors at CSUF, including Dr. Barbara Gonzalez, who made a significant impact in my academic career. Much of my success I owe to her for realizing the potential that I had and providing me with opportunities that I did not know about. She has been there throughout the years to provide moral support, give advice and help me see the future possibilities."

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