Ostrow grad wins American Association of Orthodontists award
Capping 11 years at USC, George Abichaker ’05, DDS ’09, MS ’12 received the 2012 Charley Schultz Resident Scholar Award from the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). He accepted the award at the association’s annual session last month.
Recognizing clinical or basic science research by an advanced orthodontics resident, the accolade is Abichaker’s eighth award for outstanding scientific investigation.
The Schultz Award honored Abichaker for his work on cytomegalovirus and its affects on embryonic tooth development, a project that comprised his master’s thesis. His findings showed that a cytomegalovirus infection can negatively affect the development of teeth in a growing embryo and that the damage depended on the embryo’s stage of development and the duration of the infection.
Abichaker, who graduated from USC with a bachelor’s in business administration and a minor in natural sciences, began his research career and his relationship with the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC during his junior year. That fall, he began work in the developmental genetics laboratory of professors Michael Melnick and Tina Jaskoll after reading about their work online.
Over the years, as Abichaker completed the Doctor of Dental Surgery program, followed by a residency in orthodontics and a master’s in craniofacial biology, he remained at work in the lab, his responsibilities growing from day-to-day laboratory tasks to co-authoring eight published scientific articles.
Besides his many research awards from the Ostrow School and professional organizations, Abichaker has also presented his work at several national and international professional meetings.
Abichaker, who will be entering private practice in orthodontics, said his research experiences have been “an escape from everyday clinical dentistry” and have informed his clinical perspective.
“It’s helped me look at research more objectively,” he said. “Being able to understand research helps in health care. There are a lot of new advances and new ideas to be on top of.”
Abichaker also shared advice for fellow students looking to get involved in research.
“Start early. Find out which faculty are doing research and look up their work on PubMed and Google Scholar,” he said. “And be committed. You need to spend many hours each week doing research if you want to achieve something with it.”