Dr. Peter Ma wins prestigious Du Pont Award

February 16, 2000
Written By:
Nancy Ross-Flanigan

ANN ARBOR—Dr. Peter X. Ma, assistant professor in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, has won a prestigious DuPont Young Professor Award. It’s the first time in the 25-year history of the award that it has been presented to a faculty member at a dental school.

Ma was one of only 14 faculty members in the nation chosen by the DuPont Fellows Forum to receive the award. The $25,000 award, which will be considered for renewal for up to three years, is designed to help young faculty members launch their research careers within five years of becoming a full-time faculty member. The funds may also be used to obtain matching funds through the National Science Foundation’s Young Investigator Award program.

“Considering there were so many excellent nominees, I’m honored to be one of those receiving this prestigious award,” Ma said. “This recognition demonstrates the importance of the research being conducted at the U-M School of Dentistry and the potential our research has to create new products that could affect everyday life.”

The primary focus of Ma’s research is developing materials that have dental and medical applications. Some of these materials, such as restorative dental materials, are developed to directly replace the structure and function of damaged or diseased tissues or organs. Some are developed as scaffolding (matrix materials) for cells to grow on and develop into new tissues. As the new tissue develops, the special materials (scaffolds) degrade and resorb, leading to completely “natural” tissue replacement and/or regeneration.

Dr. Christian Stohler, chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, said, “This is an exceptional achievement. It vividly demonstrates that a research scientist in a dental school can have a major impact beyond the scope of dentistry.”

Dean William Kotowicz of the School said, “By winning this prestigious award, Dr. Ma has demonstrated the importance of the oral health research we are conducting. The award clearly shows that the School of Dentistry is a school of many talents—in classrooms, clinics, and laboratories. It shows our faculty is in the vanguard of conducting pioneering research that seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.”

Ma earned his bachelor’s degree in polymer chemistry at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. In 1992, he earned a Ph.D. in polymer science and engineering at Rutgers University and then became a postdoctoral research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since 1996, he has been an assistant professor in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences at the U-M School of Dentistry.

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Ma last year alone participated on two National Science Foundation panels, was an ad hoc reviewer for the Swiss National Science Foundation, and was a reviewer for the Society of Biomaterials. He has also presented papers at more than 70 scientific conferences worldwide, authored or co-authored more than 30 articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed publications, and has been invited to give two dozen lectures and seminars.

The U-M School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, and patient care. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the School to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction train future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia, and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. More information is available on the Web at http://www.dent.umich.edu.

orNancy Ross-Flanigan

Dr. Peter X. MaNational Science Foundation’sDr. Christian StohlerTsinghua UniversitySwiss National Science Foundationhttp://www.dent.umich.edu