(DALLAS) – Dr. Paul Dechow, associate professor in biomedical sciences at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, recently received a National Science Foundation grant of $218,752 for “Integrative Analysis of Hominid Feeding.”

The project runs through August 2012 and involves a multidisciplinary and international team of scientists. The total budget of the linked individual awards is more than $1 million.

The project focuses on using advanced techniques of craniofacial biomechanical modeling, field observation of living primates and mechanical studies of food items in the diet of primates to study differences in craniofacial form among different species of australopithecines.

“This grant involves HSC-BCD in the forefront of studies of human evolution and greatly enriches the research portfolio of the Department of Biomedical Sciences,” said Dr. Rene D’Souza, department chair and professor. “We are fortunate to be included in the consortium that is taking this effort forward.”

Dr. Dechow’s portion of the study focuses on the material and structural properties of primate craniofacial skeletons and the in vitro testing of finite element models developed as part of the investigation. The grant program, “Human Origins: Moving in New Directions,” and commonly referred to as a “Hominid Award,” is the most prestigious award given by the NSF in the field of biological anthropology.

The program considers proposals for support of research pursued to enhance knowledge of the complex biological, physical and behavioral interrelationships that led to the development of our species and are responsible for both the shared and variable features that characterize living human populations.

“There has always been a significant overlap in methodology and content among the areas of biological anthropology, craniofacial growth and development, and clinical dentistry, which have led to the integrative area that is often called ‘dental anthropology’,” Dr. D’Souza said. “I applaud Dr. Dechow’s long-term dedication to the field and look forward to the success of this highly translational research that will undoubtedly add new research insights and applications for clinical dentistry.”

Founded in 1905, HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry at Dallas is a nationally recognized center for oral health sciences education, research, specialized patient care and continuing dental education.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

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