Oral Biology Faculty
Margaret Jergenson, D.D.S.
Dr. Jergenson received her D.D.S. degree in 1982 from Creighton University. After practicing general dentistry in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and in St. Paul, Minnesota, she joined the School of Dentistry faculty in 1993. Dr. Jergenson teaches General Gross Anatomy and Head and Neck Anatomy and is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Oral Biology.
Phone: (402) 280-5057
Laura C. Barritt, B.S., Ph.D.
Dr. Barritt received a B.S. degree from Carroll College in Wisconsin and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Following an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the Boystown National Research Hospital, she joined the faculty of the School of Dentistry in 1998. Dr. Barritt serves as the course director for General Histology, Oral Histology and Embryology, and Cell Biology. Her area of research focuses on the role of extracellular matrix proteins and G-proteins during inner ear development.
Phone: (402) 280-5212
D. Roselyn Cerutis, B.S., Ph.D.
Dr. Cerutis received a B.S. degree in Chemistry and a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. After postdoctoral training in virology at the University of Missouri-Columbia and neuropharmacology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), she served as Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine (Neurology Section) at UNMC. Dr. Cerutis joined the faculty at the Creighton University School of Dentistry in 1998. Her research focuses on G protein-coupled lipid growth factor (lysophospholipid) receptor signaling in the context of periodontal disease and oral wound healing, as well as cytokine regulation of G protein-coupled receptors. She is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Oral Biology and Pharmacology.
Dr. Cerutis has primary teaching responsibility for pre-clinical freshman dental students. She serves as course director for Biochemistry and lecturer in Human Physiology and Human Neuroscience, and also lectures in Pharmacology to sophomores. Dr. Cerutis serves as a freshman student advisor, and mentor for student research projects.
Dr. Cerutis’ laboratory is focused on the signaling and biology of a lipid growth factor, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), and its receptors (LPA receptors). The long-term goal of this research is to better understand the biology of LPA signaling in the context of inflammation /periodontal disease and oral wound healing. Together with our basic science and clinical collaborators, we are particularly interested in the future use of selected LPA agonist compounds for periodontal wound healing, and are continuing our research in that direction.
Dr. Cerutis also participates in dental materials-based research with students, faculty, and visiting Fellows.
Selected peer-reviewed journal publications are listed below:
- George J, Headen KV, Ogunleye AO, Perry GA, Wilwerding TM, Parrish LC, McVaney TP, Mattson JS, Cerutis DR. Lysophosphatidic Acid signals through specific lysophosphatidic acid receptor subtypes to control key regenerative responses of human gingival and periodontal ligament fibroblasts. J Periodontol. 2009 Aug;80(8):1338-47. PMID: 19656035
- Cerutis DR, Dreyer AC, Vierra MJ, King JP, Wagner DJ, Fimple JL, Cordini F, McVaney TP, Parrish LC, Wilwerding TM, Mattson JS. Lysophosphatidic acid modulates the healing responses of human periodontal ligament fibroblasts and enhances the actions of platelet-derived growth factor. J Periodontol. 2007 Jun;78(6):1136-45. PMID: 17539729
- Cerutis DR, Dreyer A, Cordini F, McVaney TP, Mattson JS, Parrish LC, Romito L, Huebner GR, Jabro M. Lysophosphatidic acid modulates the regenerative responses of human gingival fibroblasts and enhances the actions of platelet-derived growth factor. J Periodontol. 2004 Feb;75(2):297-305. PMID: 15068119
Dr. Cerutis has served on a series of All-University and Dental School committees, and has served terms as a member of the All-University Faculty Council. Currently she serves as Chair of the Academic Freedom and Responsibility Committee.
Phone: (402) 280-5033
Neil S. Norton, B.A., Ph.D.
Dr. Norton is originally from Hampton, Virginia. He received his B.A. degree from Randolph-Macon College and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Norton joined the faculty of the School of Dentistry in 1996 and is currently an Associate Professor of Oral Biology, Biomedical Sciences, and Pharmacology.
Dr. Norton is a tenured faculty member with primary responsibility for teaching Gross Anatomy lecture and laboratory, Head & Neck Anatomy lecture and laboratory, and Human Neuroscience lecture to pre-clinical Freshman dental students. Lecture instruction is also given for Pain Control to Sophomores, Anti-Parkinson Pharmacology to Juniors, and Advanced Anatomy electives to Seniors. Additional teaching responsibilities include instruction in the Master’s Program in Clinical Anatomy offered by the School of Medicine. Dr. Norton also serves as a mentor for various student research projects and as a Freshman student advisor. He has received over 18 Teaching awards at Creighton including Outstanding Freshman Instructor, Preclinical Instruction by Senior classes, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Teaching Achievement by the Creighton Student Union; the highest teaching award given by Creighton University, and the GlaxoSmithKline Sensodyne Teaching Award in 2007; the highest national award given by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).
Dr. Norton’s research activities include various basic science and dental materials based projects. He has received two Health Futures Foundation grants and served as a student mentor on two NIH student training grants. Dr. Norton has presented work at national and international meetings, authored over 80 Abstracts, 3 book chapters, and currently have published, or in press, 23 peer reviewed articles. In 2003, he was an author on Presidential Award presentation by the American Association of Clinical Anatomists along with Drs. Alan Richards and Thomas Quinn. Dr. Norton’s most significant work is the book, Netter’s Head & Neck Anatomy for Dentistry. Currently, this text has been translated into 5 languages and he is working on the 2nd edition. Recently, Dr. Norton published Netter’s Advanced Head & Neck Anatomy Flash Cards through Elsevier, a 248 card set designed for advanced health professionals and Netter’s Advanced Head & Neck Anatomy Flash Cards for the iPod/iTouch.
Dr. Norton has served on a series of All-University and Dental School committees. Currently he serves as the President of the University Faculty and has previously served terms as Secretary of the All-University Faculty Council. Dr. Norton has served as Chair on the University Committee on Rank & Tenure, Academic Freedom & Responsibility Committee, and Committee on Committees. Dr. Norton has been a member of the Admissions Committee since 1997 and has taken numerous recruitment trips on behalf of the School of Dentistry. Dr. Norton is actively involved in the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) and currently serves as the Treasurer. Recently stepped down from his role as an Associate Editor of the Elsevier journal xPharm, a peer reviewed journal of pharmacology. An active member of ADEA, Dr. Norton was selected as a member in the ADEA Leadership Institute for the Class of 2007 and currently serves as the chair-elect of the Anatomical Sciences section of ADEA.
Phone: (402) 280-5002
Sonia M. Rocha-Sanchez, Ph.D.
Dr. Rocha-Sanchez is originally from Brazil. She received her B.A. degree from Federal University of Acre, a M.S. degree in Genetics from Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), and her Ph.D. degree from the Universities of Campinas (UNICAMP/Brazil) and Granada (UGr/Spain). Following a one year postdoctoral training in the Creighton University Osteoporosis Research Center and a NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the Biomedical Sciences Department, Dr. Rocha-Sanchez joined the faculty of the School of Dentistry in 2006 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Oral Biology and Biomedical Sciences.
Dr. Rocha-Sanchez is a tenure-track faculty member with primary responsibility for teaching Human Physiology. Lecture instruction also includes Dental Histology for Freshman Dental students, as well as Graduate School level Directed Independent Research and Journal Club in the Biomedical Sciences Department. Dr. Rocha-Sanchez also serves as a mentor for various student research projects and as a Freshman and Graduate School (MS and PhD) students advisor.
Unlike lower vertebrates, adult mammalian hair cells (HC) do not proliferate and HC death leads to irreversible neurosensory hearing loss and balance impairment. Dr. Rocha-Sanchez’s current research is focused on understanding the role of cell cycle control genes in the HC-associated supporting cells’ proliferation as a potential alternative for HC regeneration. Her laboratory has received grants from the Deafness Research Foundation (DRF), National Organization for Hearing Research (NORH), and NIH-sponsored Center of Biomedical research Excellence (COBRE). Dr. Rocha-Sanchez current research is funded by an R03 grant from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD; Rocha-Sanchez, PI) and a P20 Institutional Development grant (NIH/NICRR/) headed by Dr. Shelly Smith (UNMC). Dr. Rocha-Sanchez has authored over 20 peer reviewed articles in high profile journals and numerous abstracts. She has received several awards including the “High Quality Graduate Research and Publications” (UFV/MG, Brazil, 2001; UNICAMP, SP, Brazil, 2002) and Cell and Structural Biology’s “Distinguished Dissertation Award” (UNICAMP, SP, Brazil, 2002).
CURRENT LAB MEMBERS
Laura Scheetz, B.S. in Biology, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa - Research Laboratory Technician
Joseph Miller, B.S. Exercise Sciences, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington - Graduate Student
Dr. Rocha-Sanchez is currently member of the All-University Committee on Lectures, Films, and Concerts, as well as the Faculty and Academic Councils. She also serves on the Dental School Research Committee, Strategic Planning and Assessment Committee, Building Safety Committee, and is an active member of the Creighton University Latino-American Employee Network. Dr. Rocha-Sanchez is member of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO), American Association for Dental Research (AADR), American Dental Education Association (ADEA), and Nebraska Physiological Society (NPS). Among other service activities, Dr. Rocha-Sanchez has served as Ad hoc referee for the journal Cytogenetics and Genome Research, and National Science Foundation (NSF).
Office Phone: (402)-280-5098
Lab Phone: (402)-280-4825
Michael D. Weston, Ph.D.
Dr. Weston received a B.S. in Biology from Kearney State College (1985) and a M.A. in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (1988) and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Creighton University (2004). Dr. Weston joined the faculty of the School of Dentistry in May of 2009 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Oral Biology.
Dr. Weston is a full-time member of the Teaching-Research Faculty on a non-tenure track with lectures in Biochemistry (ORB111) and Physiology (ORB141).
Dr. Weston’s research is currently focused on conducting molecular and genetic studies using novel transgenic mice to discover evolutionary conserved small RNA molecule (i.e. microRNAs) regulation in sensory cells, particularly sensory cells in the ear. Other classes of gene regulators are known to affect sensory cell genesis and stability, so one question is whether microRNAs have the same capacity to dictate sensory cell structure and/or function. Information learned from these studies will add new knowledge to the fields of sensory cell regeneration, small RNA therapeutics and may establish certain microRNAs as differential biomarkers of developmental and disease states. Dr. Weston has received grants from the Deafness Research Foundation (DRF), the NIH/NIDCD (F32 individual training fellowship) and is a junior investigator on a NIH/NCRR sponsored Center of Biomedical Research Excellence grant (CoBRE, PI Shelly Smith, UNMC). Dr. Weston has collaborated in 46 peer reviewed publications and has presented numerous scientific meeting abstracts.
Weston MD, Soukup,GA, MicroRNAs sound off. Genome Med 2009; 1(6):59.
Soukup,GA, Fritzsch B, Pierce ML, Weston MD, Jahan I, McManus M, and Harfe BD. Residual microRNA expression dictates the extent of inner ear development in conditional Dicer knockout mice. Dev Biol 2009; 328(2):328-41.
Pierce ML, Weston MD, Fritzsch B, Gabel HW, Ruvkun G, Soukup GA. MicroRNA-183 family conservation and ciliated neurosensory organ expression. Evol Dev 2008; 10(1):106-113.
Weston MD, Pierce ML, Rocha-Sanchez S, Beisel KW, and Soukup GA. MicroRNA gene expression in the mouse inner ear. Brain Res 2006; 1111(1):95-104.
Johnson KR, Zheng QY, Weston MD, Ptacek LJ, Noben-Trauth K. The Mass1frings mutation underlies early onset hearing impairment in BUB/BnJ mice, a model for the auditory pathology of Usher syndrome IIC. Genomics 2005; 85(5):582-590.
Weston MD, Luijendijk MW, Humphrey KD, Moller C, Kimberling WJ. Mutations in the VLGR1 gene implicate G-protein signaling in the pathogenesis of Usher syndrome type II. Am J Hum Genet 2004; 74(2):357-366.
Dr. Weston is a member of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO).
Phone: (402) 280-5030