Sarah B. Peters, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor

University at Albany, 2002, Atmospheric Science

University at Albany, 2014, Biology


My interest in craniofacial biology began during my graduate studies at the University at Albany. With Dr. Melinda Larsen, I investigated the role of the mechanical environment and transforming growth factor beta (TGF β) signaling on salivary gland development, starting in 2008. My research now focuses on how bone and tooth mesenchymal progenitors communicate with the nervous system to promote innervation and tissue repair during development and repair. My goal is work within the tissue engineering/regenerative medicine field to pursue the improvement of human health with elegant techniques developed in laboratories.

Research Interests

I am interested in how peptidergic neurons communicate with dental pulp stem cells during early postnatal development to create a sensory tooth. I'm similarly interested in how an injury affects this communication in an adult tooth to help maintain and repair the tooth organ. Most recently, I've begun to research how teeth age and if this differs between males and females. Unlike bones, teeth become more calcified as we age, which affects the axonal afferents within the pulp chambers. While it is well known that women experience more bone loss with age than men do, the dental community has not investigated the hormonal effect on teeth aging. My laboratory proposes to investigate both hormonal and aging effects on tooth health and phenotype using rodent models and to collaborate with clinicians to investigate this in humans as well.

Research Summary

Since teeth are exposed to environmental stimuli, tooth innervation is crucial to their protection and usage throughout the life of an organism. The tooth is primarily innervated with sensory nerve fibers from the trigeminal ganglion that protect the tooth organ by relaying noxious stimuli. The dental pulp (DP) secretes neurotrophic factors to guide axonal penetration and sprouting within the tooth during postnatal development in a highly regulated manner. With age, Dentin increases in thickness due to ongoing dentinogenesis, leading to nerve fiber and odontoblast regression into an increasingly smaller DP chamber. This reduces tooth sensitivity and injury responses, leading to a high prevalence of dental caries between the ages of 35 and 64. With the advent of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, regenerative endodontics has quickly gained attention and has shown promising results in human clinical trials. We have developed preclinical models to investigate the regenerative potential of teeth between the sexes and with age. Such information will enhance our understanding of the complex interplay of mesenchymal-neuronal interactions in the tooth that could serve as a basis for future preventative, therapeutic, and regenerative strategies in endodontics and improve the preservation of teeth.

Research Support

4/2018-current: K99/R00 Mechanisms regulating afferent innervation in the dental pulp

Sarah Peters
Office Address

4165 Postle Hall
305 W. 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Lab Phone
Lab Address

4178 Postle Hall
43210 OH

Academic Division