TCOP’s Dr. Zvi Loewy Wins Prosthodontics Journal Award

Honorarium Will Fund Award in Honor of Late Collaborator Dr. Steven Offenbacher

January 09, 2020
Touro College of Pharmacy's Dr. Zvi Loewy received an award from the Journal of Prosthodontics.
Touro College of Pharmacy's Dr. Zvi Loewy received an award from the Journal of Prosthodontics.

Dr. Zvi Loewy of Touro College of Pharmacy is a co-author and corresponding author of a paper that has received the Basic Scientific Research Award from the Journal of Prosthodontics. The paper received one of three awards (the other two awards were for Clinical Science Research and for Best Case Report) in the Journal of Prosthodontics’s first ever awards program. Papers eligible for the awards had to be published in the Journal over the last year and were selected by the editors for their quality of research, writing, and scientific merit as well as their relevance to prosthodontics.

Dr. Loewy, Associate Dean of Research, and Professor of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, at TCOP, co-authored the paper with Dr. Steven Offenbacher, WR Kenan Distinguished Professor and former chair of the Department of Periodontology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. The study was the result of several years of research between them two men. The bulk of the work was split between Dr. Loewy’s laboratory at TCOP in Harlem and Dr. Offenbacher’s lab in North Carolina.

The paper, “Differential Mucosal Gene Expression Patterns in Candida-Associated, Chronic Oral Denture Stomatitis,” examined the genome of oral cavity inflammation. “We looked at patients who complained about inflammations in their oral cavity, and we compared them to patients with normal oral cavity tissue,” said Dr. Loewy. “We analyzed the entire human genome and discovered that over 3,000 genes are affected by the inflammation out of the total 25-30,000 genes in the genome itself. Ultimately, if we’re to deal with inflammation correctly, we need to understand the pathways it operates in.”

The award, however, was bittersweet. Dr. Offenbacher, Loewy’s longtime collaborator, died suddenly in August 2018. The two struck up a friendship after they met at a conference several years ago.

“We hit it off,” said Dr. Loewy. “We decided to collaborate together. The amount of papers and the quality of papers we did together was extremely strong and beneficial to both of our laboratories.”

Dr. Loewy said that the partnership eventually blossomed into a personal friendship.

“Whenever we had an occasion to get together or go out for dinner, we’d take it,” recalled Dr. Loewy. “Even when we didn’t meet formally or present together at conferences, we would find the time to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Science can’t be done in a vacuum and it’s immensely gratifying when you find someone who you can work with. You don’t always have the perfect idea initially, but when you have someone with whom you can hone your idea or help you mature it, that’s when you hit something big.”

While the two had completed dozens of studies in the past, Dr. Loewy said that this study was a milestone, encompassing years of research and previous studies. Dr. Loewy will be using the honorarium to seed two research awards: one for a graduating research track TCOP student and another for a graduating student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Dentistry.

“Dr. Steven Offenbacher personified who we would like our students to be,” concluded Dr. Loewy. “He was a superb clinician committed to making advances in science in a very ethical manner. He was a brilliant scientist, but also a personable individual with whom you could share a laugh. He motivated his students and his faculty to produce the best kind of work. The best tribute to Dr. Offenbacher’s memory is getting the next generation involved in research. The person who receives this award will learn about Dr. Offenbacher. Even in his death, he will continue to inspire.”