Skip to content Skip to navigation

D4 John Le chosen for year-long NIH research program

John Le

U-M dental students selected as medical research scholars in consecutive years

Ann Arbor, Mich., July 14, 2016 -- John Le, a D4 at the School of Dentistry, has been selected by the National Institutes of Health to participate in the 2016-17 Medical Research Scholars Program.  Le is one of only two dental students from across the country who will join 50 medical and veterinary students for the year-long, residential program at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.

The program places scholars in NIH laboratories and patient care areas to conduct cutting-edge translational or clinical research that matches the student’s career interests and research goals.  Paired with a research mentor from among NIH’s fulltime investigators, the students work on specific projects and present their research to the NIH community and at professional conferences.  They also attend lectures focused on career development, participate in clinical teaching rounds and take relevant courses.

Le is studying epithelial biology at U-M, but he plans to do additional research at the NIH on what he calls “a new topic of interest: bone regeneration.”  He was able to choose his NIH mentor and has been paired with Dr. Janice Lee at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in the Skeletal Diseases and Craniofacial Anomalies section.  “My research interests are to obtain the knowledge and critical thinking skills to question the unknown, and to discover new methods and techniques in addressing pressing obstacles in medicine today, whether it be with wound healing or bone regeneration,” Le said.

He applied for the program after receiving support from several School of Dentistry faculty members.  He has worked in the lab of his current mentors, Drs. Rogerio Castilho and Cristiane Squarize, since 2013, and also was encouraged to apply for the MRSP by Dr. William Giannobile, his guide in the school’s Pathways program.  Le learned of his acceptance two weeks after an interview in mid-March.  “I was ecstatic and excited to be selected to join a group of medical and dental colleagues from across the nation to work at the nation's largest hospital devoted to clinical research,” he said.

Le leaves for the NIH the last week of August. He will return to the School of Dentistry the following August to finish his final year of dental school before graduating in 2018, a year later than his original schedule.  His future goals are to complete a residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery, treat patients at an academic hospital, train future residents and perform translational research that will advance the field of oral and maxillofacial surgery.

As Le prepares to leave, another School of Dentistry student, Tarek Metwally, has just returned from the same NIH program to complete his fourth year and earn his DDS.  Metwally and Le are the second and third U-M dental students to be chosen for the program.  They join Robert Vander Broek (DDS 2014), who was selected for the 2012-13 scholars in the first year after NIH merged two previous programs into the MRSP.

The NIH started MRSP in 2012 as part of its goal to train the next generation of clinician-scientists and biomedical researchers.  “This year-long research enrichment program is very often the starting point for a successful research-oriented career,” said Dr. Frederick P. Ognibene, NIH clinical center deputy director for educational affairs and strategic partnerships. “These 52 scholars clearly represent future academic leaders and biomedical researchers in this country.”

The MRSP is co-sponsored by the NIH and other partners, including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the American Association for Dental Research, the Colgate-Palmolive Company, Genentech, alumni of student research programs and other individual supporters of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  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 prepare 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.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:
Sharon Grayden, Communications Director, at (734) 615-2600,, or Lynn Monson, Writer, at (734) 615-1971.