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PhD student receives research grant from CEW+

Ann Arbor, Mich., May 6, 2019 -– A School of Dentistry PhD student researching gender differences in tumor growth and therapies for treating head and neck cancer has received a grant from the University of Michigan CEW+.

Ligia Schmitd received a $4,500 grant from the organization’s Riecker Graduate Student Research Fund. It offers grants for student-designed, student-conducted academic research on issues of importance to women. The awards are intended for U-M graduate students who are doing degree-required dissertation or thesis research.

Schmitd joined the dental school’s Oral Health Sciences PhD program in 2017. Working with Professor Nisha D’Silva, Schmitd is researching how head and neck cancer spreads in the body. It is the sixth most common cancer globally. Despite receiving aggressive therapies, patients have poor survival rates. The grant will be used to fund research investigating the extent to which tumors exhibit gender-specific differences in growth and response to treatment. “We expect that our findings will have a broader impact on preclinical studies for head and neck cancer, increasing awareness that males and females could respond differently to the same therapy,” Schmitd said in her grant application. “These studies could improve the design of clinical trials and enhance the success of new treatments in women.”

Schmitd, who earned her DDS degree at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, has published two first-author papers during her first year at the dental school PhD program and recently had a third paper accepted for publication. She also presented her research last year at a meeting of the American Association of Dental Research.

CEW+, formerly known at the Center for the Education of Women, offers many types of grants and scholarships. The Riecker Fund is named for Ranny Riecker, a former member of the organization’s Leadership Council, who established the fund in 2007. CEW+ said the fellowship “funds students doing research of importance to women and has increased CEW+’s ability to support emerging scholars, enabling them to collaborate with, and learn from, experienced researchers.”

CEW+ provides immediate and ongoing services and the financial support needed to ensure educational success and degree completion. Women and underserved students are CEW+’s primary constituency, but all students are welcome. CEW+ also serves those who encounter education and career obstacles based on their non-linear paths to, and experiences within, the university community. Funding for its scholarships and fellowships comes from individuals, organizations, clubs and foundations. More information about CEW+ is available on its website

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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: www.dent.umich.edu.  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at dentistry.communications@umich.edu, or (734) 615-1971.