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Dr. Carmen J. Buxó Martínez is a researcher and full time Assistant Professor at the faculty of the School of Dental Medicine within the Office of the Dean of Research at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Environmental Health at the UPR Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Buxó received her undergraduate education at the UPR (BS) where she majored in General Sciences. She also studied a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH), and a Post-Doctoral Master in Clinical Research (MSc) at the UPR.
Dr. Buxó is an active member of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), member and secretary of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) Puerto Rico Section, a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), a member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and a member of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). During her academic and research career development, Dr. Buxó has been recognized by several awards such as: Diversity Supplement training grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIH Scholar Fellowship to study the Post-Doctoral Master in Clinical Research, Lois Cohen International Award from the Behavioral, Epidemiological and Health Services Research Group of the IADR at Barcelona, Spain, Academic Excellence Award of the UPR Graduate School of Public Health for her doctoral studies, and a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the UPR-MD Anderson Cancer Center Partners in Cancer Research.
Dr. Buxó has worked in the field of oral health disparities (oral cancer and oral clefts) with a research team that include epidemiologists, biostatisticians and content experts at the UPR School of Dental Medicine with collaborations at the New York University, University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh, University of Washington, and the University of Iowa. Her career goals are to expand her knowledge about craniofacial genetics to understand the complex etiology and clinical sub-phenotypic traits of orofacial clefts, develop experience in craniofacial imaging and molecular techniques. She has established collaborations with the “Rostro, Cuerpo y Alma-Niños Especiales” which is a community foundation for parents of children with craniofacial birth defects in Puerto Rico. Dr. Buxó provides health education conferences at monthly community meetings and volunteers at the foundation’s research committee. Dr. Buxó continues fostering community involvement by providing health education materials to promote the use of folic acid during pregnancy and adequate prenatal care. She also currently teaches epidemiology and statistics courses at the UPR School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Buxó has served as mentor of undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students at the UPR in oral cancer and oral clefts research. She encourages students to engage in research early in their academic development. Dr. Buxó currently looks forward to student (high school – post-doc) participation in her research study as a tool to contribute fostering research education and careers in Puerto Ricans. Students interested in a research experience in the FaceGenes study may contact Dr. Buxó at 787-620-5729.
The percentage of Hispanic doctoral scientists in the U.S. is very low. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reported in 2008 that only 1.4% of all employed doctoral scientists and engineers are Hispanic women. Hispanics constitute 15% of the nation’s total population and 48% of Hispanics are women. I plan to conduct future independent research in craniofacial defects, which will contribute to the public health of Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic populations as well. I was granted a K99/R00 award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) that will allow me to get additional training and experience in genetic and nutritional epidemiology. The training aims proposed are designed to acquire a comprehensive understanding of conducting genetic and environmental etiologic studies of oral clefts, which are prevalent in the Puerto Rican population. The K99 will contribute towards the NIH goal to address the issue of diversity within the national scientific workforce.
I started in the research path at an early point in my academic development. During high school I participated in science fairs and science bowls to nurture my curiosity into research exploration. In college, I took advantage of summer trainings opportunities to work in research projects exposing myself to different disciplines in biological sciences. I complemented my knowledge with public health training by attaining a Master in Public Health (MPH). I had the opportunity to meet and work with my long-time mentor as Research Coordinator for an NIDCR-funded study. This mentor encouraged me to complete the Doctor in Public Health (DrPH). I joined the research faculty in 2010 to motivate young health professionals and clinicians into oral health research. I served as Project Director for an NIH-funded study to evaluate the effects of maternal oral health on adverse maternal-fetal outcomes in gestational diabetes women in Puerto Rico (PR). This study provided the opportunity to participate in the development of a clinical trial. I completed a Post-Doctoral Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSc), received an NIH training fellowship, and participated in a variety of clinical research activities and seminars. I worked to develop my research project by studying MTHFR Polymorphisms and oral clefts in Puerto Ricans. The study included Dr. Jeffrey Murray as mentor from the University of Iowa (UI), an expert in studying the genomics of oral clefts. He submitted a Diversity Supplement to his NIDCR R37 grant, which allocated funds and protected my time for a pilot project about the genetic risk factors of oral clefts in Puerto Rican children. I had the opportunity to complement project with support from the PR Clinical and Translational Research Consortium (PRCTRC) Pilot Projects Program. The pilot project funding has provided learning opportunities in genotyping and sequencing methods. These experiences also have nurtured collaborations with the University of Pittsburgh (UP) and Utah State University (USU) gathering the group of expert mentors for the K99.
I am currently an Assistant Professor at the UPR School of Dental Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health. I teach graduate courses on research methods and biostatistics and serve as mentor for graduate dental students. I am voluntary member and part of the research committee of the “ROSTRO” Foundation dedicated to help children with craniofacial defects in PR. I have the opportunity to complement K99 with support from the Hispanic Clinical and Translational Research Education and Career Development (HCTRECD) Phase II Training Award. The K99 training will bridge my path to becoming an independent investigator in the future to address the oral health disparities (oral cancer and oral clefts) in Hispanics. The group of mentors that have guided my career development have been essential in stimulating me to keep moving forward.
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