Megan Pugach, PhD
Assistant Member of the Staff
Instructor, Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Many people, at one time or another, have a dream that involves their teeth disintegrating. This common dream is said to represent fears and anxiety. For people with amelogenesis imperfecta (AI) this nightmare can become a reality. AI is actually a group of inherited developmental disorders that affects the structure and appearance of dental enamel. This condition can manifest in teeth in many different ways and some common problems include: discoloration, sensitivity, and teeth that are prone to disintegration.
AI is due to a mutation in one of the genes that encode enamel proteins, resulting in a protein that malfunctions during enamel development. Megan Pugach wants to know how this happens and is motivated by her desire to improve the lives of children who suffer from the disease. “Although we may not be able to cure amelogenesis imperfecta, if we know more about the roles of enamel proteins during development, we can find out how AI enamel becomes defective, and treat young children much more effectively,” said Pugach.
Currently, the rehabilitation of patients with AI represents a challenge from both a functional and an esthetic standpoint. “If we can gain a better understanding of the histological, morphological, and micromorphological differences among the varying types of AI, we will have a great opportunity to improve treatment,” added Pugach. Currently her lab is investigating how the most abundant enamel protein, amelogenin, guides enamel mineral growth, which will contribute to the general understanding of amelogenin’s role in enamel biomineralization and AI.
Working in collaboration with her colleagues in the Departments of Mineralized Tissue Biology and Applied Oral Sciences. Pugach’s long-term vision is that she can improve knowledge of how healthy enamel forms and her collaborators can use this information to effectively repair malfunctioning dental enamel.
Area of Research Expertise
- Exploring the genetic and molecular basis of health and disease
- Enamel Development
- Public Health
University of California, San Francisco, PhD, 2007, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences
University of Pennsylvania, Postdoctoral, 2012, Anatomy and Cell Biology