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Sun Lab

Developing functional biomaterials for dental and craniofacial applications

Our lab focuses on developing functional biomaterials for dental and craniofacial applications. One research direction is applying stimuli-responsive smart biomaterials for dental caries and periodontitis treatment and prevention. Another focus of the lab is applying enzymatically and hydrolytically stable resin networks to make multifunctional and durable dental resin composites.

Fields of Interest: Biomaterials, material-cell interaction, drug delivery and tissue-engineering

Current Projects

Project Name: Preventing dental caries through targeted treatment of acid-producing bacteria

Description: This project focuses on prevention of dental caries through targeted treatment of acid-producing bacteria (t-TAB). Its goal will be achieved by formulating and developing a series of pH-sensitive quaternary pyridinium salts and empowering the traditional, non-pH-sensitive chlorhexidine with t-TAB capability. The successful candidates capable of preventing acid-induced tooth damage through achieving a healthy microbial community and maintaining environmental pH above 5.5 will be identified using a multispecies biofilm model that simulates human oral microbial community and further assessed for caries prevention in vitro using a microbial-caries model on human enamel and in vivo through a well-developed mouse caries model.

This project is supported by NIH R01 DE029479A.

Project Name: pH-sensitive materials responding to metabolic activities of cariogenic plaque

Description: The goal of this project is to develop pH-responsive materials capable of antifouling and targeted treatment of acid-producing bacteria in response to their metabolic activities. We will design, prepare and evaluate pH-responsive materials which can autonomously adjusting their physicochemical properties on-sites in response to acids produced by cariogenic bacteria/biofilms, achieve switchable protein adsorption and selectively inhibit the growth of acid-producing cells. The successful completion of this project will produce smart, multi-functional materials with enhanced efficacy preventing the formation and build-up of cariogenic oral biofilms.

This project is supported by NIH R21 DE029925.

Project Name: Durable and low polymerization-shrinkage bioactive resin restorations

Description: The goal of this proposal is to stop all three main failure origins of dental resin restorations, e.g., resin degradation, microleakage/tooth fracture induced by high polymerization shrinkage and tooth erosion by cariogenic bacterial attack, by developing durable and multifunctional resin restorations. This goal will be accomplished by designing, preparing and analyzing multifunctional restorations that are made of hydrolytically/enzymatically stable resin networks. The new restorations will generate no harmful polymerization-shrinkage-stress, be able to inhibit biofilms and prevent cariogenic bacterial attacks, remineralize and strengthen tooth structures, and substantially increase restoration longevity.

Lab Alumni

Mentored students, postdocs, and visiting scholars

  • Dr. Han Byul Song, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2019-2020, now at ADA
  • Dr. Xiaohong Wang, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, 2016-2021, now at ADA
  • Dr. Yuan Meng, University of Rochester, 2017-2018, now at UCLA
  • Dr. Xiaohui Liu, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2016 – 2017, now at BASF
  • Dr. Yin Yang, Dartmouth College, 2015 – 2017, now at Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, LLP
  • Dr. Sheng Song, Georgetown University, 2015-2016, now at Amarex
  • Dr. George Huyang, University of Sydney, 2014 – 2016, now at NICNAS, Department of Health, AU
  • Dr. Andres Gonzalez Bonet, Purdue University, 2013- 2015, now at FDA
  • Dr. Andrews Xu, Dentist, DDS, MS West Virginia University, School of Dentistry, 2014
  • Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth, Louisiana State University, 2012, now at Univ. of St. Thomas
  • Dr. Evan Whitbeck, DDS, MS, Naval Postgraduate Dental School, 2012-2013
  • Dr. Kelli Swenson, DDS, Endodontic Resident, Naval Postgraduate Dental School, 2011-2012
  • Dr. David Liu, DDS, MS, Naval Postgraduate Dental School, 2009-2011
    Shinobu Yamauchi, PhD candidate, Tohoku University, Japan, 2017-2018
  • Graham Parkinson, PhD candidate, Georgia Tech, 2014
  • Heetae Jeon, Undergraduate, University of Maryland College Park, summer 2016
  • Kimberly Van Dongen, Undergraduate, Virginia Tech, summer 2015
  • Anne Debertin, Undergraduate, Northwestern, summer 2015
  • Abigail Jackson, Undergraduate, University of Maryland Baltimore County, summer 2014 (Outstanding intern of year 2014 at UMBC)
  • Christopher Wong, Undergraduate, University of Maryland College Park, summer 2014
  • Evalyn Myerly, Undergraduate, Mount St. Mary’s Univ., 2013
  • Alexander Kassman, Undergraduate, University of Maryland College Park, 2013-2014
  • Brisma Pinto-Pacheco, Undergraduate, Univ. of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Chemistry, summer 2012
  • David Allsopp, Undergraduate, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, Chemial Engineering, summer 2010
  • Edward Yao, Churchill High School, summer 2014, now at Duke University

Featured Publications

Yamauchi, S., Wang, X., Egusa, H., Sun, J., High performance dental adhesives containing an ether-based monomer Journal of Dental Research 2020 99(2) 189-195 PMID: 31861961 DOI: 10.1177/0022034519895269

Baras, B., Sun, J., Melo, M., Tay, F., Oates, T., Zhang, K., Weir, M., Xu H., Novel root canal sealer with dimethylaminohexadecyl methacrylate, nano-silver and nano-calcium phosphate to kill bacteria inside root dentin and increase dentin hardness Dental Materials 2019 S0109-5641(19)30690-6 PMID: 31387742 DOI: 10.1016/

Frukhtbeyn, S., Van Dongen, K., Sun, J., Stoichiometry and kinetics of sequential dimethacrylate enzymolysis Journal of Dental Research 2019 98(9):1037-1044 PMID: 31329048 DOI: 10.1177/0022034519858975

Chai, H., Wang, X., Sun, J., Miniature specimens for fracture toughness evaluation of dental resin composites, Dental Materials, 2019, 35. 283-91 PMID: 30528296 DOI: 10.1016/

Ke Zhang, Suping Wang, Chenchen Zhou, Lei Cheng, Xianling Gao, Xianju Xie, Jirun Sun, Haohao Wang, Michael Weir, Mark Reynolds, Ning Zhang, Yuxing Bai, Xu, H., Advanced smart biomaterials and constructs for hard tissue engineering and regeneration, Bone Research (IF12.35), 2018 6-31

Wang, X., Song, S., Chen, L., Stafford, C., Sun, J., Short-time dental resin biostability and kinetics of enzymatic degradation Acta Biomaterialia , 2018, 326-33 PMID: 29751113 DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.05.009

Yang, Y., Reipa, V., Liu, G., Meng, Y., Wang, X., Mineart, K., Prabhu, V., Shi, W., Lin, N., He, X., Sun, J., pH-sensitive Compounds for Selective Inhibition of Acid-producing Bacteria ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2018, 8566–73 PMID: 29436821 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b01089

Wang, X., Huyang, G., Palagummi, S., Liu, X., Skrtic, D., Beauchamp, C., Sun, J., High Performance Dental Resin Composites with Hydrolytically Stable Monomers Dental Materials, 2018, 228-37 PMID: 29113700 DOI: 10.1016/

Yahyazadehfar, M., Huyang, G., Wang, X., Fan, Y., Arola, D., Sun, J., Durability of self-healing dental composites: a comparison of performance under monotonic and cyclic loading Materials Science & Engineering C, 2018, 1020-6 PMID: 30274032 PMCID: PMC6192528 DOI: 10.1016/j.msec.2018.08.057

Sun, J., Petersen, E., Watson, S., Sims, C., Kassman, A., Frukhtbeyn, S., Skrtic, D., Ok, M., Jacobs, D., Reipa, V., Ye, Q., Nelson, B., Biophysical characterization of functionalized titania nanoparticles and their application in dental adhesives Acta Biomaterialia, 2017, 585-597 PMID: 28163237 DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.01.084

Yang, Y., Urbas, A., Gonzalez-Bonet, A., Sheridan, R.J., Seppala, J.E., Beers, K.L., Sun, J., A composition-controlled cross-linking resin network through rapid visible-light photo-copolymerization Polymer Chemistry, 2016, 5023-5030. DOI: 10.1039/C6PY00606J

Sun, J., Watson, S., Allsopp, D., Stanley, D., Skrtic, D., Tuning photo-catalytic activities of TiO2 nanoparticles using dimethacrylate resins Dental Materials, 2016, 363-372

Huyang, G., Debertin, A., and Sun, J., Design and development of self-healing dental composites Journal of Materials and Design 2016, 295-302 PMID: 26955205 PMCID: PMC4778115 DOI: 10.1016/j.matdes.2016.01.046

Gonzalez-Bonet A., Kaufman G., Yang Y., Wong C., Jackson A., Huyang G., Bowen R., and Sun J. Preparation of dental resins resistant to enzymatic and hydrolytic degradation in oral environments. Biomacromolecules, 2015, 3381-3388 PMID: 26358180 PMCID: PMC4788384 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01069. This paper was highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News, Oct 12, 2015

Sun, J., Forster, A., Johnson, P., Eidelman, N., Quinn, G., Schumacher, G., Zhang, X., and Wu, W., Improving Performance of Dental Resins by Adding Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles, Dental Materials, 2011, 10, 972-982

Ding, Y., Sun, J., Ro, H., Wang, Z., Zhou, J., Lin, N., Cicerone, M., Soles, C.,and Lin-Gibson, S., Thermodynamic Underpinnings of Cell Alignment on Controlled Topographies Advanced Materials, 2011, 23, 421-425 PMID: 20717992 DOI: 10.1002/adma.201001757

Sun, J., Ding, Y., Lin, N., Zhou, J., Ro, H., Soles, C., Cicerone, M., and Lin-Gibson, S., Exploring Cellular Contact Guidance Using Gradient Nanogratings Biomacromolecules, 2010, 11, 3067-3072 PMID: 20954734 PMCID: PMC3061972 DOI: 10.1021/bm100883m

Sun, J., Fang, R., Lin, N., Eidelman, N., and Lin-Gibson, S., Nondestructive quantification of leakage at the tooth – composite interface and its correlation with material performance parameters Biomaterials 2009, 30, 4457-4462 PMID: 19515419 PMCID: PMC2749071 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.05.016

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