Dr. Lewis’ research interests center on the molecular events of inflammation and their relationship to
disease processes such as periodontal disease and oral cancer. She primarily uses cell culture and
molecular techniques to assess changes in cell signaling and metabolism in response to cellular stressors
such as bacterial lipopolysaccharide, biomaterials, and most recently, light energy.
Blue-violet light (400-500 nm) is used routinely in dentistry for curing composite restorations. Dr. Lewis’
lab studies the effects of light exposure on cellular metabolism and cell signaling pathways. Her lab uses
a variety of techniques such as western blotting, electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) and
enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) to monitor activation and phosphorylation of
transcription factors, transcription factor binding to DNA promoter sequences, and changes in levels of
their target gene products in cultured cells that have been treated with specific doses of light. Overall
mitochondrial function, levels of reactive oxygen species, and cell proliferation rates also are evaluated
using standard techniques.
Previous studies in Dr. Lewis’ lab have shown a variety of cell type- specific responses to blue light
- monocytic cell lines alter their inflammatory responses
- keratinocytes enhance proliferation and wound healing in a cell culture model
- some cancer cells undergo apoptosis or halt cell division, both in vitro and in vivo
Dr. Lewis has been actively involved in student research for many years, and has mentored dozens of
pre-doctoral, MS and PhD students. Current/future student projects will expand on these previous
Growth of human A431 epidermoid tumor xenografts. in nude mice. Light treatment began on day 12 (arrow)
* indicates significant difference from control at a=0.05.