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1984 …2024

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr. James K Hartsfield, Jr. and Dr. Lorri A. Morford run the Hereditary Genomics Laboratory within the Center for Oral Health Research in the UK College of Dentistry.

A central theme of their research is the study of genomic and genetic markers in genetic association and genetic linkage analyses. In addition to their own studies, Drs. Hartsfield and Morford have welcomed collaborations with other investigators desiring to explore the discovery and investigation of genetic factors associated with other research pertaining to normal growth and pathology in dentistry and/or medicine.

One of their primary research interests is the investigation of the common underlying genetic factors for dental agenesis and cancer susceptibility (particularly epithelial ovarian and colon). In other collaborative efforts, they are also interested in the investigation of genetic factors involved in (1) familial non-medullary thyroid cancer and (2) HPV and oral cancer.

Primary Research Theme: Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (EOC) is a devastating disease affecting women. It is the deadliest reproductive system cancer that afflicts women and is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in females. Individuals who develop EOC do not experience “hallmark” early disease symptoms, and consistent pre-malignancy markers are minimal (i.e. family history, BRCA gene mutations, etc.). This inability to easily detect early stages of disease often leads to delays in diagnosis, advanced-stage disease, and poor prognoses. Less than 20% of all EOC cases are diagnosed in stage I (non-metastatic) where the 5-year survival rate is 93%. Without improvements in methods to identify and screen high-risk EOC populations, over 70% of women will be diagnosed in metastatic stages III and IV, where the 5-year survival rates are only 34% and 18%, respectively.

In a preliminary work by Dr Leigh Chalathorn in the Orthodontic Division of the UK College of Dentistry, it was shown that women diagnosed with EOC are 8.1 times more likely to also have hypodontia (1 to 6 naturally missing teeth) compared to controls. This is not trivial, as 20% of the women diagnosed with EOC in the study had hypodontia and/or small teeth, compared to only 3% in the control population. Of the EOC patients with hypodontia, 60% had a family history of hypodontia, while only 30% of the same EOC/hypodontia patients had a family history of ovarian cancer.

By comparison, control subjects with hypodontia had no family history of hypodontia or family history of EOC. At the time, this finding marked the second report in the literature of tooth agenesis occurring with cancer. In the work of Dr. Lammi and colleagues, an association was previously observed with colon cancer, severe tooth agenesis (oligodontia) and mutations in the AXIN2 gene. Thus, if genetic markers could be identified linking the presence of EOC with hypodontia, it may be possible to use these markers clinically (similar to markers for BRCA1/2) to pre-screen cancer-free women with hypodontia for heightened risk of EOC development. Women positive for both hypodontia and the genetic marker(s) could be placed on early cancer screening regimens, potentially improving the rate of early-stage diagnosis significantly.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University Of South Florida


Master of Science, Harvard University


Univ of South Florida College of Medicine, Residency Certificate Medical Genetics


Specialty Certificate (post graduate), Harvard University


Massachusetts General Hospital Embryology-Teratology Unit, Research Fellow in Pediatrics Certificate


Master of Science, Indiana University


Indiana Univ School of Medicine, Residency Certificate Medical Genetics


Internship, Hillsborough County Dental Research Clinic


Master of Business Administration, University Of South Florida


Doctor of Dental Medicine, University Of South Carolina


Bachelor of Science, University Of South Carolina


External positions

Lecturer, Part-Time, Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard University

Adjunct Professor, Department of Orthodontics and Craniofacial Genetics, Indiana University School of Dentistry

Adjunct Professor, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine

Adjunct Clinical Professor, Department of Orthodontics, University of Illinois at Chicago

Clinical Professor, Division of Oral Development and Behavioural Sciences, University of Western Australia Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry


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