Cameron Jeter, PhD Research & Impact Research Investigators Cameron Jeter, PhD Investigator: Cameron Jeter, PhD Name of Institution: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas Project Title: Protective role of the oral microbiome in Parkinson’s disease Investigator Bio: Dr. Cameron Jeter is an Associate Professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry. Trained in translating neuroscience discovery into clinical applications, Dr. Jeter focuses on the intersection of neurology and dentistry. The aim of her laboratory is to understand and address the unique oral health needs of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. Objective: Our study will determine how changes in oral bacteria are associated with the onset and progression of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and the risk of aspiration pneumonia in patients with PD. Background: Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, affects up to 80% of patients with PD, leading to malnutrition, dehydration and aspiration, a process by which contents in the mouth enter the lungs due to a poor swallow. Dysphagia leads to changes in diet and in oral movements, that then can alter the composition of the oral bacteria. Changes in oral bacteria in turn, can affect the risk of whether an aspiration event causes pneumonia, as particular bacteria are more likely to cause pneumonia than others. Methods/Design: We will take samples of oral bacteria from patients who have had PD for 10 years or longer and track the severity and progression of their dysphagia and oral microbiome for several years. This will allow us to determine if dysphagia alters the oral bacteria, and what species are associated with high or low risk of aspiration complications. Relevance to Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: By understanding how the makeup of oral bacteria of patients with PD changes with onset of dysphagia, we may be able to eventually use oral bacteria composition as a biomarker for dysphagia. Importantly, future studies may determine how dietary and oral care recommendations or oral liquid probiotics can be used as non-invasive therapies to improve the quality and duration of life of patients with PD.