Dr. Mayara Zaghi Dal Picolo's Collaborative Research with the OU College of Dentistry
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Dr. Mayara Zaghi Dal Picolo's Collaborative Research with the OU College of Dentistry

Dr. Mayara Zaghi Dal Picolo's Collaborative Research with the OU College of Dentistry

Published: Thursday, November 11, 2021

Dr. Mayara Zaghi Dal Picolo's Collaborative Research with the OU College of Dentistry 

Born and raised in the small town of Piracicaba in São Paulo State, Mayara Zaghi Dal Picolo, D.D.S., MS, did not let the pandemic stop her from a dream of pursuing a collaborative research project with the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry. 

Before Dr. Zaghi began her journey in research, she earned her doctor of Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2015 at Piracicaba School of Dentistry (FOP-UNICAMP), where she discovered her passion for research. Upon graduation, she went on to complete a Master’s degree in restorative dentistry. It was during that time she opened up her private practice while still finishing up her masters. 

In 2017, Dr. Zaghi began a Ph.D. program under two doctors, Dr. Vanessa Cavalli (mentor) and Dr. Marcelo Giannini (co-mentor) and was introduced to several techniques in materials science, oral microbiology and cell culture. Studying these new techniques gave Dr. Zaghi an interest in novel ceramic materials and their interaction with oral microorganisms and human cells. She presented her research results at national and international conferences such as International Academy for Adhesive Dentistry and the International Association for Dental Research.

At one of her presentations, Dr. Zaghi was introduced to the OU College of Dentistry through Fernando Luis Esteban Florez, D.D.S, MS, Ph.D, Division Head of Dental Biomaterials, and Sharukh Khajotia, B.D.S., MS, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Innovation. In 2019, her research group came to Oklahoma to visit the college. During this time, she learned about the possibility of a collaborative research project to develop and characterize novel nanofilled dental glazes with long-term and non-leaching antibacterial properties. 

“The possibility of a collaborative research project was very exciting to me,” said Dr. Zaghi. “During my visit, I witnessed cutting-edge nanofabrication strategies and advanced characterization techniques that are routinely conducted in the Division of Dental Biomaterials, which would help me prepare to launch an independent and well-funded research program.” 

Upon her return to Brazil, Dr. Zaghi and her mentor, Dr. Cavalli began working on a research project to determine the effects of the incorporation of titanium dioxide nanotubes on the biological, mechanical and esthetic properties of commercially available ceramic glazes. They worked diligently to reduce the viability of oral microorganisms. Still, they ultimately felt that a collaboration with the college would help the research group to develop experimental glazes with fully functional metaloxide nanoparticles.

To collaborate, Dr. Zaghi had to participate in a six-month research-intensive doctorate sandwich scholarship (PRINT program) from the Brazilian Federal Foundation for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES), to sponsor her collaborative research project with Dr. Esteban Florez. Almost a year after her acceptance into the program in November 2020, Dr. Zaghi was granted a visa to enter the United States and came to the college in September 2021 to start her research. 

“We are very happy that Dr. Zaghi has selected our laboratory to expand her training on the development and advanced characterization of novel biomaterials,” said Dr. Esteban Florez. “Dr. Zaghi comes from a scientific power-house in Brazil and she has a strong background on dental ceramics, microbiology and cell biology. Her work is anticipated to provide fundamental information regarding the loading, dispersion and functionalization of antibacterial metaloxide nanoparticles in dental ceramics. This will translate into novel materials with long-term and sustainable properties. Further, it will allow our group to develop secondary applications such as ceramic nanocoatings to control the cross contamination in hospitals, ambulances, dental practices, airports, train stations, etc., thereby decreasing the costs of healthcare to Oklahomans and nationwide.”

The Division of Dental Biomaterials uses cutting-edge scientific technologies that are hard to find elsewhere. Dr. Zaghi is happy to use them and gain knowledge while being in the United States to help her professional and personal career.



The OU College of Dentistry is home to the state’s only doctor of dental surgery program and baccalaureate degree program in dental hygiene. More than 60% of the state of Oklahoma’s dentists are graduates of the OU College of Dentistry. The college provides general dental care and specialty care to Oklahomans through student, resident and faculty practice clinics. The OU College of Dentistry has established a reputation of training its students to provide the highest quality of clinical care available.