Dr. Luisa DiPietro

March 21, 2012

Dr. Luisa Ann DiPietro had her sights set on being a general dentist, but a dental school class in immunology got her interested in doing research and took her down a different career path.  

Dr. Luisa Ann DiPietro had her sights set on being a general dentist, but a dental school class in immunology got her interested in doing research and took her down a different career path.  

Dr. DiPietro is a professor of periodontics and director of the Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration in the dental school at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she earned her DDS, followed by a master of science in histology and a Ph.D. in immunology.

Her research is focused on the immune system and its role in wound healing. For the past 10 to 12 years she has been studying how wounds heal differently in the mouth and skin.

Because wounds in the mouth tend to heal more quickly and with less scarring, Dr. DiPietro says the long-term goal “is to make healing of the skin faster and with less scar formation.”

The research could be immensely beneficial for the estimated 6 million Americans who suffer from wounds that won’t heal.
Dr. DiPietro said the most difficult part of doing research is the long time it takes to complete a project.

“It’s delayed gratification,” she said. “It takes years to get anything done.”
She serves as a mentor for undergraduate, medical, dental and Ph.D. students, which she likens to being a cheerleader who encourages them to continue research despite setbacks and the years it can take.

“I tell them, ‘You can do it. I know the answer is there.’”

Dr. DiPietro is married to an oral surgeon and has twin 22-year-old sons who are in college. She continues to find doing research as compelling as she did three decades ago.

“Research is like solving a puzzle. You get to be curious, analytical and logical.”