2020 NOF Hatton awards to Sarah Kamounah, Denmark and to Håvard Hynne, Norway

2020 NOF Hatton award winners are announced during the 2020 General assembly, which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemics. Two winners, Sarah Kamounah from University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Håvard Hynne from University of Oslo, Norway will represent NOF in the IADR Hatton award competition, which will be held in conjunction with the  99th General Session of the IADR, the 50th Meeting of the AADR and the 45th Meeting of the CADR (Boston, Mass., July 21-24, 2021).

Håvard Hynne  is a PhD- fellow at the Department of Oral Surgery and Oral Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Oslo, Norway.His award winning project is a collaboration between the Dry Mouth Clinic at The University of Oslo, the Norwegian Dry Eye Clinic, and Oslo University Hospital. Research group have examined 30 patients with head and neck cancer who have received radiation therapy to the head and neck. It is well known that patients after radiation therapy are very troubled with dry mouth, and studies have reported that  63% -93% of the patients have irreversible destruction of the salivary glands as a result of the radiotherapy.  However, whether these patients are also troubled with dry eyes, either as a late effect after treatment or for other reasons, has been less studied. Their research group has previously studied patients with primary Sjögren’s Syndrome. Their previous studies provides a basis for comparing dry mouth and dry eyes in different patient groups. The severity of dryness from mouth and eyes can be compared, and biochemical analysis of saliva and tears may possibly create a roadmap for how salivary and lacrymal glands are affected by various conditions. This in turn hopefully leads to the discovery of potential biomarkers contributing to better and simpler diagnostics as well as more targeted treatment for patients with dry mouth and dry eyes. Håvard states that “To me, and my multidisciplinary research group, it is a great honor to receive such an award. I find it very inspiring to be assessed and recognized by international scientists in competition with other researchers. This award provides great motivation for the remaining work of my PhD degree, and for further research.” (Photo by Marie Lindeman Johansen, UiO).


Sarah Kamounah graduated dental school in 2019 and started her journey as a phD student shortly thereafter at the Department of Odontology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen with Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen as her primary supervisor. The aim of her phD fellowship is to characterize the salivary mucins and the salivary gland glycoproteome and microbiome in patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS). PSS is an autoimmune disease characterized by destruction and dysfunction of exocrine glands. The main targets of the disease are the salivary and lachrymal glands leading to oral and ocular dryness.

Sarah took a year off dental school in 2017 to conduct research full-time at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in collaboration with University of Copenhagen. During her time at UCLA, she developed a new assay for detection of salivary autoantibody, anti-SSA, utilizing the newly established electrochemical platform (electric field-induced release and measurement, EFIRM). This project was the beginning of her career as a future researcher and one of the many reasons why she decided to pursue a phD fellowship.

The awarded project is a continuation of the work she started during  her research year at UCLA. In this study whole saliva samples from 34 patients with pSS, 35 patients with non-pSS sicca and 41 healthy control subject were analyzed by EFIRM to detect anti-SSA/Ro in saliva. Based on the results, presented in the abstract, she concluded that salivary anti-SSA/Ro are robust discriminatory biomarkers for Sjögren’s syndrome, addressing the unmet clinical need of early detection of the disease. Furthermore, the detection of salivary anti-SSA/Ro in seronegative non-pSS sicca patients addresses the unmet need to detect precursor state of Sjögren’s syndrome.  Sarah states that “I would like to thank NOF for the recognition and for choosing me and my project as one of the NOF Hatton Award recipients for 2020. It is a very humbling experience for me to accept such an award and I am deeply honored to be representing NOF at IADR 2021 in Boston! I would also like to thank my outstanding team, and especially my supervisor Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen, for the constant support and guidance throughout my early career as a researcher, this award is not only a recognition of my work but theirs as well.