Please note: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will now be called "UT Health San Antonio."

Search Program Faculty/Research

Peter Gakunga, Ph.D.

Peter gakunga


Dr. Peter Gakunga is an assistant professor in the Department of Orthodontics. He is a clinician/scientist with specialized training in orthodontics, as well as doctoral and postdoctoral training in oral biology and craniofacial growth and development.

Dr. Gakunga is a graduate of the Dental School, University of Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a graduate of UT Health San Antonio Orthodontic Residency Program. He obtained his basic science graduate training at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, San Francisco. He was a National Institutes of Health fellow at Baylor College of Dentistry.

Dr. Gakunga's research is focused on deciphering the molecules that control growth in the cranial base synchondroses. This work uses the mouse model, as well as a novel cranial base organ culture system. The current phase of this study is designed to decipher the role played by a potent growth factor, TGF-b1, in mediating the exquisitely controlled changes that are the hallmark of craniofacial synchondrosal growth. This work has potential for furthering our understanding of craniofacial growth and development, including the modulation of orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic forces. It also has the potential of providing an effective screening method for some craniofacial congenital disorders.

Selected Publications

Panda SP, Guntur AR, Polusani SR, Fajardo RJ, Gakunga PT, Roman LJ, Masters BS. Conditional deletion of cytochrome P450 Reductase in osteoprogenitor cells affects long bone and skull development in mice recapitulating Antley-Bixler Syndrome: Role of a redox enzyme in development. PLoS ONE 2013 Sep;8(9):1-14.

Nummikoski PV, Dove SB, Gakunga PT, Hatch JP, Noujeim M. JPEG2000 compression on landmark identification of lateral cephalometric digital radiographs. Amercan Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics 2009 May;138(4).

Nomura M, Motegi E, Hatch JP, Gakunga PT, Ng'ang'a PM, Rugh JD, Yamaguchi H. Esthetic preferences of European American, Hispanic American, Japanese, and African judges for soft-tissue profiles. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics 2009 Apr;135(4 Sup):87-95.

Jackson A, Lemke RR, Hatch JP, Salome N, Gakunga PT, Cochran DL. A comparison of stability between delayed versus immediately loaded orthodontic palatal implants. Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry 2008 Mar;20(3):174-184.

Opperman LA, Adab K, Gakunga PT. Transforming growth factor-beta 2 and TGF-beta 3 regulate fetal rat cranial suture morphogenesis by regulating rates of cell proliferation and apoptosis. Developmental Dynamics 2000 Oct;219(2):237-247.

Gakunga PT, Frost G., Shuster S., Cunha G, Stern R. Hyaluronan is a prerequisite for ductal branching morphogenesis Development. 1997 Jan;124:3987-3997.

Dixon AD, Gakunga PT. Morphometric changes in growth of the rat pelvis after papain administration Anatomical Record.1993 Feb;235(2):312-318. 

Associate Professor

Director, Orthodontics Internship Program

Department of Developmental Dentistry

UT Health San Antonio 


Ph.D., Oral Biology, The University of California, San Francisco, 1997

M.S., Oral Biology, The University of California, Los Angeles, 1990

B.D.S., Dentistry, The University of Nairobi, 1985



Phone: 210-567-3507