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Judith Albino - December 2016

Judith Albino, Ph.D., is professor of community and behavioral health at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She also holds an appointment in Colorado’s - School of Dental Medicine. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Albino’s research is focused on health disparities and underserved populations. She is principal investigator and director of one of five NIH-funded oral health disparities research centers, with faculty responsibilities in the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health and Department of Community and Behavioral Health.  

The NIH NIDCR-funded project U54-DE019259 (2008-2017), which is for the Center for Native Oral Health Research (CNOHR), involves two randomized preventive intervention trials and three pilot projects. Additionally, it involves activities focused on training and community participation to improve the oral health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Particular attention is given to early childhood caries and other oral infections, and to the behavioral and cultural factors in developing successful interventions. Grants U54DE019259-07S2 and U54DE019259-07S3 extend follow-up assessments and final data analyses from one major clinical trial, as described in U54-DE019259. Grant U54DE019259-07S1 provides supplemental funding to conduct pilot studies of essential measures and motivational interviewing, and to double the number of participating Head Start Centers identified in the original application, as described in U54-DE019259. 

Albino joined IADR in 1977 and is the recipient of the 2016 IADR Women in Science Distinguished Female Mentor Award. 

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I first learned about AADR when I did my first academic position at the University at Buffalo School of Dentistry, right out of graduate school. As a junior faculty member, it was evident to me that AADR was the organization where I needed to focus my attention and present my research at the meetings and publish my findings in the Journal of Dental Research. In my first year in my academic position, I attended the AADR Annual Meeting, where I found a very supportive group of scientists who were interested in behavioral research in dentistry, as well as other disciplines, and that was encouraging. 

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
I think the most valuable benefit has been having an academic home in the organization. It’s enormously important to keep in touch with behavioral scientists, but also with scientists from other disciplines working in other dentistry. Being active in AADR allows me to network with those scientists. Also, having the opportunity to present my work and have it critiqued by those who understand my work has been valuable, as well as the general networking opportunities that AADR provides. When I attended my very first meeting, I established connections with people who are still in my network today and I consult with them on research matters. 

What impact has AADR had on your career?
I think for any of us, the networking is critically important. When I joined AADR as a junior faculty member, I was looking for opportunities and trying to see the landscape in terms of the world in which I was working. Then as I became more established in my career, the people that I knew through my network were the ones I turned to about the work I was doing and ideas for future projects. Those connections were made through being an AADR member and attending the meetings. AADR is very important to creating an identity for people who work in this field and it continues to create that sense of an academic and research home. It’s important to have that home as a researcher. 

What do you think is the best way for newer AADR members to become more involved in the Association?
I think that if newer members want to become more involved they should definitely attend the meetings and become active in a Scientific Group or Network that represents their area of research. If they’re looking for more ways to get involved, they can volunteer to serve on a Committee. It’s about being an active member, not just a member. There are many opportunities to participate and learn from other investigators. AADR provides those opportunities for members to participate at all levels of their career. 

What’s a message you would give to dental students to encourage them to pursue research?
I think dental students should tune into AADR and pay attention to the research to recognize how important it is to advancing the practice of dentistry and advancing knowledge across biomedical and behavioral areas. There’s a fertile ground and great array of ideas that come from behavioral science in dentistry, and having that knowledge is important in the preventive care that dentists provide. 

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