Gerard Kugel - July 2013
Gerard Kugel, D.M.D., M.S., Ph.D., is the associate dean for research, and professor of prosthodontics and operative dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been part of the dental faculty since 1986. Kugel earned his B.S. from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; his Ph.D. from the University of Siena, Italy; and his M.S. and D.M.D. from Tufts University.
Kugel joined AADR in 1987 and in 2009 he was awarded the AADR National Student Research Group Mentor Award for being an outstanding faculty mentor. With an expertise in clinical research and esthetic dentistry, he is a reviewer for The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Dental Association and the Journal of Dental Materials. He is on the editorial board of the Journal Esthetics & Restorative Dentistry, the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry and Compendium, and he is editor-in-chief of Inside Dentistry.
Kugel is a fellow in the American and International Colleges of Dentistry, as well as the Academy of General Dentistry and the Academy of Dental Materials. He has published more than 120 articles and more than 200 abstracts in the field of restorative materials and techniques. He was given more than 300 lectures both nationally and internationally. Kugel is part of a group practice, the Boston Center for Oral Health, which is located in Back Bay, Boston.
What motivated you to join AADR?
Attending the AADR meeting is what motivated me to join the Association. At the time I joined AADR I was young investigator and I was doing research. Some faculty members were planning to attend the meeting and they encouraged me to attend it. I remember attending my first meeting, and I was torn between basic science and clinical, so I attended sessions that were more clinically oriented and some that were basic science oriented. That meeting provided mental stimulation and I thought it was a great experience. I learned a lot that I probably wouldn’t have learned or thought about had I not attended those sessions. I was hooked at that point and now I tell dentists that it’s beneficial for them to attend the IADR and AADR meetings, even if they’re not involved in research. I encourage them to go and see what’s happening in their profession. For anyone who finds research exciting and finds knowledge exciting, the AADR meeting is really the place to go.
What’s some advice you would give to newer AADR members to help them navigate their membership?
I would tell newer members to take advantage of what their membership has to offer. You must attend the meetings, read the communications that the Association sends and visit the website for new information. It’s important to maximize your opportunities. When my colleagues and I attend the meetings, we map out our meeting schedules in advance so that we can attend different presentations—we try to maximize our efficiency. I think that everyone should spend time really visiting the posters and meeting people because those interactions are very important.
How important has AADR been in your career?
AADR has been extremely important. The association has really made my career in a sense because it has helped me establish connections and collaborations.
How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
It’s critical because the government is looking at it and looking at maximizing the return on their investment—our government doesn’t want people isolated in their labs. We need to be able to break down the silos between and even within universities. The IADR and AADR meetings lend themselves to opportunities for further collaboration, and through these meetings we’re able to maximize our collaborations with other universities and corporations. At Tufts University, we have students who study in Australia every year, we have three going to Germany this year, we’re sending a couple students to Halifax and we also send some to California. These opportunities for collaboration stem from connections that were established at AADR meetings.
You mentioned that the government is looking at research and how we are maximizing the return on their investment. What’s a message we can send to the government to express the need for continued and increased dental research funding?
I think our representatives have to understand how our research is impacting the community as a whole, not just the dental community. I believe that it’s our job to let the community know what we’re doing. I attend AADR’s Advocacy Day program and here at Tufts University we have faculty members who speak to community groups about the research they’re doing. My colleague Jonathan Garlick (also an AADR member) speaks to community groups about the stem cell research he’s performing and where he wants to take that research. We also lecture to dental groups and dentists about our research. Dentists need to support dental researchers and if we had every dentist write a letter to their representative it would help us. When I reach out to dentists, I inform them of the work that has been done, how it has been supported by the government and how it has changed the lives of many people. That is a message that we can better communicate. I think it takes more than speaking to our congressional representatives, we need to get our dental groups to help support us and we need to let the community know what we have done for them.