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J. Leslie Winston - June 2012

J. Leslie Winston, D.D.S., Ph.D., is the director of global professional & scientific relations for Procter & Gamble Oral Health. There, she is responsible for representing Crest Oral-B science and products to the dental community, dental professional organizations and opinion leaders.

Winston has previous experience in clinical trials research and technology development. She received her dental degree from the University of Iowa, and her Ph.D. in oral biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo (now the University at Buffalo) as well as her certificate in periodontology.

Winston’s work experience includes both private practice and an academic teaching appointment. She has published her research extensively and presented at major dental meetings around the world, including the AADR Annual Meetings. She has been an AADR member since 1985.
 
How did you first get involved in AADR?
I joined AADR as a dental student at the University of Iowa. There was an active student research group chapter at Iowa and the students were encouraged to become AADR members. I submitted my student research project for presentation consideration at an AADR Annual Meeting and I was fortunate enough to have my abstract accepted. That presented an opportunity for me to attend the meeting and learn more about AADR and get involved. My involvement transitioned beyond presenting my research to serving as the AADR National Student Research Group president, giving me my first experience in association leadership.
 
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
The most valuable benefit has been the networking opportunities. The dental research community is small and the AADR meetings are a place where I can interface with the people who have similar research interests and expand my network to include people who have distinct research interests from my own.. Sometimes I will attend the meetings and see presentations on new areas that intrigue me, and I’m able to make new connections with people in a collegial atmosphere. From an association point of view, AADR has been the primary organization for me throughout all stages of my career. AADR provides a sense of community that is very rare. In my current position, I have the opportunity to attend many scientific meetings and AADR’s meeting is the only one that provides the coming together of different dental and craniofacial interests in one place. That sense of community is something that I truly value.
 
How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
I think it’s extremely important and establishing those collaborations can help people take a technology or method and improve it, or grow one’s depth of knowledge. As we continue to move dentistry closer to other health professions, I think our ultimate goal is to make a difference in the life of a patient. There is power in bringing together people with different skillsets and that can lead to faster progress. I think now is a really exciting time to be in research because many more cross-collaborations are taking place than when I first became active in dental research.
 
What is an exciting change you have seen take place in the field over the span of your career?
I’m seeing more opportunities for oral health research to be part of mainstream health communications. We have a lot of issues that we’re dealing with in terms of the oral health of the public and those issues get amplified on the news. With the amount of information that’s more available today, I find it really exciting that I can read oral health related articles in more types of publications instead of just being isolated to only scientific journals. I think the fact that people have a growing awareness of oral health is something that we need to continue to build upon but there have been a lot of great advances already. Our challenge now is to ensure that the information provided to the public is accurate.
 
What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
I think that it’s very important to establish both mentorship and a network within the research community. I’ve established both and while some of those individuals have changed at different points in my career, there are several key individuals who have been consistent throughout. I think it’s really important for younger researchers to push themselves and reach out and identify people who can help them so that they take advantage of what those who have come before them have learned. This level of support is essential for navigating career options and making faster progress than going it alone
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