Teresa A. Dolan - May 2013
Teresa A. Dolan, D.D.S., M.P.H. is a professor and dean at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. At the end of the 2013 academic year, Dolan will leave the University of Florida and begin working as DENTSPLY's vice president and chief clinical officer. In her new role, Dolan will provide strategic direction for global DENTSPLY’s professional education activities and will be actively engaging with businesses to support clinical initiatives and strategies.
She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University. She received a D.D.S degree from the University of Texas, and an M.P.H. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Dental Health Services Research Scholar, and she completed a Veterans Administration Fellowship in Geriatric Dentistry.
Dolan’s research has focused on access to care issues, oral health promotion and appropriate oral health outcomes for older populations. She has received numerous grants and awards, and has published extensively in the area of geriatric dentistry and geriatric dental education. She has been an AADR member since 1999.
How did you first get involved in AADR?
I first became involved in AADR as a dental student. Through the AADR Annual Meeting I had the opportunity to do an oral presentation about my research abstract on biomaterials research that I completed as a summer project. That was my first time presenting my research, and the experience was fun and exciting. After I graduated from dental school, I went on to do a hospital residency in general practice in New York. Then I was nominated for a Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship in health services research. In that fellowship I continued my research involvement and presented research at other AADR meetings.
How important has AADR been in your career?
My AADR membership has been a career builder and a networking opportunity. Earlier in my career, after I completed my Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship, I did a geriatric fellowship at the VA hospital Sepulveda, California. Afterward I continued at UCLA as an adjunct faculty. At the time, geriatric dentistry wasn’t well established or a recognized field in dentistry, but there was a group of researchers who were interested in geriatric dental research. We got together and helped establish the IADR Geriatric Oral Research Scientific Group. Through that networking I met many colleagues and friends who did similar research. Then I went on to become one of the officers in the organization. AADR has been really terrific and my member involvement has led to other opportunities through the connections I’ve made with other members.
How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
It is critical for researchers to cross collaborate when trying to advance science. One of my dreams and goals is contributing to science in a way that advances human health and the oral health of our population. I think the only way to really accomplish big science and solve society’s big problems is to work together with researchers in other fields. It’s really the team work that’s going to lead to solutions to common societal problems.
What advice would you give to newer AADR members to help them navigate their membership?
I would encourage AADR members to volunteer. I’ve always thought that AADR is a welcoming organization that is very supportive of volunteers, and allows people to engage and use their talents. Volunteering in AADR is an important mechanism for improving your skillset, gaining colleagues and advancing your research.
What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
My advice is follow your passion, take advantage of opportunities to explore and think beyond the clinical practice of dentistry. We need clinicians but the profession of dentistry has so much more to offer. I encourage dental students to take advantage of opportunities to do research projects, interact with faculty members in their labs by working on specific projects and finding their own personal passion because that will lead them on a career path that suits and challenges them. It really makes the career exciting and interesting, and a life-long process. I think that dentistry offers that for individuals and participating in dental research is fulfilling.