AADR Strides in Science, November 2012-August 2013

AADR Strides in Science is a monthly feature highlighting an AADR member’s accomplishments and comments on how his/her involvement with AADR has been an important part of his/her career in research. If you would like to nominate a colleague to be featured, please send his/her name to scienceadvocate@aadr.org.


Mark Mooney, M.S., Ph.D., is professor and chair of the Department of Oral Biology and holds joint appointments in the Departments of, Anthropology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Orthodontics, and Communication and Speech Disorders in the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his M.S. in biological psychology at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, and his Ph.D. in physical anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.

His research interests have included craniofacial and developmental biology, and the complex genetic and environmental factors that are involved in shaping the human face and body. His principal interest has been the development of various animal models to investigate the interaction of surgery and congenital facial abnormalities on postnatal craniofacial growth in individuals with birth defects to the head and neck.

Mooney joined AADR in 1999 and has been active in the Association in different capacities, including serving as an AADR Section officer and an AADR councilor. He was the recipient of the 2012 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Craniofacial Biology Research, which is an award that recognizes individuals who have contributed to the body of knowledge in craniofacial biology over a significant period of time and whose research contributions have been accepted by the scientific community.

What prompted you to join AADR?
When I joined the dental school faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, I noticed that my colleagues were AADR members. I knew that AADR was a good organization to become involved in and that I would benefit from being part of the organization, and it made sense for me to join. Being part of AADR has been rewarding, and it has helped to shape how I view research and my output.

How did you feel the first time you attended an AADR meeting?
It was interesting for me to attend my first AADR meeting as a young faculty member. I was a member of AADR and I was part of the Craniofacial Biology Scientific Group. I attended my scientific group’s business meeting and it was exciting for me to see these huge names in the field. Those people mentored me, and took the time to talk to me and provide encouragement. It was an exciting experience for me as a younger faculty member and it’s still exciting for me now as I have progressed in my career.

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 the way to go because no one can be just unidimensional. If you don’t do multi-disciplinary research you’re hindering yourself and you’ll be less likely to get funded. There is a big push to cross collaborate at the University of Pittsburgh. I encourage my faculty members to look outside the dental school in different disciplines and find people who will help fulfill their research objectives.

How important is it for other AADR members to be involved in a Scientific Group?
AADR is a big organization and there are many facets to dental research, but you can’t be involved with every facet. I think it’s very important to focus on your particular specialty and get involved in your Scientific Group because that’s where a lot of the networking takes place. These are the people who are doing similar research, competing for grants and looking for collaborators, and knowing these people can help you with your research needs. 

What advice would you give to newer AADR members to help them navigate their membership?
AADR offers many benefits and one of the biggest ones for me is my participation in my Scientific Group. I would tell newer members to get active in their Scientific Group and attend the business meetings. A lot of networking takes place at the business meetings, and the Scientific Groups organize symposia and posters at the AADR meetings. That’s one of the ways newer members can get involved immediately and it’s very rewarding.


 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.


 JUNE 2013

Sally J. Marshall, Ph.D., is currently the vice provost of Academic Affairs at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also a distinguished professor of biomaterials and bioengineering, preventive and restorative dental sciences. She will retire from UCSF effective July 1, 2013 and will return part-time for research.

Marshall earned her B.S. in science engineering and her Ph.D. in materials science & engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Her research interests center on understanding the relationship between structures, properties and mechanisms in materials. Her major expertise is in x-ray scattering by materials and atomic force microscopy for microstructural and mechanical properties characterization. 

In 2010, Marshall was awarded the IADR Wilmer Souder Distinguished Scientist Award, which is an award designed to encourage interest in dental materials research. This year, she was awarded the AADR Irwin Mandel Distinguished Mentoring Award, which recognized her extensive experience and devotion to the mentoring and training of the next generation of scientists.

Marshall has been active in IADR/AADR since 1976 and has served on several Committees, including the IADR Honorary Membership Committee and the IADR Nominating Committee. Additionally, she served as AADR president during the 1992-93 term and later became the IADR president for the 1999-2000 term.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
I think the ability to serve in upward leadership positions has been one of the biggest benefits of my membership. I started out serving at the local level; I was officer and councilor of the AADR Chicago Section. Then I moved to IADR and AADR Committees, and served as an officer in both the IADR and AADR. Those positions convinced me that I was interested in a leadership role in academia and gave me the necessary experience to be in my current position since I had never been a department chair or a dean. I think AADR provides excellent opportunities for members to get involved and to become leaders.

How important has AADR been in your career?
AADR has been essential right from the beginning through giving me a place as a junior faculty member to present my research and get helpful comments, helping me get into leadership roles and by helping me broaden my career. Also, the networking opportunities at the AADR Annual Meetings and the ability to publish in the Journal of Dental Research have both been beneficial to my career in research and academia. 

How important do you think cross collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
I think cross collaboration is absolutely critical. I don’t think just one person can do science anymore, it’s too complicated. My interests have progressed so much throughout my career and it’s impossible for one person or one group of people to know everything they need 

What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?to know to make discoveries that are at the forefront of science. A multidisciplinary approach is needed and you have to have multiple people with greater expertise in different areas interact with each other. 

My advice is to do something that you really enjoy, find good collaborators and – if you can – get funding as soon as possible. If you’re not able to get funding, collaborate with other people who can help you in that arena so that you can continue down a research path that interests you. 


 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.


April 2013

Gary Slade, B.D.Sc., D.D.Ph., Ph.D., is distinguished professor and director of oral epidemiology, Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. Prior to joining UNC, he was professor of oral epidemiology at the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, University of Adelaide, Australia.

Slade received a B.D.Sc. from the University of Melbourne, Australia, a D.D.P.H. from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and a Ph.D. from the University of Adelaide, Australia. He has participated in various epidemiologic achievements, including population oral health surveillance of tooth loss, periodontal diseases and dental caries. Slade has also carried out epidemiological research in orofacial pain, and the impact of oral conditions and dental care on quality of life. Relationships between oral conditions and systemic health, and effectiveness of fluoridation and other health measures for caries prevention are also reflected in his publications, original papers, books and book chapters.

Slade has served on numerous IADR/AADR Committees and is currently serving on the JDR Editorial Board. In 2004, he was awarded the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Geriatric Oral Research. In 2008 he was awarded the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award – H. Trendley Dean Memorial Award. He joined IADR in 1989 and became an AADR in 2010.

How did you first get involved with AADR?
I first became involved in IADR through attending my first IADR meeting in Montreal. At the time I was a graduate student in Canada, and it was the first time I attended an international research meeting. I liken my first IADR General Session experience to that of a kid in a candy store. There was a wealth of presentations, and I had the opportunity to meet researchers who were famous to me because I had been reading their papers and studying their textbooks. There was great excitement surrounding that experience. I later became a member of AADR when I moved to the United States.

How important has AADR been in your career?
Being part of AADR has made me a better researcher and it’s essential to my career. Knowing that through AADR I have national and international contacts that extend beyond my campus makes my work more enjoyable. I know that I can read a study and if that person is already a member of AADR or IADR, it’s convenient for me to send them an email because we already have AADR in common. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive awards from IADR over the course of my career and that has been very humbling. The awards have also given my research more visibility, which has been invaluable to my career.   

How important is cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines to the future of your research?
My main research is with a multidisciplinary group. I have such a broad-based, invigorating team with which to work and I’m fortunate in that regard. In general, cross-collaborating and networking is important for many people. For researchers who don’t have the luxury of working with a multidisciplinary group, attending the AADR meetings is the most immediate way to establish contacts and begin working with other scientific disciplines.

What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
I think it’s really important for all of us to read and I do not think we read enough these days. I encourage future dental researchers to promise themselves that when they return from the next AADR Annual Meeting, they will sit down in the library—which sounds very old fashioned because we no longer sit in the library, we sit at our computers—and spend three hours reading more about science they learned at the meeting. It’s difficult to do because we’re all so busy but it’s important to set that time aside and really follow up on the science that was presented at the meeting. 


March 2013

Sharon Gordon, D.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., is associate professor in the Department of Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Baltimore. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of North Texas and her Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Gordon received her Master of Public Health and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Gordon's research interest is injury and its clinical sequela--pain and wound healing--and the interaction of the inflammatory response and nervous system in pain. Her lab employs clinical and molecular biological techniques to investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying tissue injury, and the factors contributing to differential pain experience. Clinical investigations are aimed at understanding mechanisms of acute and chronic pain, and developing new methods of pain control. Specific research interests are translational and clinical studies that evaluate novel therapeutic agents and permit examination of molecular responses to pain and analgesia. Previous studies have evaluated pain mechanisms in human subjects by correlating biomarkers and pain report.

One of Gordon’s areas of research focus is mechanisms of mucosal injury arising from immune dysfunction, such as mucositis from immunosuppressive conditions and cancer treatments. In addition to mechanistic investigations, current clinical studies include two related to mucositis, two related to pulpal anesthesia, and two studies of risk factors for chronic craniofacial pain.

Gordon currently serves on the AADR Board as a Member-at-Large. Other scientific service activities include peer review through the editorial review process and scientific peer review for two NIH study sections. In 2010, she won the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Pharmacology/Therapeutics/Toxicology Research. She has been an active AADR member since 1990.

What motivated you to join AADR?
I joined AADR as a dental student at the encouragement of faculty members to become involved in AADR. As a dental student, I participated in a summer student research training program and we were highly encouraged to submit abstracts for presentation consideration at the AADR Annual Meeting, and we received support to attend the meeting. That experience in attending the meeting was highly motivational because it gave me the opportunity to network with dental researchers from all over the world. It was also eye opening to see the scope of dental research, and the faculty and dental researchers definitely made me feel welcomed into the field.

What AADR membership benefit has been most helpful to you?
Without question the most important membership benefit is the networking with colleagues who have a like-minded dedication to dental and oral health research.

How important has AADR been to your career?
AADR has been extremely important. Joining as a student member, I was highly encouraged to continue in dental research and the rewards of dental research definitely kept me involved throughout dental school and beyond into my residency, and continuing into my current career path.

Where do you feel the research community would be without AADR’s advocacy efforts?
AADR is extremely important for dental research advocacy and it is the primary organization that holds that responsibility. Although there are other organizations that advocate for other aspects of dentistry, dental research is really foundational to all aspects of the field including the clinical practice, the education piece and the evidence that underlies the profession. As members, it’s important for us to advocate for the field and our livelihood and by advocating we provide role models and bring an important message to many of the oral health messages that are shared on Capitol Hill.

As an involved AADR member, how do you help other members maximize their AADR membership?
As an AADR member, I try to promote the member benefits to students and junior faculty. I make them aware of the different opportunities to become involved in AADR, such as presenting at meetings and publishing research in the Journal. I also inform students and junior faculty of the awards and fellowships, and the opportunities for attending the meeting.

What advice would you give to future dental researchers to help them achieve success?
Whether you define success by research funding or your own sense of satisfaction, my advice to students is do what you love because if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’re going to spend the required time and you’re going to enjoy what you’re doing. That’s what required for success.


February 2013

John D. Bartlett, M.S., Ph.D., is a senior member of staff and chair of the department of mineralized tissue biology at The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also an associate professor in the department of developmental biology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. Bartlett earned his B.A. in biology/psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University, his M.S. in microbiology from the University of New Hampshire and his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont.

Bartlett has focused his research on understanding dental enamel development. The Bartlett research group discovered the first proteinase secreted into the enamel matrix and named it enamelysin (matrix metalloproteinase-20, MMP20). He published about the events leading to the discovery of MMP20 in an article titled “Making the Cut in Dental Enamel—The Discovery of Enamelysin (MMP-20)” (J Dent Res. 2005 84(11):986-988, 2005).  In addition, he has authored a chapter on MMP20 for the Handbook on Proteolytic Enzymes (Amsterdam: Elsevier Academic Press; 835-840, 2013). The Bartlett laboratory also co-discovered the only other proteinase known to reside in dental enamel. This proteinase was originally named “enamel matrix serine proteinase-1”, but was subsequently renamed kallikrein-related peptidiase-4 (KLK4).
A second focus of Bartlett’s research group is to understand the molecular events that cause dental fluorosis. Bartlett has published a novel theory on the molecular mechanisms that cause dental fluorosis (PLoS ONE 5(5):e10895, 2010). Recently, the Bartlett group began investigating the cell-cell interactions that are required for healthy enamel formation.
Excluding abstracts, Bartlett has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers, reviews and book chapters. In 2009, Bartlett was president of the IADR Mineralized Tissue Scientific Group and in 2012 he was the recipient of the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award for Basic Research in Biological Mineralization. He has been an AADR member since 1995.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
It’s important to work together with people who have a firm view of an area that you think might be significant to your research and the collaborations with the people I’ve met through AADR is the most valuable benefit. The first time I met my now co-author Charlie Smith (McGill University) was at an AADR Annual Meeting. That initial meeting has blossomed into a really healthy collaboration. We just finished writing a review article on MMP and cell attachment [Bartlett JD and Smith CE (2013) Modulation of cell-cell junctional complexes by matrix metalloproteinases. J Dent Res. 92(1):10-17.]
What is an advantage of attending an AADR Annual Meeting?
Attending the AADR Annual Meeting presents an opportunity for AADR members to meet people on a somewhat informal basis and learn about their research. The meetings are a nice place to establish connections and that’s something I really enjoy about attending the Annual Meetings.
As someone who has been active in an IADR Scientific Group, why is it essential for other AADR/IADR members to join a group and actively participate?
It’s really important for members to be part of IADR Scientific Groups because the groups are a microcosm of the research that we perform. Joining one is a way of finding people who have similar interests with whom you can share ideas and make strong collaborations.
Where do you feel the research community would be without AADR and its advocacy efforts?
I think it’s essential to have advocacy. I’ve been involved with the advocacy efforts and I’ve written letters to my representatives to show the importance of dental research. Not everyone has a clear understanding of periodontal diseases or enamel defects and how they can devastate a family. I’ve seen young children who have enamel defects and they are teased at school, which is psychologically detrimental to their self image and their learning. Advocacy is especially important for the dental research world and people need to understand the importance of the research.
What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
The message I would give to future dental researchers is be persistent because you’re always going to experience tough times. Another thing is to be honest. If you get a result and it doesn’t follow through with your hypothesis, then you need to think about changing your hypothesis. Also, it’s important to remember that humility will help to establish collaborations that can take your research further.


January 2013

Alexandre Vieira, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., is an associate professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, in the departments of oral biology and pediatric dentistry, and the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics. At the School of Dental Medicine, he is also the director of the Dental and Craniofacial Clinical and Translational Research Center and he is Director of Student Research.
Vieira is a pediatric dentist with more than 15 years of experience working on the genetics of craniofacial anomalies and other oral conditions. He received his D.D.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and completed his postdoc at the University of Iowa.
Aside from the ongoing projects in his laboratory, Vieira has a project entitled “Dental Registry and DNA Repository.” The main purpose of that project is to request that all individuals who visit the dental school for treatment allow Vieira and his team to extract information from the patient’s clinical records and keep a biological sample from where DNA can be extracted. The registry currently includes approximately 3,800 subjects and is the only project of its kind in the world.
Vieira has been an IADR member since 1997 and has served on several IADR/AADR Committees including the JDR Editorial Board, the AADR Fellowships Committee and the AADR Ethics Committee. During his career, he has mentored more than 60 undergraduates along with more than 10 graduate students and five post-doctoral fellows.
What motivated you to become a pediatric dentist?
When I was 11 years old, I went to an orthodontic clinic in a dental graduate school. The dental school had residents and faculty, and many people being treated at the same time. I thought it was a fascinating environment and I think at that time I decided that I wanted to be a dentist. Years later—after I graduated—the first residency program I had was with patients who had special needs. There were several pediatric cases that I had the experience to deal with that year in that program. It was then that I became interested in pediatric dentistry and I decided that I wanted to know more, which led me to do my residency afterward in pediatric dentistry.
What prompted you to join AADR?
Being from Brazil, I initially joined the Brazilian Division of the IADR. After I completed my residency at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I decided that I wanted to get a Master’s degree and the Master’s program was very research oriented. While in the program, I had the opportunity to present my research and the typical venue to present my research was at IADR’s Brazilian Division meetings. After learning more about IADR, I joined in 1997 and when I moved to the US in 2000 I immediately became a member of AADR.
How did you feel the first time you attended an AADR meeting?
My first meeting was in 1997 in Orlando, Florida and I was very impressed with the size of the meeting. The format was very unique and research intensive, with people presenting their research. I thought the format would be a good way for me to network and interact with people, and learn from their research.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
AADR has given me a chance to be very active in an organization. Since I joined, I decided to take a very active role in the organization. I joined Committees, I submitted my ideas for organizing meetings in our area and I barely miss a meeting. I try to attend every meeting and have someone from my lab go and present our work. There is a lot of value in being a member of AADR and everyone who is a member should motivate trainees to attend meetings and become members. If you know anyone who isn’t a member of AADR, you should approach that person to show them that AADR is a good forum for presenting their ideas and research.
What role has cross-collaboration played in your research?
Cross-collaboration has been very important to my research. I was very fortunate that after I finished my training in pediatric dentistry, I decided to do a Ph.D. in the genetics of cleft lip and palate. That allowed me to work with Jeff Murray at the University of Iowa and Jeff is a pediatrician interested in the genetics of cleft lip and palate. Jeff is a perfect example of someone who successfully puts a lot of people together, and working with him was the best thing that could have happened to me because I observed how he interacted with everyone and how he brought people together. I took the same approach in my current projects because we rely on many observations to try to draw conclusions. There’s no way one person could do that efficiently, it’s much more efficient to collaborate with other researchers. IADR and AADR—especially with the meetings—have allowed me to not only present my ideas, but also identify people who would be interested in participating in aspects of the work I’m doing and sharing in the wealth of resources. I use the meetings as my main venue for identifying people and working with them. Therefore, I try to be very active and send many people from my lab, and myself, to present the work. In addition, I have presented symposia and Lunch and Learning’s, and that allows me to get in touch with many people in a short period of time. That has proven to be very successful in my cross-collaboration efforts.
As someone who is very active in AADR, what is some advice you would give to someone to encourage them to be more involved in the Association?
I think that anyone who is interested in becoming more involved in AADR should look or offer their time or service, and participate in the different areas of the Association, from the political aspect and advocating in Washington, DC, to participating in the meetings. It’s important for people to attend the meetings and present their research, and try to bring more people from their institution. If they are an investigator, they should try to bring their trainees. There are several sections available for the members to propose presentation ideas and doing so creates the biggest opportunity for visibility. Other ways to become more involved are to participate on a Committee or the Board of Directors in some level. People need to be proactive; AADR is very open to anyone who is looking to support the Organization.

November 2012

Leena Palomo, D.D.S., M.S.D., has taught at Case Western Reserve University since 2005. There, she is an assistant professor of periodontics and the director of D.M.D. periodontics.
Palomo earned her B.A., D.D.S. and M.S.D. from Case Western Reserve University, along with a certificate in periodontology. She earned another certificate, from St. Elizabeth Health System, in general practice dentistry. Palomo is a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology.
Her research focus is on postmenopausal women and bone changes after the ovaries decline their production of estrogen. This year, she was awarded the AADR William B. Clark Fellowship, which will allow her to continue to study microbial species and cytokine responses in women with periodontitis.
She has been an AADR member since 2003.
What motivated you to pursue the research as your career?
When I finished my education, I started off with an overarching goal to do something useful for society.  As time went on, I started to realize that seeing patients was great but I felt I could do more. So I thought academics would be the right direction. It involved teaching, which allows me to reach more people; and research, which serves the larger goal to improve society through discovery, new knowledge and the continuous assessment of what we know as a profession. Through that career path, teaching, research and treating patients all seemed to fit together in the main goal of making the world a little better, focusing on oral health.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
As a member of a larger research community, it’s important to have a group such as AADR that promotes the advancement of our field, and looks to develop the people active in it. It’s valuable to have access to quality resources and services, and a group that makes all of those things a reality is the most important thing to me as and as a member of this larger community.
What are you currently researching?
Right now, I have an award through AADR—the AADR William B. Clark Fellowship—and my team is looking at the biomarkers of women who use bone-sparing medications and comparing them to the biomarkers in the periodontal environment for women who don’t use bone-sparing medications.
What did it mean for you to win the 2102 AADR William B. Clark Fellowship?
It meant so much to me. My hope is that our profession will continue to expand its valued tradition as a learned profession committed to research and investigation. For those sorts of things to happen, there needs to be recognition and awards; but there is also a need for more dentists to be committed to research careers. For me, the award meant professional development since I am already in the profession, but to my students and would be researchers, it demonstrates there that the AADR is committed to developing us. Through AADR, there is a forum for us to show our work and there is advocacy. All of those things came together for me in that award.
Where do you feel the community would be without the advocacy efforts of AADR and its members?
Without advocacy, the obvious missing component would be funding. Less so obvious but equally important, we need more dentists to be committed to research careers. The more we advocate, the more people are aware of research careers and they will be more willing to commit those careers. We have a critical mass of people who are looking at research careers and there are people, such as myself, who are already in it, and advocacy leads to resources made available for professional development. Outside of that, anytime there is opportunity for scientific meetings where we can capture the imagination of the folks in charge of resource allocation, I think we can get our message out for improving oral health to a larger scope.
How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
Cross-collaboration is critical, especially in terms of improving societies through research. Other disciplines and basic sciences have been using different tactics and methods that, with a little imagination, can be applied in our focused area. It seems that we can gain a lot by observing how other disciplines have dealt with similar challenges. We all need to be proactive in reaching out to other disciplines because they don’t always reach out to us. That is another area where AADR has been helpful in facilitating inter-professional, interdisciplinary thought groups and collaborations.
What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
You can’t do it alone, it’s important to join with a group that enhances the transfer of scientific information. You have to belong to like-minded societies, and AADR does that for educators, clinicians and corporate-type people who drive research endeavors. AADR really brings together a brain trust. To future researchers I say take all you can from this brain trust, and use it to better society.



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