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Salomon Amar - December 2015

Salomon Amar, D.D.S., D.M.D., Ph.D., is director, Center for Anti-inflammatory Therapeutics, Boston University, Massachusetts. There, he is also a professor in the School of Dental Medicine, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology and the Department of Periodontology. 

Amar earned a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Aquiba School, Strasbourg, France. Afterward, he went on to earn a D.D.S., a certificate in histology cytology, an M.S. in skeletal tissues and apatites, a certificate in periodontology and a Ph.D. in developmental biology from Université Louis Pasteur, France. Afterward he relocated to the U.S. and continued his education as a postdoc fellow in biochemistry-molecular biology at Northwestern University, Chicago; going on to earn a certificate in periodontology from Eastman Dental Center, Rochester, N.Y. and a D.M.D. from Boston University.

His research interests include cytokines and periodontal diseases. In inflammatory processes, the over-expression of cytokines (IL-1; TNF) is extremely detrimental for the host. His lab’s approach to reduce deleterious effects associated with the over-expression of these cytokines consisted in identifying molecular factors controlling cytokine gene expression in inflammatory processes and particularly in gingivitis and in periodontitis. Recently, his lab cloned a novel transcription factor capable of repressing significantly TNF gene expression. His group has also been interested in the identification and characterization of cells and extracellular matrix macromolecules involved in periodontal wound healing. Particularly, their effort has focused on the identification of critical factors involved in driving periodontal wounds into the regeneration of periodontal structures after periodontal diseases.

Since joining AADR in 1989, Amar has attended and presented at numerous AADR and IADR meetings. Being recognized for his research, he is the recipient of two IADR Distinguished Scientist Awards: the Oral Biology Award and the Young Investigator Award. He currently is serving on the IADR Annual Session Committee.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I was involved with the IADR/AADR back when I was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, during a time when it was very difficult to get funding. There was a group in oral biology that was already involved in IADR and they advised me to submit some of my research findings for presentation consideration at the IADR meeting. I was accepted for an oral presentation and the reception of the talk was very stimulating—I was still a postdoctoral fellow trying to find my way in this big sea of biomedical research. That prompted me to join AADR because I wanted to be part of an organization that promoted science, in particular biomedical and oral science. 

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of being an AADR?
Right now is a time for me to pay it back; I’m serving on the IADR Annual Session Committee and I’m involved in other ways. My most valuable benefit from AADR is they literally shaped the way I developed into a dental scientist as a biomedical researcher. I have been very fortunate to be able to interact with peers and in the beginning of my career I was able to meet mentors through AADR. That really shaped how I approached my career. The networking through IADR and AADR has also been very important. I have enjoyed having the feedback and networking with other members because it feels like a very close family, especially within the Scientific Groups and Networks.

How has your research benefitted from interdisciplinary collaboration?
We have to realize that the way we conduct science has significantly changed in today’s challenging times—both financially and scientifically. Scientifically we are dealing with more complex questions and it’s almost impossible to approach a question by a single individual isolated on an island. Very important and significant advances are achieved only by dissecting multiple questions that are converging toward the understanding of mechanistic issues. Unless the approach is dissected by multiple scientists, we will not be able to have tangible answers. 

What is the best way for newer AADR members to become more involved in the Association? 
I advise everyone, especially newer members, to submit their abstract for presentation consideration at the AADR Annual Meeting and the IADR General Session so that they can share their research with peers. I would also encourage newer members to attend these meetings and to not be afraid to network. Networking is necessary because researchers are concerned about the continuity of dental research. 

What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
I want them to know that persistence pays off. We went through a difficult funding time when I was just getting started in my career but I was extremely fortunate to have mentors who strongly advised me to stick to what we believed to be the most important values in research and dental research. That’s how I’ve been able to continue. To the incoming generation, I say don’t be afraid of the big questions and it’s important to surround yourself with mentors you trust. In doing so, you will get valuable feedback. Also, don’t be afraid of grant review panels—it has been a very humbling experience for all of us as researchers. 

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