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Dana Graves - March 2015

Dana Graves, D.D.S., D.M.Sc. is the vice dean for scholarship and research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia. There, he is also a professor in the Department of Periodontics and director of the Doctor of Science in Dentistry Program. In addition to research, he practices at the Penn Dental Faculty Practice. 

He earned his D.D.S. degree from Columbia University, New York. He also earned a certificate in periodontology and a D.M.Sc. in oral biology from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Mass.  

Graves’ research interests seek to understand how inflammation affects bone, stimulating resorption and limiting repair of damaged structures. These studies examine the impact of inflammation on cell death and proliferation, and include the activation of transcription factors that regulate critical gene targets. Another major area of his research examines how diabetes-associated cytokine dysregulation may represent a common link in a number of diabetic complications, including periodontal disease and impaired wound healing.

With an established record of notable contributions to the fields of inflammation, diabetes, vascular function and wound healing, Graves is a world leader in periodontal research. Since 1984, his research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health. His publication record gives evidence of his high productivity with more than 150 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed high-level journals, and his work is highly cited by fellow scholars.

Graves joined AADR in 1984 and currently serves on the IADR/AADR Publications Committee. In 2014 he received the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award for Basic Research in Periodontal Disease. This award is designed to recognize, encourage and stimulate outstanding achievements in basic research in periodontal disease.

What is the most valuable benefit of your AADR membership?
While I find value in all of the benefits, I think that the most valuable one for me is access to the online Journal of Dental Research. I find that it is an important vehicle for disseminating information and for researchers to publish their work. It’s also a way to participate in the dental and oral health research community.  

How important has AADR been to your career?
I have enjoyed my AADR membership and in particular, the JDR has been extremely important. Some of the research I’ve wanted other scientists to see has been published in the JDR. It’s an important publication in dentistry—it’s necessary for dentistry to have a recognized and esteemed publication in which we can publish our research, and the JDR has that reputation. That is one aspect of my membership that has been valuable to my career. Attending the meetings has also been important to my career because, in addition to sharing my research in the JDR, I’m able to present it at AADR meetings, 

Describe the first time you attended an AADR Annual Meeting.
I attended my first AADR meeting when I was a young faculty member at Boston University. I enjoyed that meeting so much and as result, I have consistently attended the IADR and AADR meetings over the course of my career. The IADR Scientific Groups and Networks organize symposia at the meetings and I find great value in that because that research has an impact on the field.

What would you say to other AADR members to encourage them to be more involved in a Scientific Group or Network? 
I think that one of the best ways to get involved in a Scientific Group or Network is to attend an AADR Annual Meeting or an IADR General Session and attend the symposia that your Group/Network has organized. Doing so allows people to network with others in their field and meet new researchers for future collaborations. 

What is a message you would give to future dental researchers to encourage them to thrive in this field?
One piece of advice is that an academic career can be very rewarding. The problem many dental students face is that when they graduate they are often in debt and they don’t have various avenues they’re interested in pursuing because their debt burden may limit what they do. If they can get beyond that I think they will find an academic career to be rewarding and they’ll realize that there are many ways to participate in one. We need to remember that the financial barrier to an academic career is substantial but if the field wants more students to go into academics, we have to look at the issue of reducing the financial barriers. That is just one of the reasons why advocacy and collaborating with other researchers are so important because they lead to more opportunities. 

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