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Roger Johnson - October 2013

Roger Johnson, D.D.S., Ph.D., is professor, periodontics and preventive sciences, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson. He has previously served on the faculty of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Johnson earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota and his D.D.S. from the University of Tennessee. His research interests are mechanisms in the etiology of periodontal disease, systemic effects of oral (endodontic) inflammation and the use of saliva as a diagnostic fluid. His clinical interests are periodontal diseases and osteoporosis.

He has mentored many students and faculty during the past 30+ years of research activity. He has been principal investigator for many grants, including studies of effects of microgravity on bone (NASA), development of a dental diet for dogs and cats (IAMS, Procter and Gamble), and the role of estrogen in inflammation (NIDCR).  He has been the faculty sponsor for several students in the AADR/ADEA Academic Careers Fellowship program and received the AADR National Student Research Group Mentor of the Year Award in 2009.

Johnson has been an AADR member since 1982. He has served on the IADR/AADR Journal of Dental Research Editorial Board and was active in the AADR Science Information Committee.

How did you first get involved with AADR?
I was first a member of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. When I moved to the United States I transferred my membership to AADR. What appealed to me about IADR was when I was in Canada there wasn’t a lot of dental research taking place in the institution. IADR was really the only way I could keep up with what was happening in the research world. Having my IADR membership was really a lifeline for me since I was in an area that was isolated, in regards to dental research.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
By far the most valuable benefit for me has been the collaborating with other members and having networking opportunities. Being a member of AADR gives me access to people who have similar research interests as me. I’ve gotten involved in a student group and I rely heavily on the people who are mentors in other student groups to advise me on how to handle our student group. I also enjoy the high-tech symposia presentations at the Annual Meetings and find that to be important to 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 is essential because things are getting so complicated and knowledge is multiplied so quickly that it’s difficult for one person to keep track of everything in detail. Getting a good group of people together that have a goal and different approaches to the goal is the only way we can stay current with the literature. Otherwise, unless you have a photographic memory, it’s difficult to remember everything.

Where do you feel the research community would be without AADR’s influence?
I belong to other research groups and I believe that dentistry gets lost. Without AADR I don’t think we would have a vehicle for getting out our message. AADR is a forum for members to meet and talk about what’s important, and relay that information back to the public. 

What’s a message you want to give to future dental researchers?
I have learned that it’s crucial to establish collaborations and meet the right people. A key piece of advice that I would offer is to find people with complementary interests. Once you have found the right collaborators, bring your own puzzle pieces to the problem so that you’re contributing science and knowledge. Establishing the right network is helpful in achieving research success. 

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