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Gary Slade - 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. 

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