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Sharon Gordon - 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.

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