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Hansel M. Fletcher - November 2017

Hansel M. Fletcher, Ph.D. is currently the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Affairs in the School of Medicine and Professor and Vice Chair for the Department of Basic Sciences, Division of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Loma Linda University in California. Since 2004, he has served as the Graduate Program Director for the Division of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Fletcher is the current President of the IADR Microbiology/Immunology scientific group.

Nationally, Fletcher currently serves on the Education Boards for the Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology and the American Society for Microbiology. He also serves on several study panels for the National Institutes of Health, including study sections that evaluate grants for the training and development of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty at the early stages of their career. He serves on the editorial board of multiple scientific journals and holds Adjunct professorships at Universities in the U.S., India, China, South Korea and Jamaica. 

He has attracted more than 14 million dollars (U.S.) in research funding resulting in 146 publications including papers, abstracts and book chapters. Fletcher has received the 2015 Lifetime achievement award from the Indian Association of Applied Microbiologists and he received the President’s Medallion from Northern Caribbean University among other honors.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
It goes back to my time in graduate school at Temple University. I finished school in 1990 and my research at that time was looking into Gram-positive microbes and organisms that were involved with dental caries. When I was doing my Postdoc, based on that and my research interests my mentor encouraged me to stay with NIDCR. Since then I’ve been involved with AADR for my entire career.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
The most valuable benefit for me is to be able to stay engaged and communicate with my peers, as well as be involved with the policies that impact our area of research.

What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
I’d like to see enhanced involvement of younger scientists. We have to find a way to integrate them and give them a platform — this is one strategy to enhance what we do and ensure the future of the Association. It is important to involve younger scientists in program development and make sure they participate in the scientific program. 

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
I think one of the best ways to get involves collaboration. In my research, we actively invite people from other disciplines or from others outside of our area of dental research to present their research at our meetings. We can invite students who are not necessarily AADR members to our meeting because the technology developed in other areas can certainly can be converted and used in our area. Once they come and they see the activities, certainly they’ll be interested in joining. From this we can also develop networking and collaboration with people outside of AADR and encourage more people to come to our meetings.

How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
It is critical. I came from an era when there was not much thought given to dental research, but now there is. Our area of research reinvents knowledge in basic areas and those areas are also recognized in different disciplines. Collaboration with other scientific disciplines is vital to advancing research in this area.

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