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Mildred Embree - January 2018

Mildred Embree, D.M.D., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, New York, N.Y.

Embree graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. with double B.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Chemistry and received her D.M.D. and Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the Dental Medicine Scientist Training Program at the Medical University of South Carolina. For her Ph.D. training, she was awarded a fellowship though the NIH Graduate Partnership Program and completed her Ph.D. graduate work at the NIDCR in Bethesda, Md. focusing on extracellular matrix and osteoarthritis. She specializes in temporomandibular joint and musculoskeletal biology and diseases, stem cells and regenerative medicine.


How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I first learned about AADR when I was a graduate student working on my Ph.D. at the NIH. I was motivated to join because I wanted the opportunity to promote and learn more about my research field. I had never presented my research before — I was very nervous, but I wanted to share my work with the dental community and to see what others were working on. I also wanted to meet fellow students that were on a similar path as me to build collaborations. 

My first meeting was in 2005 and it was nerve-racking but it was a great place to practice presenting and it was where I learned how to communicate science. My mentor Marian Young was very involved with AADR, which opened up so many doors that I just wasn’t privy to before joining the organization.


What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
From my experience, I would say the most valuable benefit of AADR membership is the opportunity to connect with others in all stages of their careers. From dental students to established PIs to deans to dental companies and representatives of the NIH — this is a wonderful opportunity to connect and establish collaborations. There are other groups and meetings, but AADR and IADR meetings provide excellent opportunities to connect and learn about cutting- edge research in oral health research.


What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
I think AADR is doing a really great job, but I’d like to see continued and increased support for students. Students are the future of oral health research. Research is very competitive and stressful as you move up the chain to becoming a PI, so the pipeline of graduate and dental students involved in research is at risk for becoming smaller. The AADR as an organization has a critical role in providing the platform and support for young scientists to help develop their careers as they become established scientists.


What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
The best way to become more involved in AADR is to run for something or volunteer. Also if you go to meetings, put yourself out there! Introduce yourself to people — you may be shy at first, but you will make great connections.


How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
Team science is crucial. Long gone are the days that scientists function in silos — that just doesn’t hold out anymore. With advances in technology, access to information and the pace in which science is evolving — it is so critical to assemble a team of interdisciplinary researchers. You need a diverse background of minds to address some of these really difficult questions, solve complex problems, and clinical barriers that we face as a research community.

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