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June 2018 - Ana Karina Mascarenhas

Ana Karina Mascarenhas, B.D.S., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. is the Associate Dean of research at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Dental Medicine.

Mascarenhas has a B.D.S. degree from Goa College and Hospital in India and also holds a M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with an emphasis on oral epidemiology. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health and Fellow in Dental Surgery of the College Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. She has held positions at The Ohio State University, Columbus and Boston University’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine where she was the Graduate Program Director for Dental Public Health, and the project director for Boston University’s Robert Wood Johnson Community-Based Dental Education Program. She also held an appointment at Forsyth Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mascarenhas serves on the editorial boards of journals, is a statistical consultant for Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Endodontics, she has chaired Health and Human Resource Administration Independent Review Panels and has served on review panels for NIH and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

Mascarenhas served as the President of the American Board of Dental Public Health, President of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, CODA Commissioner, is the recipient of numerous research grants and contracts at the institutional, state, foundation and federal levels and has over 60 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I first learned about AADR when I was a graduate student at the University of Michigan and my first AADR meeting was in Chicago in 1993. Getting there was an experience I will never forget. The whole group of graduate students decided to drive to Chicago, but there was a snowstorm. It was only my second year in the U.S. and my first time on a road trip in a snowstorm. Just outside of Ann Arbor there was an accident so we ended up taking the train! The rest of the meeting was amazing with lots of science and networking. 

I was motivated to join AADR because I would read the work of great researchers throughout the year and at the meetings I would get a chance to meet these researchers I looked up to. It was so easy to approach these leaders and they were open and willing to give advice and help. One of the leaders I met at my first meeting was Ole Fejerskov. I actually ended up going to Denmark to be trained on his fluorosis index, the Thylstrup & Fejerskov Index that I used for my dissertation. 

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
The most valuable benefit of AADR membership is the ease in which you can connect with colleagues and peers. I’ve made lifelong friends, many of which have become collaborators.

You can have a conversation, bounce ideas off each other. As our careers have progressed we now have graduate students ourselves. Through our AADR connections and its global networks we can connect our students to each other.

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
The best way to start is as a student and by going to the meetings. If we as mentors bring students to the meetings and allow them to make new connections, we further engage them in the field and in AADR. The scientific aspects of the meeting are great, but it is also important to attend social events so you can expand your network. While attending an AADR meeting, I went out to dinner with a group and ended up making a life-long friend with the person that sat next to me. Today that individual and I connect almost every other week and visit with each other often. The connections made through AADR are invaluable to me. 

What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
I love that AADR has brought speakers with a wide range of expertise outside of dentistry to meetings. Dentistry can no longer be isolated or within ourselves and I’d love to see this trend continue. Attracting different speakers is an amazing way for us dental researchers to think outside the box.

How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
This should be our number one priority — we cannot sustain as a profession if we don’t collaborate with other health professionals and other experts. Lately I’ve had a lot of success engaging medical professionals and training them to do screening and triaging. Getting the help of our other medical colleagues is vital, we all have a common goal and there are more of them then us. Like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes teamwork with other disciplines to raise a healthy child, thus our research is interlinked and should also be cross-collaboration and teamwork. 

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