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April 2019 – Jacques E. Nör

Jacques E. Nör is the Donald A. Kerr Endowed Professor of Dentistry and serves as Chair of the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor. He also has joint appointments as Professor of Otolaryngology and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Nör is Associate Editor of the Journal of Dental Research, he has served on various IADR and AADR committees, served as President of the IADR Pulp Biology and Regeneration Group and was recently elected Vice-president of the AADR. Nör was the winner of the 2012 Distinguished Scientist Award, the 2010 and 2011 William J. Gies Award, Biological, won first place in the both the IADR and AADR Edward H. Hatton Award, Postdoctoral Category in 1999, and was elected as AADR Fellow. He is Chair of the Section on Dentistry & Oral Health Sciences of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Nör currently serves as Chair of the NIH study section on Oral Dental and Craniofacial Sciences and has been continuously funded by the NIH since 2002. 

His research interests are in the study of the pathobiology of cancer stem cells and on the development of new therapeutic strategies for head and neck squamous cell carcinomas and salivary gland cancer. More recently, his laboratory has started studies aiming at the understanding of mechanisms regulating dental pulp stem cell differentiation in the context of developmental biology and tissue engineering.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
When I was a graduate student in Brazil, I did a research project and submitted it for presentation to the IADR Brazilian Division — that was my first contact with IADR as an Association. Then, I moved to Michigan and became an AADR member and the first conference I attended was in Chicago in 1993.

What motivated me to join was the Journal of Dental Research (JDR). I had used the JDR while I was a student and I’ve always considered the JDR to be a top journal so I wanted to have access and I wanted to participate in IADR and AADR meetings.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
Access to the JDR is huge benefit. An equally important second benefit is attending the Annual Meetings, which provide opportunities for networking and collaboration. Many of my research projects started at the AADR Annual Meetings. Talking with colleagues, presenting my research, and getting feedback has led to many of our ongoing projects and publications.

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
The best way for other members to become more involved is to participate initially in the local sections and engage with the students though the National Student Research Group (NSRG), serving as mentors and collaborators. The NSRG offers a great opportunity to foster the carriers of emerging scientists. 

Another way I became more involved in AADR was by volunteering and participating in committees. I think its great that every year there is a call for participation. I’ve been on a committee since I’ve been a faculty, almost 20 years now, so there are plenty opportunities to get involved.

How long have you been involved with the JDR and why do you devote your time as JDR Associate Editor? What motivates you to keep doing this work?
My first paper I published in the JDR was on work I did during my M.S. degree in 1996. The first paper I reviewed for the JDR was in 2001 and then I became an Associate Editor in 2010 so it has been almost 9 years now that I’ve been working as Associate Editor.

The role of a reviewer is totally voluntary, so I am very thankful for those who volunteer as reviewers for the JDR — the editors depend on them greatly and their work and dedication to the journal are hugely appreciated. 

In terms of my motivation to keep doing this work, I see this as a big honor. I come from a small town in the south of Brazil. My parents did not have access to education past elementary school and worked low wage jobs. As I look back, I could never dream that I’d have an opportunity to review for the JDR, let along be an Associate Editor — it’s a huge honor! I love doing this job and I will do it for as long as I can.

Is there a particular JDR issue or article that inspired you in your research direction? If so, why? How has working closely with JDR been and how has it been significant to your work/research and career?
My research has two different foci. One is what I started during my Ph.D. training in head and neck cancer with Peter Polverini (past AADR President) and the other is something I started more recently after I became a faculty at the University of Michigan, which is focused on dental pulp stem cell biology. 

In the context of dental pulp stem cells, my current work was inspired by the article “Tissue Engineering of Complex Tooth Structures on Biodegradable Polymer Scaffolds” by Pamela Yelick in the October 2002 issue of the JDR. This paper opened up my eyes to the possibility of engineering dental tissues. Now what we do in our research is not engineering a full tooth but rather engineering the dental pulp. I cite this seminal paper from the Yelick laboratory frequently and I think that it was a very inspirational paper for myself and for many others around the world. There are now dozens of laboratories worldwide that work on the issue of stem cells and dental tissue engineering. 

What do you want to see in the future for the JDR?
The first thing I want to do is to give credit to William V. Giannobile. He has truly been an outstanding Editor-in-Chief and his vision for the Journal has brought so much recognition. In the future for the JDR, I would like to continue to see impactful and paradigm-shifting research. Things like doing special issues that include papers from leaders in the field is a great strategy to achieve this goal. I’d also like to see us continue to have a speedy review and publication process — this is very important because this is what the authors of impactful papers want to see. I think we are on the right track and I firmly believe that the future of the JDR is bright!

Previous Article March 2019 – Mark Herzberg
Next Article May 2019 – David Cruz Walma

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