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/ Categories: Strides in Science

May 2018 - Stefan Hans-Klaus Ruhl

Stefan Hans-Klaus Ruhl is a Professor of Oral Biology and Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Immunology University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. He earned his D.D.S. in 1984 and Ph.D. in 1988 from the University of Göttingen, Germany. His postdoctoral work took place from 1989-1994 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Ruhl was Professor of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology at the University of Regensburg in Germany before he moved to the US in 2007.

His scientific interests encompass the general area of oral infection and immunity with major emphasis on the adhesin-mediated interactions of oral bacteria with host receptors. He investigates the molecular basis of glycan-mediated interactions of oral bacteria and systemic pathogens with glycoproteins in saliva and on host cells as well as the influence of biomaterial surface modifications on salivary protein adsorption and bacterial adhesion. More recently, Ruhl and his laboratory have become interested in the evolution of salivary proteins and how it interplays with the oral microbiome. Ruhl firmly believes that glycan recognition by oral microbes plays an important role that will help reveal how oral and systemic health are connected and that will lead to future promising therapies.

Ruhl has trained 14 graduate students, all with a successful completion of their doctoral degree. Since coming to the University at Buffalo, he has mentored eight School of Dental Medicine summer students and two Ph.D. students who successfully completed their degree.

Ruhl was a member of the Journal of Dental Research Editorial Board from 2004-2007, he has held various IADR Group/Network Officer positions, both IADR and AADR Council positions and he was the winner of the 2014 Salivary Researcher of the Year award.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
My first AADR meetings were in 1993 and 1994, but I then moved away to Germany for 10 years. I first joined IADR and its Central European Division in 1995 and when I returned to the United States form Germany I became an AADR member in 2007. Joining IADR and AADR and attending the meetings allowed me to stay in touch with my colleagues while I was overseas.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
Being involved with AADR and attending meetings gives you new ideas about research. Networking is very important — through AADR you get to know others within the field for possible future collaborations. What I really like are the article alerts from the Journal of Dental Research and the newsletters, but I also love all the work AADR does with various government agencies where it highlights the importance of our work and acts as our advocate.

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
Participating in award competitions can help you become a part of the organization, but in my opinion the best way to get more involved is through the IADR Groups/Networks. I am a member of the Salivary Research Group and the Microbiology & Immunology Group. Engaging with these groups throughout the year and then meeting with their members in person at the Annual Meetings can increase your connections. It certainly did so for me — I actually met some of my most important mentors through the group. Especially for young researchers, memberships to the different groups can be very important. They could find a mentor in their field of interest as well as meet other role models outside their niche.

What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
AADR is doing a great job, but I’d like to see AADR help showcasing the dentist-scientist career as an attractive option. Right now we are losing too many of our most gifted students to private practice. Another thing I’d like to see is more outreach to the general public, emphasizing the importance of our work — that can never be done enough! I’d also like to see more speakers and scientists from outside the realm of dental research be invited to the meetings to make both the meetings and membership more appealing for non-dental researchers.

How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
Our future as a scientific discipline is not possible without cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines and the benefits go both ways. I myself am a member of eight other organizations outside of IADR/AADR which are widely spread — everything from evolutionary genetics and anthropology to microbiology and glycobiology.

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