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/ Categories: Strides in Science

March 2019 – Mark Herzberg

Mark Herzberg, AADR Vice-President, is Professor, Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota and Director Emeritus of the NIH-supported Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training Program, and former Associate Director of the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute.  He was a regular member of the NIH/Oral Biology and Medicine Study Section from 1991 to 1995, the American Cancer Society Institutional Review Committee from 1985 to 2009, and other NIH and national scientific review committees.  In 1992, he was elected Fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his research work on molecular basis of infective endocarditis and in 1995 he received the Distinguished Scientist Award in Oral Biology from the International Association for Dental Research.  From 1993 to 2004, Mark was editor of the Journal of Dental Research and a member of the IADR/AADR Joint Publications Committee. He served on the IADR Boards of Directors and Joint Finance Committee and as President-elect, President and Immediate Past President of the IADR Microbiology and Immunology Research Group. Mark served as a member of the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council, NIDCR and a member and Chair of the Board of Scientific Councilors of NIDCR, 2007-2012.

He maintains an active research program, which currently focuses on survival mechanisms of the commensal oral streptococci, the role of mucosal epithelial cells in protection against infection, and the development of cell autonomous antibacterial therapies.  These studies have serendipitously led to the discovery of a novel tumor suppressor in head and neck cancer.  In the past, his laboratory characterized the molecular basis of streptococcal interaction with the human platelets, the molecular pathophysiology of infective endocarditis, and thrombogenicity in response to oral streptococci.  Research from the Herzberg lab has been the subject of numerous research reports published in the peer-reviewed literature.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
I first learned about AADR as a graduate student at the University at Buffalo, New York. The department of oral biology offered Ph.D. degrees to a cohort of dentists, who were focused on research. We were involved with AADR because AADR had the most research support and activity in our areas of interest.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
For me there are two — one is the people who come to the meetings. They are not only scientific leaders but they’ve become very good friends over time. At the meetings, there is a significant role of collegiality that I’ve always appreciated and that makes me want to be part of an organization like AADR.
The other valuable benefit is the Annual Meetings — very interesting science is presented and I am inspired by that. I’ve tried hard in my career to do interesting research, sometimes it turns out silly and sometimes it turns out great. 

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
The AADR has Sections that serve specific geographic regions and dental schools, but there needs to be more activity at the local level and within each smaller community. The advantage of being a part of these smaller communities is that engagement with other members in your Section occurs more often than the Annual Meetings.

How long have you been involved with the JDR and why did you volunteer your time as JDR Editor-in-Chief? What motivated you to keep doing this work?
I’ve been involved with the JDR as a leader since I was a graduate student. Many important papers in our field have been published in the JDR. I’ve always had an interest in making the JDR become a more appreciated journal and in encouraging the best scientists to publish their work in our journal.  The JDR shows off the best of what our dental, oral and craniofacial research community has to offer. 

I actually have a background in English and an interest in the journalistic aspects of reporting science so I enjoy the work I do with the JDR and I like to help others craft their papers.

Is there a particular JDR issue or article that inspired you and your research direction? If so, why? How has working closely with JDR been how has it been significant to your work/research and career?
The issue I would say has been most important is a recent 2018 special issue on head and neck cancer. My research team and I contributed a paper to that issue and I think it is wonderful that the JDR can put together what represents the consensus of strong work that shows the advances in the field. 

Anytime you write a review paper it is an opportunity to retell your story, first to yourself, then to coworkers and then ultimately to the community. In telling the story you will either convince people or you will rethink your direction. Review papers are an opportunity to tell the community what your individual reports mean if you put them together. Each review paper represents one of many small chapters in the development of a long narrative about advances.  The continuing narrative about advances in our field is invaluable and instructive for the scientific community.

What do you want to see in the future for the JDR?
I’d love to see more special issues about topics that are relevant to our community but written by leading investigators both from within and outside our community. We need to learn from one another. The special issue on head and neck cancer did a bit of that and I’d love to see more.


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