UW School of Dentistry

UW names Dr. André Ritter new dean of dental school

Dr. André Ritter of the New York University College of Dentistry has been appointed as the new dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, UW Provost Mark Richards announced Thursday. The appointment takes effect Sept. 16, pending approval by the UW Board of Regents.

Dr. RitterDr. Ritter will succeed Dean Gary Chiodo, who said last September that he intended to step down for health reasons but would stay on until a new dean was chosen. Dean Chiodo came to the school in 2018. He had previously served on the faculty of the Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry, including a two-year stint as interim dean.

Dr. Ritter is a professor at the NYU dental school, where he has also chaired the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care. From 2018 to 2019, he was executive dean of the University of North Carolina’s Adams School of Dentistry. At both schools, he maintained a private dental faculty practice.

“The UW School of Dentistry is widely recognized as one of the top programs in the country and indeed in the world,” he said. “The school has a strong foundation steeped in research, clinical care, education, and service. Under the leadership of [UW] President [Ana Mari] Cauce and Provost Richards, I look forward to continuing to build on that foundation, further enhancing the school’s reputation as a center of excellence in oral health education, the delivery of care for all people, and oral and craniofacial research.”

“With Dr. Ritter’s impressive record of leadership in the clinical realm, we are confident that he will continue to improve the School [of Dentistry]’s facilities and revenue models and advance the school’s long-term financial picture,” Provost Richards said. “Throughout the interview process, Dr. Ritter expressed his commitment to strengthening the UW dental community, both within and beyond the University, and we look forward to supporting his work in that.”

At NYU, Dr. Ritter led 300 faculty members and oversaw staffing at all dental clinics and 14 group practices. He promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion through open forums and training, and he directed his department’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that students met requirements for graduation and promotion.

At UNC, his responsibilities included overseeing a $70 million operating budget as well as information technology, facilities and infrastructure, faculty development, clinical compliance and infection control, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He also chaired the UNC Department of Operative Dentistry from 2014 to 2017.

Dr. Ritter earned his DDS from Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, an MS in operative dentistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MBA in health-care administration from Northeastern University in Boston, and a PhD from Universidade Positivo in Brazil. His research interests include diagnosis and management of tooth decay, conservative/minimally invasive restorative dentistry, esthetics, dental adhesion, and composite resin applications.

“Dentistry is rapidly evolving, and schools and programs have to adapt and innovate to be successful,” Dr. Ritter said. “To lead the UWSOD to further elevate its status as a leader in global oral health-care education, innovation, research, and care delivery, and doing so while advancing the mission of one of the world’s preeminent public universities, is an unparalleled opportunity.

“It is also vital to our success that we strengthen the School of Dentistry community, both within and outside of the university. As a dean, I will dedicate myself to fostering a culture of respect, enhanced communication and transparency, valuing diversity and inclusion, and recognizing the need for balance and well-being in our community.”

Dean Chiodo came to the UW at a time when the dental school faced a critical financial challenge, with a cumulative debt of more than $36 million after a series of substantial annual deficits. He quickly brought the school’s finances under control and has put the budget in the black ever since arriving. He also launched a Campaign for Clinics fund-raising drive to update the school’s aging infrastructure and add the new technology that students must master to practice in today’s dental profession.

Under his leadership, the school also hosted the relocation of the highly regarded Shoreline Community College dental hygiene program and has directed its expansion to help address a critical shortage in the state’s dental workforce.

School announces new research leadership roles

Dr. Doug Ramsay
Dr. Doug Ramsay

Dr. Doug Ramsay, Associate Dean for Research and Chair of the Department of Oral Health Sciences, will step down from both roles to take a sabbatical, spurring other leadership changes related to the School of Dentistry’s research mission.

Dr. Whasun Oh Chung will become Acting Chair of the Department of Oral Health Sciences, which is one of the school’s primary research engines, while Dr. Donald Chi will become Associate Dean for Research. Dr. Ramsay will return to the Oral Health Sciences faculty after concluding his sabbatical.

Dr. Ramsay has essentially been doing double duty for three years, assuming the associate deanship after the retirement of Dr. Linda LeResche from that post in mid-2019. She had been Associate Dean for Research since 2011 and is now Professor Emerita in the Department of Oral Medicine.

“Dr. Ramsay has served admirably and with distinction in these roles and our school has benefited greatly from his leadership,” said Dean Gary Chiodo.

Dr. Whasun Oh Chung
Dr. Whasun Oh Chung

Dr. Chung, who joined the School of Dentistry faculty in 2003, is Research Professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences and Director of the Summer Research Fellowship (SURF) program. SURF offers UW dental students a chance to pursue research projects under the guidance of faculty members.

Dr. Chung received a PhD in pathobiology from the University of Washington and joined the faculty after serving for several years as a graduate research assistant, research associate, and senior fellow. She has mentored dozens of UW undergraduate, predoctoral, and postdoctoral students, many of whom have gone on to receive prominent recognition for their research. In 2020, she was named Associate Director of the dental school’s Office of Research. She has received several outstanding faculty awards and was named to the Omicron Kappa Upsilon national dental honorary society in 2012.

Her own research interests are wide-ranging, including gingival innate immunity and the biological effects of dental metal alloys in oral tissues. She was part of a research team that in 2013 patented a novel use of titanates as an antimicrobial dental treatment.

Dr. Chi, who joined the dental school faculty in 2010, is Professor of Oral Health Sciences and holds the Lloyd and Kay Chapman Endowed Chair for Oral Health. He has an adjunct appointment in the UW School of Public Health as Professor and Associate Chair for Research, Health Systems, and Population Health.

Dr. Donald Chi
Dr. Donald Chi

He received a DDS from the UW in 2006 and then served residencies in pediatric dentistry and dental public health at the University of Iowa. He received a PhD in health services research from Iowa in 2009. As a UW dental student, he played a key role in establishing a dental clinic for homeless teenagers at Neighborcare Health in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.

He has received wide recognition for his research, including the 2017 Young Investigator Award from the International Association for Dental Research. In 2018, he was named Pediatric Dentist of the Year by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The award recognizes a pediatric dentist who has made significant contributions to the dental profession and pediatric dentistry through clinical practice, academics or policy development. Recipients also have devoted extensive volunteer leadership service to the dental profession and their specialty.

His research has covered extensive ground, with special focus on access to health care services, pediatric health disparities, neighborhoods and oral health outcomes, and social determinants of oral health.

“I am delighted that Drs. Chung and Chi have agreed to step into these essential roles, and I have complete confidence in them,” Dean Chiodo said. Their appointments take effect on July 1, when Dr. Ramsay’s sabbatical begins.

School makes changes to leadership team

Ricardo Schwedhelm
Ricardo Schwedhelm

The School of Dentistry has revamped its executive leadership team, appointing one new associate dean and moving another into a new role, Dean Gary Chiodo has announced.

Dr. Ricardo Schwedhelm of the Department of Restorative Dentistry, who had been Associate Dean for Clinics, moves into a new role as Associate Dean for Infrastructure and Development. “This position is increasingly important as we strategically plan for continued renovation of our preclinical, clinical, and research facilities; begin use of the new Health Sciences Education Building; and work with the other health science deans and UW Facilities to plan for T-wing renovation,” Dean Chiodo said.

Dr. Natasha Flake
Natasha Flake

Dr. Schwedhelm will also play a central role as the school continues exhaustive preparations for re-accreditation by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation, the dean said, and will continue to lead the school’s quality assessment and improvement efforts.

Dr. Natasha Flake, who is Predoctoral Director of Endodontics and Associate Director of the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education program, becomes Associate Dean for Predoctoral Clinical Education and Operations. In this capacity, she will assume many of the duties previously held by Dr. Schwedhelm. In addition, she will lead strategic development for predoctoral clinical programs and operations. She will oversee the Office of Clinical Services, donor and legislative outreach, and coordination with other UW units.  She will also continue her duties with the Department of Endodontics, the school’s third-year predoctoral clinical clerkships, and the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education program.

UW student receives leadership award named for pioneering dental educator

Awa Seck
Awa Seck

Awa Seck, a fourth-year School of Dentistry student, has received one of the inaugural Dr. Jeanne Craig Sinkford Student Leadership Awards.

The awards, created this year by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), go to a student at each North American dental school, based on these criteria:

  • Participation in leadership activities
  • Demonstration of effective leadership
  • Advocacy for diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Champion for access to oral health care for underserved and disadvantaged populations
  • Community service-oriented
  • Proclivity to enter dental education or organized dentistry

The award honors Dr. Sinkford, who was the first female and African-American female to become dean at a U.S. dental school. She became dean at Howard University in 1975 and served until 1991. A trailblazer in dental education, she has also been an unwavering supporter of dental research and advocate for diversity and social justice. She is now dean emeritus at the Howard University dental school and senior scholar in residence at ADEA.

Seck, who is president of the UW chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA), has received the Arcora Foundation Dr. Burton H. Goodman Presidential Scholarship and the International College of Dentists Dr. Frank Burns Guthrie Memorial Scholarship. She has been an active volunteer, including serving at a Covid-19 vaccination clinic in the Seattle suburb of Kent last year. Also last year, she led SNDA chapter members who joined members of the American Student Dental Association who provided dental care, information, and oral health supplies in South Seattle during the Juneteenth Freedom Day Festival.

Dr. Philip Walczak named Magnuson Scholar

Philip WalczakDr. Philip Walczak, a first-year PhD candidate in the School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Health Sciences, has been named the school’s Magnuson Scholar for 2022-23.

Dr. Walczak, who received his DDS from the school in 2021, is enrolled in the school’s DDS-PhD academic track and practices general dentistry at the Community Health Center of Snohomish County in Everett, Wash. He is one of the seven Magnuson Scholars named by the University of Washington this year.

The $34,000 awards, among the largest given by the university, go to at least one student at each of the six Health Sciences schools. (A seventh award was added this year.) Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic performance and potential for research in the health sciences.

“I am extremely grateful for the generous support provided by the Magnuson Scholar Program,” Dr. Walczak said. “I have looked up to the Scholars since I was an undergraduate and I am honored to now be selected as one.”

Dr. Walczak’s PhD project is a study of the role that PiT-2, a phosphate transporter, plays in bone and tooth development. After completing this, he said, he hopes to continue his graduate work in endodontics and devote more study to oral biology and its application in saving teeth.

“My career goal is to increase understanding of biological processes of pulp regeneration, bone formation, and responses to biomaterials, ultimately hoping to translate scientific discoveries into clinical therapies that can benefit patients,” he said.

Dr. Walczak began making his mark in oral health research several years ago as a UW undergraduate. Working in the dental school’s prosthodontics program and the UW Department of Bioengineering, he studied a novel device to test the stability of dental implants. He also worked in the dental school’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, leading the pilot study of the first optical device to measure the acidity of dental plaque in humans.

His phosphate transporter studies have already won support from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the National Institutes of Health. NIDCR gave him a Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award grant to fund his pre-doctoral and PhD investigations.

The Magnuson Scholars program commemorates the late Sen. Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, a leading advocate of biomedical research who played a key role in establishing the National Institutes of Health, Medicare, and Medicaid.

School continues strong showing in global rankings

The University of Washington School of Dentistry continues to maintain a strong position in the global dental school rankings issued by Quacquarelli-Symonds (QS), a British educational institution.

The UW ranked eighth in the United States and 23rd in the world in the 2022 rankings. In the U.S. rankings, the University of Michigan, the University of California at San Francisco, and Harvard University led the way. The next five schools were tightly bunched, with only 1.3 points separating the scores of Nos. 4 through 8.

Worldwide, Sweden’s Karolinska Institute was first, followed by Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the University of Hong Kong.

The QS rankings are based on several factors related to research, including research citations and reputation, and they also weigh reputation among employers. This year, the survey added an evaluation of schools’ sustainable research collaborations with other institutions of higher education. The UW has consistently ranked in the top tier of dental schools assessed by QS in the last several years.

Still to come are the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) subject rankings, which are usually released in June. Even more heavily weighted toward research, last year’s rankings placed the UW sixth in the United States and seventh in the world.

New acid-detecting tool can predict cavities

In a new study, School of Dentistry and other University of Washington researchers have developed a tool that can measure acidity levels of plaque on teeth, which can predict dental caries, or tooth decay.

A prototype scanner developed by University of Washington researchers can read acidity levels on teeth painted with fluorescent dye to find where they are at highest risk of dental decay.
A prototype scanner developed by University of Washington researchers can read acidity levels on teeth painted with fluorescent dye to find where they are at highest risk of dental decay.  Photo: University of Washington and IEEE Xplore/Creative Commons

The UW device, called an O-pH system, is a prototype that emits LED light which, when used on an FDA-approved chemical dye that patients apply to their teeth, measures the pH levels built up by bacteria in their plaque.

“What our system does is detect the pH of the tooth’s surfaces in order to predict when, or how, bacterial processes will take over,” said Dr. Alireza Sadr, a School of Dentistry faculty member and study-co-author, “and to also determine the risk of each surface of developing caries.”

“Plaque has a lot of bacteria that produce acid when they interact with the sugar in our food,” said Manuja Sharma, a doctoral student from the UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and lead author of the study, in a UW News release. “This acid is what causes corrosion of the tooth surface and eventually cavities. So, if we can capture information about the acidic activity, we can get an idea of how bacteria are growing in the dental biofilm or plaque.”

In early testing, the research team recruited 30 patients between the ages of 10 and 18, with a median age of 15, in the UW School of Dentistry’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry, since the enamel on children’s teeth is more susceptible to acid erosion.

The idea for the technology behind the device came from Dr. Eric Seibel, senior author and research professor of mechanical engineering in the UW College of Engineering, who initially worked on the project with former UW dental dean Dr. Joel Berg.

According to Dr. Sadr, the future applications of the O-pH device could reduce the need for dental X-rays. “Instead of going to the dentist and getting X-rays annually, you could go to the dentist and get an Oral-pH scan, and it’s almost more meaningful,” said Dr. Sadr. “Our goal is to limit the amount of X-ray exposure to the patient, and I think this technology will help with that.”

The current version of the O-pH device can assess roughly the surface area of one tooth at a time. A potential next step would be to utilize a high-speed camera to capture multiple surfaces in less time for a reading of all of a patient’s teeth in under a minute.

According to Dr. Sadr, the research team is working with other School of Dentistry and UW departments to prepare for clinical testing of this new video-based O-pH instrument.

Other co-authors of the study from the School of Dentistry include David Park, Se An, Micah Bovenkamp, Jess Cayetano, Ian Berude, and Zheng Xu, along with Lauren Lee from the UW Department of Microbiology, and Matthew Carson from the UW Human Photonics Laboratory. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, award IIP-1631146 “Oral Health Monitor – optical quantification of bacterial load, therapy monitoring, and caries prediction.” Support also came from the Institute of Translational Health Sciences and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

Research takes spotlight at school’s annual event

Dr. Rachel Kehr
Rachel Kehr

Dr. Rachel Kehr and Deborah Lee took first place in the Graduate Student Research Competition and Dental Student Research Competition respectively at this year’s School of Dentistry virtual Research Day.

Dr. Kehr, who was mentored by Dr. Avina Paranjpe, received her DDS from the school in 2020 and is now a resident in the Department of Endodontics. She received $500 from both the national and Seattle sections of the American Association of Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) and will present her work at the March 2023 International Association for Dental Research (IADR)/AADOCR meeting.

Deborah Lee
Deborah Lee

Lee, a second-year student mentored by Dr. Hannele Ruohola-Baker, received $200 from the Sigma Sigma Chapter of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society, and will represent the School of Dentistry at next year’s AADOCR Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and Its Application.

Alaa Alkhateeb, mentored by Dr. Donald Chi, was runner-up in the Graduate Student Research Competition, and will replace Kehr if she is unable to attend the IADR/AADOCR meeting.

Second-year students Lauren Lee, mentored by Dr. Zee Liu, and Madelyn Koh, mentored by Dr. Chi, received second and third place respectively in the Dental Student Research Competition, and will receive $150 and $100 for their projects.

Su-In Lee, PhD
Su-In Lee

Dr. Su-In Lee, a professor at the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, gave the keynote presentation, titled “Explainable Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.” Her research aims to advance how artificial intelligence can be integrated with biomedicine.

School of Dentistry faculty also gave presentations. Dr. John A. Sorenson’s subject was “Digital Prosthodontics – Ready for Private Practice or Just Glitzy Hype?” Dr. Roozbeh Khosravi presented his research on thermoforming plastic and 3D printed aligner-like devices in orthodontics, while Dr. Alireza Sadr discussed “Development of Optical Coherence Tomography: Benchside to Chairside.”

Social and behavioral scientists join forces for oral health

Dr. Cameron Randall
Dr. Cameron Randall

A large group of behavioral and social scientists, led by Dr. Cameron L. Randall of the University of Washington and Dr. Daniel W. McNeil of West Virginia University, are on a mission to throw the combined weight of their disciplines behind the effort to improve oral health globally.

“We’re trying to maximize the application of the behavioral and social sciences to oral health research and practice,” said Dr. Randall, a psychologist and member of the Department of Oral Health Sciences faculty at the School of Dentistry. “Are they being applied as robustly as possible, in the highest quality and most innovative ways?”

He and many of his colleagues think there’s substantial room for improvement in oral health research methods and in approaches to patients and the public in general.

“Because everyone’s oral health is strongly influenced by things like their environment, diet, health and oral hygiene behaviors, and access to and utilization of evidence-based interventions, there is much opportunity for impact if the behavioral and social sciences are fully tapped,” Dr. Randall said.

To that end, he and Dr. McNeil led the writing of a consensus statement for this movement that appeared Jan. 19 in the Journal of Dental Research, which is published by the International Association for Dental Research.

The statement, which has more than 400 endorsers, grew out of a three-day Behavioral and Social Oral Health Sciences Summit held in 2020. The virtual meeting, the first such international gathering of its kind, drew more than 400 people from 57 countries. After the meeting, the statement was produced with input from global stakeholders and several rounds of refinement. It reflects the current state of knowledge in the behavioral and social oral health sciences and identifies key future directions for the field.

Dr. Randall and his colleagues hope their efforts will spur broader conversations about translational science – which transforms discoveries into real-world practical applications – and multidisciplinary science, especially in dentistry and oral health.

“There is opportunity to better tap advances in disciplines such as psychology, sociology, economics, and political science,” he said. “We can tap innovations and current thinking in those areas and apply them to oral health interventions.”

Dentists and other oral health providers are prime targets for the movement. Dr. Randall noted that part of the consensus statement examines more immediate applications, such as clinicians’ use of innovative technology and person-centered approaches to promote behavioral change and prevent and treat dental disease.

He said, “We’re raising questions to be answered: What are the most effective behavioral interventions for patients? How can we motivate clinicians to quickly adopt these and other evidence-based interventions? How can we encourage them to use these approaches consistently?”

The target audience ranges well beyond dentists and other providers, too, he said. There’s a role for behavioral and social scientists to think about how to work with the community and community organizations to develop contextually appropriate oral health programs related to prevention and other goals.

He and his colleagues will also seek answers to this question: “How can behavioral and social scientists help develop structural changes to prevent dental disease and make oral health-care delivery more effective, accessible, and equitable?”

Even a seemingly unrelated field like economics can supply useful insights, Dr. Randall said, citing the example of taxing sugar to change consumer behavior. Research by Dr. Kristine Madsen of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health has found that taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages can significantly reduce their consumption, especially in low-income and diverse neighborhoods. These communities display the highest rates of obesity and diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and dental decay.

The next step for Dr. Randall and his colleagues will be addressing the gaps they’ve identified in current approaches to oral health research and interventions. “We’re asking people to fill those gaps,” he said. “We want the maximum impact for patients and providers alike. Thus, we want to make oral health researchers and other stakeholders aware of the consensus statement.”

The writers and endorsers of the statement hope the specific suggested future directions for research and its application will be good for science, patients, and communities, he said. Their aims are nothing if not ambitious. As Dr. Randall said: “This group is trying to determine what oral health equity looks like on a global scale and how to fully harness the behavioral and social sciences to help achieve it.”

The art of orthodontics: Dental students’ sculptures show their creative side

As they have done since 1966, first-year residents in the School of Dentistry’s Department of Orthodontics created wire sculptures for the department’s annual exhibition.

The sculptures must use primarily orthodontic materials – wire, rubber bands, and dental acrylic. Previous years’ entries have run the gamut from simple and elegant to creations as elaborate as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Lion King.

The annual event was sparked by Dr. Ben Moffett, a School of Dentistry professor emeritus of orthodontics who passed away in 2008 after three decades on the faculty. Dr. Moffett took a UW art class in form and function in the 1960s, after which he invited a lecturer on the subject to the dental school. The warmly received talks generated strong interest and led to the creation of the annual display.

This year’s entries came from the following entrants, who each furnished a description of their work.

Wire Coffee Brewer by Dr. Asher Chiu

Wire Coffee Brewer by Dr. Asher Chiu
For my wire sculpture I wanted to create something that is both esthetically pleasing and functional, like the arch wires we bend for our patients. The pour-over coffee maker made with soldered ortho wires was inspired by one of my favorite things – drinking freshly brewed coffee in the morning while camping in the wilderness. The wire coffee brewer is extremely lightweight, and, with a detachable filter holder, is a beautiful way to make pour-over coffee both on your kitchen countertop and by the campfire.

Delicate Arch by Dr. Deepa Gollamudi

Delicate Arch by Dr. Deepa Gollamudi
“After spending the past few years in Utah, my hiking adventures with friends and family were the most memorable! My wire sculpture was inspired by the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.”

Headgear by Dr. Kelly McMonagle

Headgear by Dr. Kelly McMonagle
“An interpretive cephalogram tracing made entirely from pieces of headgear.”

Karavaki by Dr. Eleftheria Iris Michelaki

Karavaki by Dr. Eleftheria Iris Michelaki
“This project is inspired from an old Greek tradition which still thrives today. “Karavaki,” meaning a small boat, represents a powerful symbol of moving toward a new life. Before the Christmas tree decoration, the tradition was to decorate boats with lights. Even if a family did not own a boat, they would use small model boats to decorate. Children would carry the model boats around along with musical instruments as they sang the Christmas carols to their neighbors.”

Dad and I by Dr. Kha Nguyen

Dad and I by Dr. Kha Nguyen
“My parents have always been involved in every step of my journey. It would only be right if I got my dad involved in this project so he can understand a bit more about what I’m doing and enjoying every day. I sketched the birds and he learned to bend the orthodontic wires. My dad bent one of the hummingbirds. The one he bent said so much about his personality and how he is to me: humble, encouraging, supportive and inspiring. Can you guess which one he made?”

Dr. Thomas Dodson named editor of oral surgery journal

The Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (JOMS) has named Dr. Thomas Dodson as its new Editor-in-Chief, effective Jan. 1.

Dr. Thomas Dodson, headshotDr. Dodson, who is professor and chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) and Head of the Northwest Center for Oral and Facial Surgery, has served as the journal’s associate editor since 2011.

“Throughout my career, JOMS has been the backbone of our specialty, supporting the science on which we rely as clinicians,” he said. “I am humbled to be given this trust as its curator and to accept the reins from those who have so ably led the Journal.”

JOMS – the official journal of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) – is a monthly publication that offers comprehensive coverage of new techniques, important developments, and innovative ideas in oral and maxillofacial surgery. The journal also includes specifics on new instruments and diagnostic equipment, and modern therapeutic drugs and devices.

Dr. Dodson has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, including approximately 100 in JOMS. In 2003 and 2010, he received the OMS Foundation Daniel M. Laskin Award for the year’s top scientific paper published in JOMS. He also served as principal investigator for AAOMS-sponsored nationwide studies assessing outcomes of office-based anesthesia and third molar (wisdom tooth) extractions in 2011-12.

Dr. Dodson joined the UW School of Dentistry in 2013 after he served as professor of OMS at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and as an attending surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned his DMD from Harvard School of Dental Medicine and his MPH from Harvard School of Public Health and completed his OMS training at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dental hygiene challenge grant campaign hits target

Buoyed by a flurry of December donations, the School of Dentistry’s campaign to match a challenge grant to support the Shoreline Community College dental hygiene program at its new UW home has reached its goal, officials have announced.

“I am thrilled that we completed the Delta Dental of Washington challenge grant and donations are still coming in,” Dean Gary Chiodo said.

Delta Dental initially gave $1 million in January to help fund the extensive renovations and new construction needed to support the dental hygiene program at the UW. The much-lauded program, which is still directed by Shoreline faculty, moved to the School of Dentistry in 2020.

At the UW, dental hygiene students work with dental students to treat patients much as they would in private practice. The dean has called the integrated programs “a model for dental and dental hygiene education.”

Shoreline Community College dental hygiene student Anela Becic treats a patient in the School of Dentistry’s pre-doctoral clinic. Shoreline Community College dental hygiene student Anela Becic treats a patient in the School of Dentistry’s pre-doctoral clinic.
Shoreline Community College dental hygiene student Anela Becic treats a patient in the School of Dentistry’s pre-doctoral clinic.

When Delta Dental made its initial gift, it also issued a $500,000 challenge grant with a deadline of Dec. 31. The Washington State Dental Association quickly joined the challenge campaign with a gift of $125,000, and the Seattle-King County Dental Society followed suit with a gift of $20,000.

In November, Dean Chiodo made a personal gift of $50,000 as a “challenge within a challenge,” pledging to match new donations to the Shoreline campaign up to that amount. At that time, Delta Dental also pledged to raise the level of its match from 1-to-1 to 2-to-1 until the $500,000 goal was reached.

The school will now realize at least $2 million in funding from the gifts to the campaign. Shoreline had already contributed $1.5 million to the expansion of its program, while the School of Dentistry also earmarked $1.5 million from its separate Campaign for Clinics fund-raising drive.

The campaign was launched amid an acute shortage of dental hygienists in Washington state, with a 2020 state Department of Health survey finding four open positions for every hygienist seeking work. The shortage is especially severe in King and Snohomish counties.

To help meet the demand, Shoreline and the School of Dentistry are planning to expand the two-year program back to its earlier level of 25 students per year as quickly as is feasible. Further expansion is possible as dictated by the dental workforce situation. To do so, however, requires extensive – and costly – work on the dental school’s clinical facilities, the dean said.

“These funds are essential as we complete renovation of our B350 clinic space and create a new simulation lab, as the first phase of infrastructure improvements that are needed for our partnership with Shoreline Community College,” he said. “We can now start planning for the second phase, which involves expansion of the existing D1 simulation lab and updating current clinical facilities that will be needed for expanding the dental hygiene class size back to 25 students per year. The new and improved operatories will benefit both the dental hygiene and dental students who will share the facilities to deliver efficient and outstanding patient care.”

With the Delta Dental match completed, the dean said, the dental school will now focus its capital fund-raising efforts on the Campaign for Clinics, which was launched in 2019 with a theme of “Imagine Our Future.” The campaign seeks to revitalize the school’s aging facilities, including much of the clinical infrastructure, and upgrade the school’s technological capabilities.

“As we learned in the process of renovating B350, it is costly to improve dental facilities in a building this old,” Dean Chiodo said. “We have more work to do to bring all of our clinical spaces up to date, and we will approach that incrementally, as capital funds come in.”

Staff member Chelsea Stone to be honored during Martin Luther King Jr. tribute

Chelsea Stone
Chelsea Stone works in the School of Dentistry’s Office of Educational Partnerships and Diversity, where she facilitates connections between student volunteers and organizations that serve Seattle-area people in need.

Chelsea Stone from the Office of Educational Partnerships and Diversity has been selected as the UW School of Dentistry’s recipient of the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award.

Each January the six University of Washington Health Sciences schools of and the University of Washington Medical Center pay tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a celebration honoring his life and legacy. The tribute includes acknowledgments of UW students, staff and faculty engaged in community service and volunteerism. One of the acknowledgments, the Community Service Award, honors individuals or groups who exemplify Dr.  King’s principles of service.

Chelsea was chosen in recognition of her efforts to help coordinate many of the School of Dentistry’s volunteer activities in service to underserved, low-income, and unhoused communities in Washington. She has been described as the trusted bridge between students who want to provide care for the most vulnerable of community members and various service organizations that meet these community members where they are.

Chelsea and the Community Service Award recipients from the other schools of the Health Sciences and UWMC will be honored during the UW Health Sciences Center’s annual tribute to Dr. King Jr.  during the week of Jan. 10, 2022.

Dr. Travis Nelson named chair of Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Travis NelsonThe University of Washington Board of Regents has approved the appointment of Dr. Travis Nelson to be chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry, the school has announced.

Dr. Nelson, who is an associate professor, had been acting chair of the department since 2018. He has also been serving as interim graduate program director while a national search is conducted for a permanent replacement for that position.

The department operates the school’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood. It has a two-year residency program and trains pre-doctoral dental students who cycle through the Center on rotations, along with dental hygiene students from the Shoreline Community College program.

“I am delighted that Dr. Nelson was approved for this critical position after being unanimously endorsed by our review committee,” said Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry. “He has been outstanding as the acting chair of the department and led initiatives related to process improvements, patient flow, clinical production and revenue, research, and public outreach. He is one of those faculty members to whom we refer as the ‘triple threat,’ in that he is accomplished in the areas of teaching, patient care, and scholarly activity.”

Dr. Nelson, who received his DDS from California’s Loma Linda University in 2007, joined the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in 2010 as an acting assistant professor after completing his residency in pediatric dentistry there. He was appointed clinic chief in 2016.

In 2012, he started a dental clinic for children with autism at the Center. It was believed to be one of the first such clinics and has earned recognition for its significant success in treating these children while using behavioral techniques. Dr. Nelson and his colleagues published their findings in 2017 in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

As acting chair, he worked with School of Dentistry administrators to reorganize the department, establishing clinical, administrative, and educational divisions. He also worked with colleagues to help integrate the school’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery into the Sand Point clinical facility, which is the school’s most modern.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, he led a team that was awarded a $2.25 million, five-year postdoctoral training grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant supports enhanced training in the care of children with special health care needs and is developing a network of sites in Washington to care for these children in collaboration with the state’s Access to Baby and Child Dentistry program.

He has also worked with the school’s Regional Initiatives in Dental Education program on grant-supported efforts to teach pediatric dentistry to dental hygiene students and enhance UW pre-doctoral dental training. In addition, he and other faculty leads throughout the school are collaborating on an interdisciplinary dentistry program for the care of medically and dentally complex children.

In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry bestowed on him its Jerome B. Miller “For the Kids” Award. The annual award, begun in 2007, goes to a pediatric dentistry clinician, researcher, or academician 45 years or younger for outstanding efforts directed to children’s oral health and welfare.

Voicing his appreciation for the support of the dean and school administrators during his time as acting chair, Dr. Nelson said his goals for the department included:

  • Growing and developing the school’s interdisciplinary dentistry program
  • Continuing to be the provider of choice for medically and dentally complex children throughout the WWAMI region

“I want to ensure that the UW’s advanced education in pediatric dentistry program continues to be one of the best in the world, with emphasis on accepting diverse candidates and graduating residents who are leaders in their communities,” he said.

Dean adds fund-raising twist to dental hygiene campaign: a grant within a grant

Dean Gary Chiodo of the University of Washington School of Dentistry has come up with a novel fund-raising twist to support dental hygiene training at the school: a challenge grant within a challenge grant.

Dean Gary Chiodo
Dean Gary Chiodo has issued his own matching challenge with a $50,000 personal pledge to help boost the drive to obtain Delta Dental of Washington’s $500,000 challenge grant for expansion of Shoreline Community College’s dental hygienist training at the UW School of Dentistry. At the same time, Delta Dental will also raise its match from 1:1 to 2:1 to speed progress toward the $500,000 goal. The campaign comes amid a critical shortage of dental hygienists in Washington state.

The school has been working with its partners in the dental community to raise $500,000 to match a challenge by Delta Dental of Washington by the end of this year. The challenge grant accompanied Delta Dental’s outright gift of $1 million to the campaign.

The fund-raising drive supports new infrastructure and renovation at the school to accommodate the Shoreline Community College dental hygiene program. The highly regarded program relocated to the UW last year after construction on its own campus required it to seek a different facility.

At a meeting of the dental school’s alumni board on Monday, Dean Chiodo pledged to match new contributions to the Delta Dental challenge grant campaign with up to $50,000 of his own money. His proposal was warmly received; board member Dr. Rick Crinzi  immediately pledged a gift of $10,000 from himself and his wife, Debbie.

Before making his announcement, the dean proposed to Delta Dental that it increase its match for the remainder of the challenge grant period from 1-to-1 to 2-to-1, and Delta Dental quickly agreed. If the goal is met by Dec. 31, the challenge gift will still be $500,000, but the heightened match means that contributions from here on out will enable the campaign to reach its target more quickly.

The dean said he expects that the combination of Delta Dental’s increased match and his own challenge pledge will make a substantial difference in the campaign’s remaining weeks. “The match within a double match means that every dollar pledged multiplies by a factor of six,” he said. “I think donors will appreciate the tremendous impact that their gifts will have because of this.”

The dental school seeks to boost enrollment in Shoreline’s program to at least 25 students per year, with further expansion as warranted by dental workforce needs. Currently, Washington state faces a critical shortage of dental hygienists. A state Department of Health survey last year found four open positions for every hygienist seeking work. The shortage is especially acute in King and Snohomish counties, where the survey found more than 550 openings.

In the Shoreline program, dental hygiene students work under Shoreline faculty direction with UW dental students, much as they would in private dental practice. Dean Chiodo has said that this distinctly benefits the students from both schools, calling the integrated programs “a model for dental and dental hygiene education.”

Shoreline has already contributed $1.5 million to the expansion of its program, while the School of Dentistry has also earmarked $1.5 million from its separate Campaign for Clinics fund-raising drive. The Washington State Dental Association has donated $125,000 and Seattle-King County Dental Society donated $20,000.

“Time is growing short,” Dean Chiodo said. “We have a chance to make a real difference in the quality of dental care in our state. This is a rare opportunity, and I hope we can take full advantage of it.”

Those who wish to donate to the challenge-grant campaign can do so at http://giving.uw.edu/dentalhygiene.

School to co-host virtual global conference on ethics

Dr. Subrata Saha is the conference’s founder and chair.
Dr. Subrata Saha is the conference’s founder and chair.

An international conference on ethics, co-hosted by the UW School of Dentistry, will discuss issues in medicine and related fields, including clinical trials and animal experiments, on Nov. 13-14.

The 10th International Conference on Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine, features 16 speakers from various UW Health Sciences departments, including the conference’s founder and chair, Dr. Subrata Saha. He holds faculty appointments in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the School of Dentistry.

Other key subjects for discussion will include ethical issues regarding conflicts of interest and regulatory issues for biomedical research, and research integrity and responsible conduct of research.

In addition to Dr. Saha, seven other School of Dentistry faculty speakers will be featured: Dr. Sue Herring, Dr. Daniel Chan, Dr. Thomas Dodson, Dr. Sara Gordon, Dr. Donald Chi, and Dr. Rod Wentworth. Dr. Lauren Hagel, a Department of Orthodontics resident, will also speak.

This year’s conference is hosted by the School of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dentistry and co-sponsored by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, UW-Bothell, Seattle University, and several other societies, institutions, and companies. While the conference is typically live and biennial, the Covid-19 pandemic forced its postponement to this fall along with a switch to a virtual format.

“Our goal is to bring together biomedical engineers, scientists, clinicians, dentists, philosophers, lawyers, students, and representatives from industry to discuss how to pave the way for safe and ethical advancement of implants, devices, drugs, and other technologies to improve the quality of life for our patients,” said Dr. Saha in his welcome message.

“The papers to be presented represent a broad spectrum of topics reflecting the exciting but sometimes controversial nature of many of our innovations,” said Dr. Saha.

He established the conference 23 years ago when he was a professor at Clemson University, where he held the conference’s first installment. “No one was talking about ethics in the field of biomedical engineering in the ‘90s, so I felt the need to bring up the topic,” said Dr. Saha.

While the Conference in Ethics started with a focus on biomedical engineering, Dr. Saha quickly realized that the need for ethical frameworks was growing in other fields. “Turns out in all of our meetings that there were doctors, dentists, scientists, so I decided, ‘Why not change it to include all of these fields?’ ” he said.

“I have witnessed [Dr. Saha’s] perseverance in pushing this symposium through to this stage, both in terms of obtaining funding and inviting speakers,” said Dr. Daniel Chan, chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry. “He worked across departments and collaborated with dental societies to make it happen.”

Now the conference is a central piece in advancing ethical frameworks across an array of science, engineering, and medical fields.

This year’s keynote lectures include “Evolving Issues Related to Conflict of Interest in Biomedical Research” by Dr. Howard Bauchner, previous editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and “Onco-ethics: Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Patient” by Kenneth W. Goodman of the University of Miami.

Speakers are encouraged to submit their papers for publication in Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal, for which Dr. Saha is editor-in-chief, after the conference.

While attendees may have preferred a live format, they acknowledge the benefits of a virtual presentation. “Although we can travel nationally now, much traveling is curtailed for many,” said Dr. Chan. “One example is our keynote speaker, the director from NIDCR (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a branch of the National Institutes of Health), was discouraged from traveling for non-essential trips. Virtual is the only way [for him] to go.”

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Saha, the conference has become a staple for a variety of fields, and School of Dentistry faculty members are excited to be co-hosting this year’s installment.

“In the past decade or so, [the school] has been refocusing on important intangible values such as ethics, diversity, etc.,” said Dr. Chan. “We are proud to host this symposium as a department and school, [which] will put UW in the forefront of dental education.”

A message from our dean

For decades, the University of Washington School of Dentistry has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading centers of dental education, oral health research, and patient care. In fact, it is recognized as one of the best in the world.

Dr. Gary ChiodoI believe that our educational mission is one of the most advanced and comprehensive in the nation. We train a highly qualified, diverse student body in a challenging learning environment informed by cutting-edge scholarship, with a faculty of unsurpassed quality and reputation. A rising focus on interprofessional education means that our students gain a better appreciation of how oral health relates to overall health. We have become the new home for the highly respected Shoreline Community College dental hygiene program. Their students work closely with ours in our clinics, better preparing everyone for real-world dental practice.

We are entering an era where dentists have the science, technology, and skills to manage their patients’ oral health more effectively than ever before. Our DDS program is moving forward in this innovative frontier with basic science taught in an interprofessional setting that includes medical students. Students who have an interest in rural practice can enter the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program, which takes them to underserved communities for much of their clinical training. Those who are interested in an academic career or research track can apply for a dual-degree (DDS/PhD) track. Our post-doctoral specialty programs include most dental subspecialties and offer certification as well as master’s degrees.

Outstanding patient care is both a mission and point of excellence at the School of Dentistry. As one of Washington’s biggest Medicaid dental providers, we are an integral part of the state’s public health safety net. All fourth-year students provide care for underserved/rural populations. Our school is also where private medical and dental health care providers refer their most medically complex patients with oral health care needs. In these cases, the patients’ oral health directly and adversely affects their general health. These patients include those who are pre-and post-transplant, those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, developmentally disabled children and adults, those living with advanced HIV-related disease, people with advanced and/or poorly controlled diabetes, patients with dementia, and persons living with certain genetic anomalies. Our clinics are often the only referral destinations in the state for these patients and receive referrals from dentists and physicians throughout Washington. In addition, our Dental Education in the Care of Persons with Disabilities (DECOD) clinic provides care for persons with a broad range of developmental and acquired disabilities, and also trains our students in this demanding specialty.

The School of Dentistry also has a robust research mission. Through the years, we have enjoyed an enviable national and international reputation as a center of dental research excellence. The school’s research programs contribute to understanding biological, behavioral, social, biomedical, genetic, and clinical aspects of dental and orofacial health. Three faculty members have received the American Dental Association’s Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, the ADA’s highest such honor. In addition, our former dean, Dr. Martha Somerman, received the ADA’s Gold Medal Award for research, the first woman to do so.

We value and promote diversity in our students, staff, faculty, and patients. We seek to foster an environment of mutual respect with objectivity, imaginative inquiry through lifelong learning, and the free exchange of ideas. Personal development, professionalism, and the highest ethical standards are foundational elements of our missions. Our greater goal is to improve the health and well-being of all our citizens and to reflect the best values of our University, the Pacific Northwest, and the nation.

I am honored and proud to be Dean of the School of Dentistry, even more so during the unprecedented public health challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. When Seattle became the initial epicenter of the breakout in the United States, our clinicians met the challenge squarely, especially at our oral surgery satellite clinic at Harborview Medical Center and at our Dental Urgent Care Clinic. They not only served with distinction while placing themselves at risk but also shared their hard-won knowledge of new clinical protocols with the rest of the dental community through webinars and research papers. We lead the way in including dental health care workers in the effort to vaccinate the population.

It is an exciting time for us, and I see great opportunities in all aspects of our mission. We are honored to serve our students, our patients, our dental community, and our state, and I hope that you share our pride in our values and accomplishments.

Former dean wins ADA Gold Medal for research

Dr. Martha Somerman Dr. Martha Somerman, who was dean of the School of Dentistry from 2002 to 2011, has become the first woman to win the American Dental Association’s Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research.

The award honors individuals who have helped advance the profession of dentistry or improve the oral health of the public through basic or clinical research. Established in 1985, the award is presented every three years and is sponsored by the ADA and Colgate.

Dr. Somerman, who came to the school from the University of Michigan, left to become director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health. During her deanship at the UW, the school launched the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education program, which has been extraordinarily successful.

She has also received the Geis Award, one of dental education’s top honors, from the American Academy of Periodontology and the Distinguished Scientist Award for Research in Oral Biology from the International Association for Dental Research. In the spring of 2011, she received the Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s top honor, the Goldhaber Award.

Dean Chiodo announces plans to step down

Citing health-related reasons, Dean Gary Chiodo has announced his intention to resign next year.

Dr. Gary ChiodoDean Chiodo, who came to the School of Dentistry a little more than three years ago, will continue to lead the school for the next 12 months as a national search begins for a new dean, University of Washington Provost Mark Richards said. Earlier, Dean Chiodo notified the dental school’s leadership with a message stating, “This is a very difficult decision for me; however, I have multiple myeloma and, while it is currently in remission following radiation and chemo, at my age, it is not likely to remain there indefinitely.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity provided to me over the past three years, look forward to a very productive year ahead, and will miss my colleagues here. Being the dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry is an extraordinary honor and privilege.”

“From the moment Dean Chiodo joined the UW in 2018 as interim dean of the School of Dentistry, he demonstrated extraordinary leadership – so much so that President Cauce and I asked him to take on the role permanently in 2020,” Provost Richards said in a message to the UW Board of Regents and School of Dentistry faculty, staff, and students.

Before taking up the reins at the School of Dentistry, the dean had been assistant director of the Center for Ethics in Health Care and professor emeritus in the Department of Community Dentistry at Oregon Health & Science University. From 2012 to 2014, he was interim dean at the OHSU School of Dentistry, which was facing financial challenges.

He stepped into a similar situation at the UW, where the dental school had incurred a series of growing annual operating deficits. He quickly turned the situation around, and in the last three fiscal years, the school has shown a positive balance sheet.

In addition, the school has maintained its high global ranking – seventh in this year’s Shanghai Ranking Consultancy’s Academic Ranking of World Universities and fifteenth in Britain’s Quacquarelli-Symonds World University Rankings. Under Dean Chiodo’s leadership, the school also hosted the relocation of the highly respected Shoreline Community College dental hygiene program. The Shoreline program will expand in the next few years, helping to address a critical shortage in the state’s dental workforce.

The dean will continue to tackle major tasks in the next year, including preparations for the school’s re-accreditation. He will also work on expanding the school’s Campus Dental Center faculty practice and continuing the Campaign for Clinics, a fund-raising effort to improve the school’s aging infrastructure and technology.

From 2014 to 2017, Dean Chiodo served as vice president and system compliance officer/organizational integrity with PeaceHealth, a nonprofit chain of hospitals, medical clinics and laboratories located in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. At OHSU, he was a longtime faculty member in the Department of Public Health Dentistry, attaining the rank of full professor in 1992. At the UW, he was appointed Professor – Clinical Dental Pathway.

Dean Chiodo was OHSU’s chief integrity officer from 2000 through 2011, overseeing health care compliance, human and animal subject research, environmental health and radiation safety, institutional biosafety, conflict of interest, audit and advisory services, information privacy and security, and compliance education.

The dean obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology from Portland State University in 1974 and his DMD from the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center in 1978. He earned a certificate in health care ethics from the UW School of Medicine in 1992.

He spent two decades practicing at a Portland public health dental clinic that treated the majority of identified HIV-positive persons in Oregon and southwest Washington. He has served on state and national committees related to public health, ethics, and infectious diseases. He has lectured internationally on these issues and has published more than 100 related peer-reviewed articles. In 2002, he was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Dentists.

He has also served on committees with the Oregon Health Division, the Oregon Health Authority, and on the board of the Oregon Public Health Association, and has held membership in the American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, and Oregon Dental Association. He has received OHSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Leadership and the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon HIV Honor Award.

“The School of Dentistry – and the UW more broadly – has greatly benefited from Dean Chiodo’s vision, dedication and skill in building consensus and garnering support from faculty, staff, students, alumni and stakeholders,” Provost Richards said in his message. “It has been a privilege and honor to have worked alongside him, and I look forward to finding a new dean to take this work forward.”

UW researchers reveal new aspects of gum disease and body’s protective response

A team led by University of Washington researchers has, for the first time, identified and classified how different people respond to the accumulation of dental plaque, the sticky biofilm that gathers on teeth. Their work, just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), sheds important new light on why some people may be more prone to serious conditions that lead to tooth loss and other problems.

Taking gingivitis sample from patients mouth
A sample of oral bacteria is taken from a study subject. Photo credit: Dr. Shatha Bamashmous

Left unchecked, plaque buildup can induce gingivitis, or gum inflammation. Gingivitis, in turn, can lead to periodontitis, a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and can destroy the bone that supports teeth. Not only can this result in tooth loss, but chronic inflammation can also spur other serious health consequences, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and bowel diseases.

The researchers also found a previously unidentified range of inflammatory responses to bacterial accumulation in the mouth. When bacteria build up on tooth surfaces, it generates inflammation, a tool the body uses to tamp down the buildup. Previously, there were two known major oral inflammation phenotypes, or individual traits: a high or strong clinical  response and a low clinical response. The team identified a third phenotype, which they called “slow”: a delayed strong inflammatory response in the wake of the bacterial buildup.

The study revealed for the first time that subjects with low clinical response also demonstrated a low inflammatory response for a wide variety of inflammation signals.  “Indeed, this study has revealed a heterogeneity in the inflammatory response to bacterial accumulation that has not been described previously,” said Dr. Richard Darveau of the UW School of Dentistry, one of the study’s authors.

His School of Dentistry colleague and study co-author Dr. Jeffrey McLean said, “We found a particular group of people that have a slower development of plaque as well as a distinct microbial community makeup prior to the start of the study.” The study authors wrote that understanding the variations in gum inflammation could help better identify people at elevated risk of periodontitis. In addition, it is possible that this variation in the inflammatory response among the human population may be related to the susceptibility to other chronic bacterial-associated inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.

In addition, the researchers found a novel protective response by the body, triggered by plaque accumulation, that can save tissue and bone during inflammation. This mechanism, which was apparent among all three phenotypes, utilizes white blood cells known as neutrophils. In the mouth, they act something like cops on the beat, patrolling and regulating the bacterial population to maintain a stable condition known as healthy homeostasis.

In this instance, plaque is not a villain. To the contrary, the researchers said that the proper amount and makeup of plaque supports normal tissue function. Studies in mice have also shown that plaque also provides a pathway for neutrophils to migrate from the bloodstream through the gum tissue and into the crevice between the teeth and gums.

When healthy homeostasis exists and everything is working right, the neutrophils promote colonization resistance, a low-level protective inflammatory response that helps the mouth fend off an excess of unhealthy bacteria and resist infection. At the same time, the neutrophils help ensure the proper microbial composition for normal periodontal bone and tissue function.

The researchers’ findings underscore why dentists preach the virtues of regular brushing and flossing, which prevent too much plaque buildup. “The idea of oral hygiene is to in fact recolonize the tooth surface with appropriate bacteria that participate with the host inflammatory response to keep unwanted bacteria out,” Dr. Darveau said. The bacteria start repopulating the mouth’s surfaces spontaneously and almost immediately afterward, Dr. Darveau said.

This research was part of a PhD thesis for Dr. Shatha Bamashmous, a clinician scientist in Dr. Darveau’s laboratory, and was conducted by a team researchers that included Dr. McLean, co-communicating author and colleague in the UW School of Dentistry’s Department of Periodontics; Dr. George Kotsakis of the University of Texas Health Science Center and formerly a UW Department of Periodontics member; Kristopher Kerns of the UW dental school’s Department of Oral Health Sciences; Dr. Brian Leroux, a biostatistician with the school’s Department of Oral Health Sciences; and Dr. Camille Zenobia, Dr. Dandan Chen, and Dr. Harsh Trivedi of the Colgate-Palmolive Company’s Department of Oral Health Research.

Once again, school’s commencement has different look

Although substantial progress has been made in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the University of Washington had to rule out live graduation exercises and other large gatherings this month. However, the School of Dentistry, as it did last year, came up with a creative solution.

School officials produced a video that included many of the key elements of the traditional Hooding ceremony normally held at the UW’s Meany Hall: a welcome by the dean, a keynote address by a faculty member, and remarks by the graduating class president. The video also included individual messages of appreciation from the students that would customarily be displayed onscreen at Meany Hall when each graduate walked the stage.

In addition to the video, the school held an unofficial graduation recognition event on June 5 at its satellite clinic at Sand Point. During the outdoor event, at which faculty and staff were fully masked regardless of vaccination status, students donned caps and gowns and received their diploma covers and a parting gift bag. Families and friends were on hand to join the faculty in delivering rousing applause and cheers for the graduates.

Student puts young tribal members on path to realize career dreams

This spring, Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt celebrated two graduations: her own from the UW School of Dentistry and that of 10 students from her Dreamstarter program.

Thanks to the Dreamstarter grant, an award presented by Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Mabbutt could establish and complete her program, which educates Native American youth on careers in healthcare.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth is a nonprofit whose mission is to help Native American communities meet their immediate survival needs while implementing supporting programs designed to create opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem. The organization was established by Billy Mills, who won the 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the only American ever to win gold in the event.

Cheered on by faculty members, Dr. Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt celebrates her graduation from the School of Dentistry. Dr. Bea Gandara, holding a “Congrats” sign, is at far right.
Cheered on by faculty members, Dr. Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt celebrates her graduation from the School of Dentistry. Dr. Bea Gandara, holding a “Congrats” sign, is at far right.

Mabbutt – now Dr. Mabbutt – started the program last Nov. 1, and it culminated on May 2 with a graduation ceremony for 10 students who participated in seven online sessions, one on the first Sunday of every month. The 10 students represented fifteen different Native American tribes, and the program was open to any indigenous student interested in pursuing a career in healthcare.

Dr. Mabbutt, who is enrolled in the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, was inspired to create a program for Native students to find their passion, because when she was going through school she found it difficult to know which path to take.

“I’m a first-generation college student and I had no idea how to navigate higher education,” she said. “I went to many, many pre-admissions workshops during my time in undergrad, and then even still after finishing my master’s in public health I really wasn’t sure which career to pick.” After completing her master’s degree at North Dakota State University, Mabbutt wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, and she knew she had the drive to do so. She even took the Medical College Admission Test without being certain that she wanted to go to medical school.

“I ended up attending a dental-focused workshop that was actually funded through the same team, Running Strong with Billy Mills,” she said. “We got to do a lot with our hands, and the hands-on part of it really struck home with me, and I said, ‘Okay, I know this is it, this is what I want to do.” Mabbutt said that the Running Strong program she attended walked her through the application process and explained her chances of getting into different schools.

“I just had more confidence to pursue dentistry at that point, so from my own experiences I wanted to replicate that same sort of program for other Native students and then start earlier, start in high school, because I really struggled when I was in college.”

She reached out to Dr. Bea Gandara, who directs the School of Dentistry’s Office of Educational Partnerships and Diversity (OEPD), to help with the Dreamstarter grant application. “Especially since I was an attendee for one of the Running Strong’s programs, I knew about Dreamstarter, but I never had the infrastructure to actually apply because the funding and a lot of the on-the-ground work has to go to a nonprofit. So I asked Dr. Gandara if OEPD would support me and they said yes,” said Dr. Mabbutt.

“I was very happy to support Lindsey in this program because she and I have worked together since before she started dental school to encourage underrepresented minority youth to pursue dentistry and other health professions,” said Dr. Gandara. “She had good experiences participating in programs like this herself and wanted to bring this to the UW School of Dentistry.”

Once the funding was secured, Dr. Mabbutt established a lesson plan for the students. “Each month the participants received a box that aligned with that month’s theme,” she said. The program focused on multiple health professions, so each month was dedicated to a specific field.

“They were mailed boxes, and within each box we included hands-on activities and information for that profession,” she said. “So for dentistry, the box they got included information about dental school, and we included a soap carving activity where you carved teeth out of soap. For our veterinary medicine day, they got animal models, and [for the] nursing day they got a stethoscope kit.”

Along with creating the hands-on activities, Dr. Mabbutt would reach out across the country to the respective public health professionals from Native backgrounds to speak to the students. “After that it would be time for Q and A, and then we’d have a presentation sort of about what the journey into that profession is like. Then we did the hands-on activity.”

Dr. Mabbutt has accepted a job with the Swinomish tribe in Washington as a general dentist with the tribe. She is confident that her program will continue after she departs. “The school has agreed to try and make the program sustainable, and [although] we don’t have the official funding from Dreamstarter to do this next year… they do have opportunities for us to re-apply, so I think the chances of us being able to continue the program are really high,” she said.

“I am very satisfied with the way the program turned out,” said Dr. Gandara. “We will seek more funding and hope to continue with a hybrid model where we can have online sessions and also meet with the students at their schools or at the dental school to build a supportive community.”

Symposium to examine dentistry’s post-pandemic future

Dentistry has made dramatic strides in the last generation, thanks to advances in materials and technology. More change is certain to come, but the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the form this change will take.

Dr. Linda LeResche
Dr. Linda LeResche, Professor Emeritus, Oral Medicine

Four panels of prominent figures in dentistry met in May to discuss related issues surrounding the future of dentistry. On June 19 and 26, representatives of these panels will summarize their discussions at the 2021 Arcora Foundation Distinguished Professor in Dentistry Symposium, which will consist of interactive webinars. With a theme of “The Changing Face of Dentistry,” the symposium and earlier panel discussions were organized by Dr. Linda LeResche, the Arcora Foundation Distinguished Professor at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

Topics for the May discussions included:

  • Teledentistry/telehealth
  • Medication management of the oral microbiome for oral and systemic health
  • Salivary diagnostics
  • Digital dentistry and automation
  • Vaccination as a routine part of dental practice
  • Machine learning, data science, and the electronic health record
  • Oral health in marginalized groups
  • Our aging population
  • Changes in where dentists practice – private practice, corporate dentistry, etc.
  • Integration of dental and medical practice
  • Changing responsibilities within the dental team

On June 19 and 26, after each panel’s representative presents their findings, each session will break up into discussion groups where dental practitioners can talk about what has been presented and hear from the panelists. At the end of the session, the webinar group will reconvene for a brief discussion of what was covered.

Dr. LeResche is reviewing all the data from each panel meeting and creating a table of most important trends, what is driving them, evidence for them, and how dentistry should respond. Each panel will write a paper on their findings, and Dr. LeResche will summarize the panels’ work in a paper for the Journal of Dental Research: Clinical and Translational Research.

Panel themes and members are:

Innovations and new technologies

  • Wenyuan Shi, PhD, President, CEO & Chief Scientific Officer, The Forsyth Institute
  • Laurie McCauley, DDS, MS, PhD, Dean, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan
  • Michelle Robinson, DMD, MA, Executive Associate Dean, School of Dentistry, University of Alabama
  • Alexandre Dasilva, DDS, DMedSc, Associate Professor, University of Michigan

Scope of practice and interaction with other health professions

  • Christian Stohler, DMD, Dean, College of Dental Medicine, Columbia University
  • Sara Gordon, DDS, MS, Professor & Associate Dean, University of Washington
  • Christine Riedy Murphy, MA, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor & Chair, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
  • Marko Vujicic, PhD, Chief Economist & Vice President, American Dental Association

Demographics and access to care

  • Judith Albino, PhD, President Emerita & Professor, University of Colorado
  • Christopher Okunseri, BDS, MSc, MLS, DDPHRCSE, FFDRCSI, Professor, Marquette University
  • Jocelyne Feine, DDS, MS, HDR, FITI, FCAHS, Professor, McGill University
  • Marita Inglehart, Dr. Phil. Habil., Professor, University of Michigan

Practice structure and organization

  • Kathryn Atchison, DDS, MPH, Professor, UCLA
  • Richard Valachovic, DMD, MPH, Professor, New York University
  • Jeffrey Fellows, PhD, Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
  • Ron E. Inge, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, COO, VP of Professional Services, Delta Dental of Missouri

Dr. LeResche is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Oral Medicine at the UW School of Dentistry. Before retiring, she was Professor of Oral Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Oral Health Sciences and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty at the school, as well as Affiliate Investigator at the Kaiser-Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. She holds a doctoral degree in comparative behavior from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in mental disorder epidemiology there.

She conducted pain research at UW for over 30 years and played a key role in developing research diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorders (TMD). She also studied the epidemiology of TMD and other pain problems in adults and adolescents, with a focus on gender differences in chronic pain and the role of hormonal factors in TMD. Her more recent research assessed the effectiveness of opioids for chronic pain in older adults.

From 1991-2010, she directed the School of Dentistry’s summer research fellowship program, funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the National Institutes of Health. She received the American Association for Dental Research’s inaugural Mentor of the Year Award in 1998. From 2007-2011 she held an NIDCR grant to enhance the school’s teaching of evidence-based dentistry. She currently co-directs the multidisciplinary pre-doctoral translational research training program of the Institute of Translational Health Sciences, the UW’s chapter of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program. In 2020, she was named Distinguished Senior Scientist of the International Association for Dental Research’s Neuroscience Group.

School continues strong showing in world rankings

The University of Washington School of Dentistry again ranks among the world’s best dental schools, placing No. 7 globally in the  Shanghai Ranking Consultancy’s 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) subject rankings.

Six of the top seven schools in the field of dental and oral sciences, led by the University of Michigan at No. 1, were American.

The UW’s high ARWU ranking comes in the wake of another strong showing earlier this year in Britain’s Quacquarelli-Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. The 2021 QS rankings, whose metrics are more broadly based than ARWU’s, placed the School of Dentistry fourth in the United States and 15th in the world. For the last several years in both surveys, the school has consistently placed among the world’s top 15 and the United States’ top half-dozen, rising as high as No. 3 globally.

Asher Chiu and Dean Gary
The School of Dentistry’s commitment to research has been underscored by its annual Research Day, which included poster presentations by students. In 2019, before the pandemic forced a shift to a virtual format, student Asher Chiu is shown with Dean Gary Chiodo.

“We are extremely gratified to continue to be ranked so highly in the U.S. and in the world,” said Dean Gary Chiodo. “This is one measure that confirms that we are an outstanding dental school.”

The ARWU survey heavily weights research performance and reputation, as indicated by peer-reviewed journal citations and other metrics. Shanghai Jiao Tong University began issuing its rankings in 2003.

The School of Dentistry places a high priority on research, reflecting the UW’s global identity as a leading research university. Nor are research activities confined to faculty and full-time researchers. Students also pursue research under faculty mentorship through programs such as the Summer Research Fellowship Program and the Multidisciplinary Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program. The school also offers a DDS/PhD track that allows students to pursue advanced research after earning their dental degree.

In addition, the school is home to the Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health, which since 2013 has promoted international collaborations in dental research and education. For three decades, the school also conducted the Summer Institute in Dental and Craniofacial Clinical Research Methods, drawing participants from dozens of countries. The COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the institute last year, but the program was recast this year as Craniofacial and Oral Health Online (COHO) Summer Institute, offered in partnership with the Seattle Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Center. This interactive online institute will provide eight modules over two months with training in the areas of planning a research project, clinical epidemiology/study design, clinical trials, surveys and measurement, biostatistics, and ethics.

While the pandemic posed special challenges to researchers everywhere during the past year, the school stepped to the forefront in conducting studies on the pandemic and oral health clinical procedures. Faculty members at the school’s satellite oral surgery clinic at Harborview Medical Center and in other departments published a number of papers after Seattle became the initial U.S. epicenter of the outbreak.

“Our faculty, staff, and students comprise the team that makes us successful,” Dean Chiodo said. “These dedicated and talented colleagues maintain a continual focus on excellence in our mission areas of teaching, patient care, research, and outreach.”

School honors outstanding staff members

The School of Dentistry has honored five outstanding staff members with its annual Distinguished Staff Awards, recognizing people whose work is vital but often goes unsung. The winners are:

  • Jen Albrecht, Service Learning Rotation Manager, Office of Regional Affairs. Said one nominator: “Jen is a delight to work with, always positive, supportive, and a good communicator to all team members.”
  • Becky Allen, Manager of Clinical Operations, Department of Orthodontics.  Nominator comment: “Her goal is to make things a win-win for all parties. This is not an easy task, but she does all of this with a ‘can-do’ attitude which has greatly improved the morale of our entire clinic, even during this past year of Covid.”
  • Virginia Daugherty, Grants Manager, Office of Regional Affairs. Nominator comments: “She takes great pride in always performing at her highest and ensuring that those around her are set up for success.” “Virginia’s positivity is absolutely infectious.”
  • Chalet White, Dental Clinic Supervisor, Sterilization. Nominator comment: “Chalet’s high expectations and standards [for] herself [are] the example her team follows for the health and safety of our patients, students, faculty, and staff.”
  • Yvonne Wilson, Dental Assistant 2, Predoctoral Clinic. Nominator comment: “She recognizes potential problems or issues for the clinic sessions and, in consultation with the clinical faculty, will offer solutions to solve the problems for the session.”

Traditionally, the winners have been honored at an annual schoolwide staff luncheon. This year, Dean Gary Chiodo, the winners and other nominees, along with their supervisors, have celebrated the recognition with smaller events in individual units. Click here for a closer look at the winners and other nominees.

“I extend my heartiest congratulations to the Distinguished Staff Award winners and to the rest of the outstanding nominees,” Dean Chiodo said. “Our excellent staff are critical to the success of our curriculum, clinics, research and service programs.”

Endodontics residents shine again in research competition

Elise Ellingsen
Dr. Elise Ellingsen

For the 16th consecutive year, UW Department of Endodontics graduate residents have won research awards at the annual meeting of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE).

Dr. Elise Ellingsen won first place in the research poster competition for her presentation titled “Determining the differentiation pathway of N-acetyl cysteine-treated SCAP.”

Dr. Lisa Sonntag won second place in the table clinic (clinical tip) presentation competition for “Achieving robust occlusal marking with one simple step.”

Lisa Sonntag
Dr. Lisa Sonntag

Dr. Melinda Lee won 10th place in the research oral presentation competition for “Effects of cold on Vortex Blue and ProTaper NiTi rotary files.”

All three residents were mentored by Dr. Avina Paranjpe of the department faculty. Dr. Sonntag was also mentored by Dr. James Johnson, chair of the department. All eight of the department’s residents, including the recently graduated Dr. Nerisa Limansubrato, took part in the competitions. Entrants included between 50 and 60 residents from endodontic programs in the United States and Canada.

Melinda Lee
Dr. Melinda Lee

The AAE, founded in 1943, is a global resource for knowledge, research and education for the profession, members, and the public. Its recent annual meeting was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Apichai Yavirach named Magnuson Scholar

Apichai Yavirach, a PhD candidate in the Department of Oral Health Sciences, has been named the School of Dentistry’s 2021-22 Magnuson Scholar selectee. He is one of the six UW Health Sciences recipients of the scholarship, one of the UW’s top academic awards. One student is selected annually from each of the Health Sciences schools: Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work.

Dr. Apichai Yavirach won the School of Dentistry’s Research Day graduate student poster competition in 2020.

Dr. Yavirach received a DDS degree from Chiang Mai University in Thailand in 2015, after which he entered the university’s graduate prosthodontics program. At the UW, he has worked in the lab of Dr. Cecilia Giachelli of the Department of Bioengineering, studying bone biology and calcification.

“As a dentist, I’m interested in applying basic sciences research to clinical aspects,” he said. “Therefore, I have been working on the particular disease called medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ). This is a serious side effect of antiresorptive drugs prescribed to more than 10 million patients all around the world. However, the pathophysiology of MRONJ still remains elusive and there is currently no effective treatment, making this a growing clinical problem. With the engineered cells developed in our lab, I am able to study particular types of cells potentially playing a role in MRONJ. I strongly believe that these studies will give more insights to one of the biggest concerning questions in a dental field.”

Dr. Yavirach, who was a Fulbright Scholar in 2017-19, won the American Association for Dental Research Student Award at the School of Dentistry’s annual Research Day last year and also holds a scholarship in geriatric sciences for dental care from the Thai government. After he obtains his PhD, he plans to return to Thailand and resume teaching at Chiang Mai University. Along with teaching, he plans to continue working as a clinician while he pursues further studies on bone biology.

“I believe in the power of education,” he said. “It can bring people from different backgrounds together. It can translate what we learn from a lab bench to a global scale. Being a Magnuson Scholar supports my belief that together we can move our health sciences field forward.”

The scholarships, which commemorate U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, are funded from a $2 million endowment from the Warren G. Magnuson Institute for Biomedical Research and Health Professions Training. The late Sen. Magnuson was a strong supporter of biomedical research and he played key roles in creating Medicare, Medicaid, and the National Institutes of Health. The scholarship recipients are chosen for their academic performance and potential contributions to research in the health sciences.

Trials begin on lozenge that rebuilds tooth enamel

Before too long, you may be able to buy a breath mint that rebuilds your tooth enamel while it whitens your teeth, thanks to a team of University of Washington researchers.

The team is preparing to launch clinical trials of a lozenge that contains a genetically engineered peptide, or chain of amino acids, along with phosphorus and calcium ions, which are building blocks of tooth enamel. The peptide is derived from amelogenin, the key protein in the formation of tooth enamel, the tooth’s crown. It is also key to the formation of cementum, which makes up the surface of the tooth root.

Each lozenge deposits several micrometers of new enamel on the teeth via the peptide, which is engineered to bind to the damaged enamel to repair it while not affecting the mouth’s soft tissue. The new layer also integrates with dentin, the living tissue underneath the tooth’s surface. Two lozenges a day can rebuild enamel, while one a day can maintain a healthy layer. The lozenge – which can be used like a mint – is expected to be safe for use by adults and children alike.

Graphic of calcium building lozenge
The lozenge uses a genetically engineered peptide, along with phosphorus and calcium ions, to build new layers of enamel on teeth.

The researchers have been discussing commercial applications with potential corporate partners, according to Professor Mehmet Sarikaya, the team leader. He is a professor in the Department of Materials Research Science and Engineering and adjunct professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences. Also playing a critical role is Dr. Sami Dogan of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dentistry faculty.

The lozenge produces new enamel that is whiter than what tooth-whitening strips or gels produce. It has another distinct advantage: Conventional whitening treatments rely on hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent that can weaken tooth enamel after prolonged use. Since tooth enamel can’t regrow spontaneously, the underlying dentin can be exposed, with results ranging from hypersensitivity to cavities or even gum disease. The lozenge, on the other hand, strengthens, rebuilds, and protects teeth.

While fluoride can also fortify tooth enamel, it does not actively rebuild it. It also dilutes relatively quickly, and its overall effectiveness depends largely on diligent oral hygiene. At the same time, the lozenge can also be used in conjunction with fluoride, Dr. Dogan said. The fluoride can be in a very low concentration, he added – about 20 percent of what is found in most fluoride toothpastes.

“We have three objectives in the clinical trial,” Professor Sarikaya said. “First, demonstrate efficacy. Second, documentation. Third, benchmarking – seeing how the whitening effect compares to existing commercial treatments.” The researchers have already tested the lozenge on extracted teeth from humans, pigs, and rats, and also on live rats.

The team also plans to develop related products for use in dental offices, Dr. Dogan said, expecting this phase of trials to start in March or April. “Each study will take two weeks, and we expect these trials to take no more than three months,” he said. The team is also developing a toothpaste for over-the-counter use, but has not fixed a timetable for its introduction.

In addition, the researchers are investigating a gel or solution with the engineered peptide to treat hypersensitive teeth. This problem results from weakness in the enamel that makes the underlying dentin and nerves more vulnerable to heat or cold. Most common products currently on the market can put a layer of organic material on the tooth and numb nerve endings with potassium nitrate, but the relief is only temporary. The peptide, however, addresses the problem permanently at its source by strengthening the enamel.

The idea for the lozenge design originated with Deniz Yucesoy, a graduate student in the UW’s Genetically Engineered Materials Science and Engineering Center who received a $100,000 Amazon Catalyst grant through CoMotion, UW’s commercialization center, to support the initial project. Key contributions also came from Hanson Fong, a research scientist in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

School holds COVID-themed virtual Research Day

Eric Xu was selected as the winner of the School of Dentistry’s annual student research competition in conjunction with the school’s annual Research Day this week. Xu, a second-year student who was mentored by Dr. Sumita Jain  and Dr. Diane Daubert of the school’s faculty, was recognized for his study titled “Veillonella demonstrates increased biofilm growth when exposed to titanium particles.”

As winner of the competition, judged by the school’s Research Advisory Committee and the Student Research Group, Xu received a $200 scholarship from the Omicron Kappa Upsilon national dental honor society. He will also represent the school in the American Association for Dental Research/Dentsply Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research in 2022.

John Scott
Dr. John Scott

Classmates Isabelle Hwang, mentored by Dr. Tracy Popowics, and Kevin Xu, mentored by Dr. Dan Chan, were selected as the second-place and third-place winners respectively and will receive $150 and $100 scholarships.

The winning students and the competition’s other entrants participated in the school’s Summer Research Fellowship Program (SURF), which is funded by the University of Washington Morell Endowment and the UW Dental Alumni Association. SURF gives School of Dentistry students a stipend and allowance for expenses to pursue research under faculty supervision.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Research Day, conducted on Zoom, was a marked departure from previous years, which featured research poster presentations in the Health Sciences lobby. Instead, presentations were delivered virtually, as were faculty talks. The theme of the event was “How research and evidence inform the future of dentistry in the post-pandemic world.”

Dr. John Scott, Professor of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the UW School of Medicine, gave the keynote address. Dr. Scott, who is Medical Director of UW Digital Health, spoke on “The effect of the COVID-19 epidemic on telemedicine and teledentistry: Looking to the future.”

School of Dentistry faculty speakers included:

  • Daniel Chan, Chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry: “COVID-19 pandemic research opportunity: restorative dentistry perspective”
  • Jacqueline Wong, Clinical Instructor in the Department of Oral Medicine: “Telehealth at the UWSOD during COVID-19 and beyond”
  • Mark Drangsholt, Chair of the Department of Oral Medicine: “Can telehealth advance dentistry?”

Fourth-year research elective dental students gave video presentations, as did graduate students and SURF students.

School recognizes two faculty members for outstanding teaching

The School of Dentistry has honored Dr. Xavier Lepe and Dr. Sami Dogan with its highest faculty recognition, the Bruce R. Rothwell Awards for Teaching Excellence.

At a Zoom faculty meeting on Wednesday, Dr. Lepe received the Bruce R. Rothwell Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award, which is given to senior or emeritus faculty members. Dr. Dogan received the Bruce R. Rothwell Distinguished Teaching Award, which goes to a junior or mid-career faculty member.

Dr. Xavier Lepe
Dr. Xavier Lepe

Dr. Lepe, who is Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry and Director of the Division of Prosthodontics, joined the faculty in 1993 after teaching for 10 years at Loyola University of Chicago.

One student wrote in support of his nomination: “If corrections are needed during a procedure, he always provides us with direct, positive, and constructive feedback following each and every clinical session and away from the patient to ensure their confidence in us is not lost. He allows us to be independent while working with our patients but knows when to step in if necessary.”

Another student wrote: “He has guided a generation of students at both the pre-clinical and clinical levels, and he is a huge reason graduates are able to maintain the school’s exceptional reputation.”

Dr. Dogan, an Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry, joined the faculty in 2005 after teaching at Germany’s Leibniz Universität Hannover for four years.

He has been recognized by students for teaching excellence several times, and a faculty colleague wrote in support of his nomination: “He delivers thoughtful, innovative, and engaging presentations, hosts productive and interactive small-group discussions, has successfully and quickly adapted his teaching modalities in response to the most recent pedagogical shift, and encourages critical and independent thinking, all of which ultimately motivate students to perform at their highest level.”

The awards were created in 2001 to commemorate Dr. Bruce R. Rothwell, who chaired the school’s Department of Restorative Dentistry from 1993 until his death from kidney cancer in 2000 at the age of 52. Renowned as a forensic dentist, he served as a consultant to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office and in the 1980s worked with UW colleague Dr. Tom Morton to identify victims in the Green River serial murder case.   He was posthumously honored by the American Society of Forensic Odontology.

Dr. Rothwell also directed the School of Dentistry’s General Practice Residency program and was noted for his expertise in teaching, research, and care of medically compromised patients. He devised Rothwell’s Solution, a painkilling mouthwash still in use to help patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for mouth cancers.

New grant supports researcher training in UW-Kenya partnership

The Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health at the UW School of Dentistry has received a grant from the UW Global Innovation Fund to help train junior researchers in Kenya in skills to facilitate publishing their work.

The grant helps support a partnership between the UW and the University of Nairobi that goes back more than 25 years. In 2016, the DeRouen Center and the University of Nairobi launched an ambitious effort to combat the oral consequences of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among Kenya’s children. The Children’s Healthy Oral Management Project (CHOMP) also involved the UW Department of Global Health in an effort to train pediatric dentists, community oral health officers, and nurses to screen and treat children’s HIV-related oral issues.

The new funding will go to train junior Kenyan researchers to publish their research work by implementing a curricular program in manuscript writing. The grant will also provide support for journal submission fees. The goal is to enhance representation in scholarly journals and boost opportunities for collaborative publication among the Kenyan trainees.

The Global Innovation Fund distributes awards through the UW Office of Global Affairs. The awards support research collaborations that advance interdisciplinary efforts around the world.

Delta Dental gives $1 million for dental hygiene training at UW

Delta Dental of Washington has announced a $1 million grant to the University of Washington School of Dentistry to support a partnership between Shoreline Community College’s Dental Hygiene Program and the dental school. In addition, to further the growth of the program, Delta Dental will issue a $500,000 challenge grant to match funds raised by area dental and dental hygienist societies this year.

Shoreline dental hygiene student Vanessa Wardell prepares for clinic at the UW School of Dentistry.
Shoreline dental hygiene student Vanessa Wardell prepares for clinic at the UW School of Dentistry.

The funds will help cover the costs of renovations needed to accommodate expansion of Shoreline’s dental hygienist training program at the UW. Shoreline Community College is contributing $1.5 million to the expansion, and the School of Dentistry has also earmarked $1.5 million from its Campaign for Clinics fund-raising drive.

Shoreline’s highly regarded two-year program is considered one of the best in the state, and talks between the two schools quickly revealed an interest in collaborating on a long-term plan to allow the program to expand. In the fall of 2020, 10 Shoreline students in the second year of their program began training at the UW. This summer, the program will fully relocate to the UW with the dental hygiene students continuing to earn their degree from Shoreline Community College.

Delta Dental’s support will enable the program to expand quickly. With the dental community’s help, the goal is to enroll 25 students per year, hopefully within two years.

A 2020 Department of Health survey of dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants found that:

  • Dental hygienist positions in Washington are open an average of four months before being filled.
  • For every hygienist seeking a position, there are over four positions available.
  • The greatest number of open hygienist positions were in King and Snohomish counties with over 550 openings at the time of the survey.

“When the Seattle King County Dental Society approached us about the challenges at the Shoreline Community College Dental Hygiene Program, we knew we needed to do something,” said Delta Dental of Washington President and CEO Mark Mitchke. “Given our partnership with the Washington State Dental Association, we have made a commitment to address the dental hygienist and assistant workforce shortage in Washington state. Ensuring that our state’s future dental hygienists have access to high-quality education is the first of many activities we will embark on together.”

He added, “We applaud the University of Washington’s commitment to sustaining the Shoreline dental hygiene program and increasing the number of graduates to the historical level of 25 per year at minimum.”

The need for dental hygienists in our state is expected to grow, and the door is open for further expansion of the UW-Shoreline program, given the urgent need documented by workforce data.

“Obtaining a match to the challenge grant will enable aspirational planning for even larger class sizes to better serve our state,” Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry and President Cheryl Roberts of Shoreline said in a joint statement. “Over the next few months, we will work closely with our partners at Delta Dental of Washington, the Washington State Dental Association, and the Washington Dental Hygienists’ Association to raise the matching funds from additional dental and dental hygiene societies throughout the state.”

When the two schools announced their partnership last year, Dean Chiodo said, “The integrated programs created a model for dental and dental hygiene education.” Having dental hygiene students learn and practice in tandem with dental students, he said, mimics the way in which they would work together in dental offices after graduation.

In their joint statement, he and Dr. Roberts cited another advantage. The School of Dentistry has robust programs of care for pediatric and medically compromised patients as well as those with special needs. The dental hygiene students will now have the opportunity to work with these patients, further enriching their training.

“This is an exciting time for the advancement of oral health in Washington, and the Shoreline-School of Dentistry partnership is exactly the right combination at the right moment,” the two leaders said.

Orthodontics residents show their artistry with wire sculptures

Continuing a 54-year-old tradition, five first-year residents in the UW School of Dentistry’s Department of Orthodontics have crafted wire sculptures for the department’s exhibition.

The sculptures range from a portrayal of the Seattle skyline to a portrait of a resident’s Samoyed dog. As always, the sculptures must use primarily orthodontic materials – wire, rubber bands, and dental acrylic. In previous years, residents have created everything from a model town to the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Lion King.

The annual sculpture event was inspired by Dr. Ben Moffett, a School of Dentistry professor emeritus of orthodontics who passed away in 2008 after three decades on the faculty. After taking a UW art class in form and function in the 1960s, he invited a lecturer on the subject to the School of Dentistry for weekly talks. They drew strong interest, which led to the creation of the annual display.

This year’s entries came from the following entrants, who each furnished a description of their work.

My Neighbor Totoro, by Dr. Ellen Hoang

Dr. Ellen Hoang
My Neighbor Totoro

This was inspired by the Studio Ghibli film of the same name, which is about two young sisters who explore their new home and befriend some cuddly, cute, playful spirits (one of which is Totoro). Growing up with Studio Ghibli films, I always admired the creative storylines and artistic attention to detail. As I pursue orthodontics, I hope to continue to celebrate imagination and artistry with my patients.

From Tahoe to Ortho, by Dr. Ameen Shahnam

Dr. Ameen Shahnam
From Tahoe to Ortho

This is a cartographically accurate depiction of Lake Tahoe with abstract Sierra Nevadas bordering it. I grew up near Lake Tahoe and have yet to find rival to its natural splendor. Lake Tahoe is 2 million years old and amongst the 20 oldest lakes in the world. It sits at 6,225 feet above sea level, making it the largest alpine lake in North America. It is the sixth-largest lake by volume in the United States, coming after only the five Great Lakes. It is also the second-deepest lake in the United States. It has some of the purest water of any lake in the world with a visibility of 70.3 feet, which is readily apparent to any visitor, as the lake enjoys sunshine 75 percent of the year on average. It is home for me and where my mind wanders on a rainy Seattle day.

Giant Pacific Octopus, by Dr. Kaitlyn Tom

Dr. Kaitlyn Tom
Giant Pacific Octopus

Having grown up near water, I’ve always been fascinated by marine life. At the Seattle Aquarium, my favorite exhibit is the Giant Pacific Octopus. Found on the western coast of North America, it is the largest and longest living octopus species. The biggest ever recorded was 600 pounds and 30 feet in length! With nine brains, thousands of powerful suckers, and perhaps the greatest disappearing act ever seen, the Giant Pacific Octopus is one of the stealthiest and most formidable aquatic hunters on the planet.

Monty, by Dr. Sherry Wan

Dr. Sherry Wan

This sculpture is of my Samoyed puppy, Monty, who is an Instagram pupfluencer (@teddy.and.monty). Samoyeds are known for their “Sammy Smile,” as they are good-natured sled dogs originating from Siberia. Even when they don’t smile with their tongues out, the corners of their lips naturally curl up to prevent icicle formation (although not much of a concern in the Seattle climate).

See-It-All Skyline, by Dr. Erin Yoshida

Dr. Erin Yoshida
See-It-All Skyline

The Seattle skyline is among the most distinctive in the United States, with the iconic Space Needle looming above architectural buildings. The view can’t be complete without the Seattle Great Wheel and a little sailboat!

School launches drive to fund dental care for combat veterans

Dr. Theresa Cheng
Dr. Theresa Cheng chats with a veteran in 2013.

As Veterans Day nears, the UW School of Dentistry has begun a fund-raising campaign to support free dental treatment for low-income U.S. combat veterans and their families at the school’s clinics.

The school is reaching out to alumni and other supporters to seek funds that would allow it to treat Washington state veterans and their families at no charge.

“Our general and specialty clinics are honored to be of service to those who have served our country,” Dean Gary Chiodo said in his appeal to prospective donors.

The venture grew out of Everyone for Veterans, an organization started by Dr. Theresa Cheng of the school’s faculty in 2008. She created a grass-roots network of dental volunteers who treated low-income veterans who had served in combat or other areas of hazardous duty and couldn’t afford private care.

The Veterans Administration does provide dental care, but only if a veteran is declared 100 percent disabled with a service connection. “This means that many combat veterans do not receive dental services and often spend a lifetime with untreated dental diseases because treatment is unaffordable,” Dean Chiodo said.

Dr. Cheng’s nonprofit organization has grown to more than 400 dentists plus specialists and dental labs providing free services to low-income veterans who have deployed to combat areas. Some of these veterans served as long ago as World War II.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Everyone for Veterans was helping more than 100 veterans a year. “We do a general screening, and we tell our volunteer dentists that we want to address not only urgent needs but provide comprehensive care,” Dr. Cheng said.

However, Dr. Cheng also wanted to get dental schools involved, and the UW was one of the first to step up. The campaign, called Everyone for Veterans at the UW, will support clinical care to be delivered mainly by fourth-year dental students under faculty supervision.

Dr. Cheng was honored for her work by the UW in 2019 with its Award of Excellence and also received the 2017 Washington State Outstanding Service to Veterans Award.

“We can’t fix every case, but the human element is significant,” Dr. Cheng said. “The vets always talk about the humanity of the program – ‘There are people out there who care for us.’ ”

Oral health summit to focus on behavioral science

Oral health isn’t just about teeth. Thoughts and behaviors also play a big part.

Dentists have long known the importance of influencing people’s behaviors and attitudes to promote healthy teeth and gums. That explains a good deal of the impetus for the Behavioral and Social Oral Health Sciences Summit, which will be held this Thursday and Friday in a virtual space.

The summit, which features School of Dentistry faculty members in prominent roles, was originally scheduled as a symposium to take place ahead of the 2020 annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the IADR meeting, though, the summit was reinvented to be hosted virtually.

Interest in the event has been strong. Dr. Cameron Randall of the UW Department of Oral Health Sciences, a summit co-organizer, said Wednesday that registration exceeded 550 attendees, which was far more than initially expected.

“We have planned the summit and follow-up activities and publications to advance the application of behavioral and social sciences in dentistry and oral health research,” he said. “We hope this will cement past contributions and usher in a new wave of contemporary contributions to the field.”

While summit panels will discuss big-picture topics such as conceptual frameworks and methodologies, they will also focus on specifics such as research priorities, intervention strategies, and pain management that de-emphasizes opioid use.

Dr. Randall will be joined at the summit by Dr. Lisa Heaton of the UW Department of Oral Health Sciences. Both are clinical psychologists, and both are session co-chairs and members of the summit’s steering committee.

One session panel also includes Dr. Samuel Dworkin, a School of Dentistry professor emeritus and celebrated researcher who was a pioneer in introducing behavioral sciences into dental education. Dr. Dworkin, who co-authored an early book in the field, advocated for dentists to consider not only the physical aspects of treatment but the patient’s behavioral patterns and emotional state. In 2005, he received the Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, the American Dental Association’s highest research honor, for his work on the diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular disorder and orofacial pain.

At the School of Dentistry, Dr. Randall’s and Dr. Heaton’s work has included treating patients’ dental phobias. In a clinical approach begun at the school in the 1970s, they have used desensitization therapy as a key psychological tool to help patients manage those fears while receiving dental treatment at the same time. Drs. Randall and Heaton also provide clinical services in the School of Dentistry’s oral medicine clinic, helping patients manage orofacial pain. Both maintain active programs of research on a variety of topics in behavioral dentistry.

A full summit program, including individual presentations, can be found here.

School wins $1M grant for teledentistry project

The School of Dentistry has won a $1 million federal grant that will upgrade infrastructure for teledentistry in Washington and Montana and improve the school’s distance-learning capability.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Telecommunications Program to the school’s Office of Regional Affairs and the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program. It will be augmented by another $250,000 in matching funds from the UW’s Health Sciences Facilities and Administration office, which is collaborating on the project.

Distance-learning technology links dental students in Seattle to RIDE students at their Spokane hub on the Eastern Washington University campus.
Distance-learning technology links dental students in Seattle to RIDE students at their Spokane hub on the Eastern Washington University campus.

RIDE, which began in 2007, seeks to improve access to dental care in rural and underserved areas of Washington. Students in the program serve rotations in community clinics – a four-week rotation after their first year and a five-month rotation during their fourth year. The goal is to produce more dentists who will practice in these areas. To date, more than 75 percent of RIDE graduates are doing so, which is far above the national average for dental school graduates.

The program has a Spokane hub on the Eastern Washington University campus, where its students spend their first year before rejoining their Seattle classmates for their second and third years and part of their fourth. In Spokane, the students receive instruction not only from RIDE instructors there, but also in real time from the school’s Seattle faculty via a distance-learning network.

The RUS grant will be disbursed over three years for improvements including:

  • 12 chairside telemedicine carts equipped with two-way secure video conferencing, intraoral camera and computer for dental charting, images, and access to electronic health records. One will be at the UW and 11 will be at partnering rural and tribal community dental clinics in Washington and Montana.
  • Upgrades to the school’s simulation clinics in Seattle and Spokane. In these clinics, students practice on dental mannequins for two years before performing procedures on live patients.
  • Teleconferencing upgrades at the school.
  • New distance learning classrooms at the UW. At least two will be at the new $100 million Health Sciences Education Building, an integrated training facility that will serve all six UW Health Sciences schools. Construction recently began on the building, which is due to be completed by May 2022.

“This is an incredible opportunity to leverage support from the USDA to expand the school’s rural educational, teledentistry, and clinical service goals,” said Dr. Frank Roberts, Assistant Dean for Regional Affairs and director of the RIDE program. “This will especially provide new avenues of collaboration with our Eastern Washington RIDE dental partners.”

The new project will expand the Office of Regional Affairs’ distance learning and teledentistry footprint to 22 rural locations, 13 in Washington State and nine in Montana, including five tribal clinics. In partnership with Montana State University and Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services, UW dental students have been attending five-week clinical rotations in rural and tribal communities over the last five years, helping build a network of precepting clinics for future Montana RIDE expansion.

Montana has shown strong interest in such an expansion, and is already a partner in the UW School of Medicine’s WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) regional medical education program.

RIDE was recognized in 2017 by the American Dental Education Association with its top honor, the William J. Gies Award, in the category of Vision by an Academic Dental Institution.

Shoreline CC is school’s new dental hygiene training partner

Dental hygienist training at the UW School of Dentistry is expanding significantly, thanks to a new partnership between the school and Shoreline Community College.

Shoreline hygiene students
Shoreline dental hygiene students, shown in their school’s clinic, will have a prominent presence at the UW starting this fall. Photo: Courtesy of Shoreline Community College

This year, 10 Shoreline students in the second year of their school’s accredited two-year program are training at the School of Dentistry before receiving their Dental Hygiene Associate of Applied Sciences degree. Next summer, the program will shift entirely to the UW with Shoreline’s continued participation. At least 10 first-year students will be admitted then, but Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry said that the goal is to increase that number eventually to 25 each year.

Shoreline’s popular program needed to relocate to a different physical facility due to a campus construction project. Talks between Shoreline and the School of Dentistry soon revealed strong interest on both sides in a collaboration that would allow the program to be housed at the UW.

“This new partnership strengthens what is already a high-quality learning experience for our dental hygiene students,” said Dr. Cheryl Roberts, Shoreline’s president. “The addition of working closely in a training environment with UW Dentistry students, faculty, and patients will help our students become even better prepared for careers in this fast-growing industry.”

The School of Dentistry will be a familiar setting for Shoreline dental hygiene students, who have served rotations at the school’s clinics, including the Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities clinic. The partnership will also allow Shoreline students to gain valuable pediatric dental training at the UW’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry.

Dental hygiene education has a long history at the UW. It began in 1950 under the direction of the late Dr. Esther Wilkins, who is widely regarded as the godmother of modern dental hygiene. She wrote the landmark textbook, Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist, in 1959. Now in its 13th edition, the book remains in wide use.

At the UW, Dr. Wilkins created a four-year dental hygiene program and a degree completion program. The baccalaureate program was discontinued in 1983, but the school still offers a master’s and doctoral degrees.

Dr. Wilkins was succeeded in 1961 by Dr. Martha Fales, who served until 1986 and left her own distinctive mark through her leadership of the program and advocacy on health issues. After her death in 2018, Dr. Glen Johnson, professor emeritus of restorative dentistry at the UW, said, “This program was a model for hygiene education worldwide, and a very well-functioning program through which hygiene students, patients, and dental students benefited greatly.”

“We are thrilled that this partnership with Shoreline has moved forward,” said Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry. “The ability to have dental hygiene students learn and practice in coordination with dental students will benefit all students and our patients. This model resembles how dental hygienists and dentists work together in practice and will provide a substantial advantage for our students. The integrated programs are a model for dental and dental hygiene education.”

Dr. Douglass Jackson to lead school’s heightened diversity efforts

Dr. Douglass JacksonDr. Douglass Jackson, Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at the UW School of Dentistry, has been named Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), pending approval by the UW Board of Regents.

Dr. Jackson will assist Dean Gary Chiodo in developing an EDI strategic plan for the school that seeks to broaden understanding of what must be done to make it truly inclusive and chart the steps to achieve that goal, the dean said. From 2005 to 2008, Dr. Jackson served as Associate Dean in the school’s Office of Educational Partnerships & Diversity, and he has chaired the school’s Diversity Committee since 2016. From 2008 to 2013, he was director of the Center for Diversity and Health Equity at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and he is currently a diversity and inclusion senior consultant and trainer at The Byers Group in Seattle.

“Dr. Jackson is the perfect person to lead our EDI initiatives,” Dean Chiodo said. “This is an associate dean role that he previously held, and his long history with our school positions him to immediately move us forward. He will be our strategic leader and subject matter expert in these areas and connect with faculty, staff, students, and patients. This is critical work being done at a critical time in our history. Ultimately, we will benefit from an increasingly diverse school with a high value placed on inclusivity and equity.”

Dr. Jackson holds BA and DMD degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, an MS in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in oral biology and neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. He has also served residencies in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. He is a diplomate of the National Dental Board of Anesthesiology, a fellow of the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, and a member of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon dental honor society.

He has also served as director of the UW’s Health Professions Academy, a partnership of the UW Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity.

“What motivates me every day to do this work is the realization that we live in a place where talent is equally distributed and opportunity is not,” Dr. Jackson said. “I’m thrilled to work in this new capacity alongside the many people at the school and university who recognize the societal cost we pay by not addressing this discrepancy, and how failing to address it limits our ability to be the best school we know we can be.”

Ground broken on $100M training facility

School of Dentistry Dean Gary Chiodo joined his fellow UW Health Sciences deans and Washington state legislators on Aug. 27 at the official groundbreaking for the new Health Sciences Education Building on the southern edge of the UW campus.

Dean Chiodo at Groundbreaking in yellow vest and hardhat
Dean Gary Chiodo gets ready to help break ground for the new building.

The new $100 million, 100,000-square-foot facility, standing four stories tall, will house classrooms for training in integrated patient care. The state is funding $70 million of the cost, and the Health Sciences schools are responsible for the remainder. The dental school’s share will be $5 million. The University hopes to raise a substantial part of the $30 million it needs through private gifts, with the inducement of naming opportunities. The building, on Pacific Street just west of the Health Sciences Center, is to be completed by May 2022.

“This new facility will enable our students across the full range of health sciences to work in a setting that better mirrors the way they’ll be engaging in patient care as professionals,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “This will result in better care for the patients they serve, because we’ve seen the benefits that come from coordinating various health disciplines, rather than keeping them siloed.”

“I am proud to have worked with my legislative colleagues to support this project with nearly $70 million in state capital funds,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-46th District), who attended the ceremony. “Ensuring that UW Health Sciences students have access to state-of-the-art interdisciplinary training facilities is critical to our state’s health-care workforce pipeline.”

Key to the facility’s design are flexible spaces that allow for 21st-century teaching techniques, including high-tech learning facilities used for computer simulation, mock treatment labs and an ultra-modern Anatomy Lab Suite with virtual anatomy capabilities. The facility will also enable robust remote learning access for students and professionals in UW Medicine’s WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) regional education program.

In addition, the health sciences deans envision a building with the capacity for students to immediately share ideas, images and projects in classrooms and in their working teams. The finished building will also have a library extension that is integrated into the main classroom floor to help students immediately engage evidence in their learning, gain skills in navigating resources and benefit from coaching about how to use library tools, resources and in their project work.

Fifty years ago, the average person was under the care of three health-care professionals. Now, the average healthy person relies on 16 professionals for their overall health care. Consequently, integrated patient care is increasingly necessary for the future of health sciences. The building will be a hub that fosters interaction, collaboration and cutting-edge learning necessary for recruiting and retaining talented students and faculty — critical to maintaining the UW’s top-ranked programs.

“The Health Sciences Education Building is a state-of-the-art facility that will prepare the next generation of professionals for a more collaborative, more collegial role as part of interprofessional teams to address today’s health care needs. From pandemics to health equity, the nation’s first integrated health sciences training facility will provide students with a high-tech learning space to develop solutions to global issues affecting population health,” said School of Nursing Executive Dean Azita Emami, who is also chair of the Board of Health Sciences Deans.

Is it safe to visit the dentist?

You may be wondering whether it is safe to visit your UW dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is definitely safe! At the UW School of Dentistry, no one has caught COVID-19 during dental care – even though thousands of patient visits have taken place in our clinics since COVID arrived.

Dentists have been treating patients during the pandemic for over six months in the USA. Some patients were already infected with COVID-19 when they came to the dentist. Neither they nor the dentist knew it at the time. Still, COVID19 has not spread at any routine dental visit. Dentists practice great infection control. No clusters of any airborne diseases like COVID-19 have spread in dental offices in the world to date. This is backed up by a new study in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals.

The UW School of Dentistry has gone even further. We have included extra steps to keep everyone safe.

  • If anyone – patients, staff, students, or faculty – has COVID19 symptoms, we don’t allow them to come into the school.
  • We do not allow any unnecessary visitors to our facilities.
  • We are having fewer patients come in each day, so people can stay farther apart in clinics and waiting rooms.
  • Our dental team wears extra protective equipment. This includes face shields, high-filtration face masks, hair covers, and disposable gowns.
  • We are installing higher plexiglass partitions between clinic cubicles.
  • Do you need a procedure that will cause significant splatter (the medical term is “aerosol”)? You will have a COVID-19 test first to make sure you are not infectious. You will not pay anything extra out of pocket for this test.
  • Our experts meet every week to discuss the latest science about COVID-19. If there is anything new we should do in our clinics, we do it.

You can definitely come into our UW dental school for your care with confidence. We are staying at the forefront of safety precautions.

People can catch the virus that causes COVID-19 when they breathe it in, or it contacts their eyes. This usually happens if they are close to an infected person and do not wear a face mask or eye protection.

Aerosols are fine sprays of water. Infected aerosols are aerosols that contain the virus. Coming in contact with infected aerosols can also cause COVID-19 infection.

Some dental procedures can generate aerosols. However, air and water from dental equipment dilute any virus in these aerosols. This makes infection less likely. If we perform one of these procedures, we test the patient for COVID-19 first to make sure they do not carry the virus. Dentists also use high-volume suction and rubber dams to reduce aerosols even more.

Dental aerosols are different from aerosols that some medical procedures create. Those procedures (such as anesthesia and intubation) do not use water. If there is any virus in the aerosol, it is not diluted. The infected aerosol contains more virus, so there is a higher risk of infection.

Dr. Russell Deal named Wands Fellow

The School of Dentistry has announced that Dr. Russell Deal has been named the 2020-21 David H. Wands Fellow in Graduate Prosthodontics. Dr. Deal, who received his DDS from the school in 2019, is now a first-year resident in the school’s Graduate Prosthodontics program.

Russell Deal
Russell Deal

He becomes the school’s 13th Wands Fellow and the first UW DDS alumnus to receive the fellowship since Dr. Josh Manchester, who earned his DDS in 2013 and was the 2015-16 Wands Fellow.

Dr. Deal entered the School of Dentistry after receiving his undergraduate degree in chemistry in 2015 at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash. Before college, he worked for six summers as a day program volunteer with the Association for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities of Tri-Cities, supervising children and adults with developmental disabilities. He also volunteered with the Special Olympics from 2007 to 2011.

His childhood included an adventurous year and a half when the family moved to Ukraine in 1999. His father worked for a U.S. national laboratory assisting with the cleanup effort at Chernobyl after the nuclear reactor accident there. He and his brothers attended school in Slavutych, a city built expressly for the evacuated personnel of the Chernobyl power plant.

As a dental student, he volunteered for the Health and Homelessness student outreach, providing dental exams, fillings, and extractions in Mount Vernon, Wash. He was also a peer mentor in an Operative Dentistry course.

An accident at age 12 that fractured both central incisors may have been the impetus for a dental career. “I spent quite a bit of time at my family dentist and was incredibly pleased that my family dentist could fix my smile,” he said. “This artistic side to dentistry really sparked the beginning of my interest.”

David Wands
David Wands

Dr. Wands, who taught at the school in what was formerly the Department of Prosthodontics for 22 years, established the fellowship at the University of Maryland, where he received his DDS with honors in 1967 from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He re-launched the fellowship at the UW in 1998.

Dr. Wands practiced for seven years with the U.S. Public Health Service and later completed a graduate prosthodontics residency at the UW before joining the dental faculty. He taught both undergraduate and graduate prosthodontics, achieving the rank of Clinical Professor. Now retired from private practice, he is a life member of the Academy of Prosthodontics and Pacific Coast Society for Prosthodontics.

Ultra-small, parasitic bacteria found in groundwater, moose – and you

Inside your mouth lives a group of bacteria whose closest relatives can also be found in the belly of a moose, in dogs, cats, and dolphins, and in groundwater deep under the Earth’s surface. In a noteworthy discovery, scientists led by a UW School of Dentistry researcher have found that these organisms have adapted to these incredibly diverse environments without radically changing their genetic makeup, or genomes.

Saccharibacteria are found in humans, a range of other mammals, and in groundwater. The nano-sized parasitic bacteria (stained red) can be seen in the upper right.
Saccharibacteria are found in humans, a range of other mammals, and in groundwater. The nano-sized parasitic bacteria (stained red) can be seen in the upper right.

The organisms are members of the TM7 family, also known as Saccharibacteria. These are ultra-small parasitic bacteria with small genomes that belong to a larger group called the Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR). These CPR bacteria are referred to as “microbial dark matter” that represent more than 25 percent of all bacterial diversity, yet we know very little about them since the vast majority have defied attempts to culture them in the lab.

In research first published as a pre-print in 2018, and now formally in the journal Cell Reports, scientists describe their findings that Saccharibacteria within a mammalian host are more diverse than ever anticipated. The researchers also discovered that certain members of the bacteria are found in the oral cavity of humans, the guts of other mammals, and in groundwater. While these environments are all very different, the bacteria’s tiny genomes remain minimally changed between humans and groundwater. This indicates that humans acquired the bacteria more recently, on an evolutionary timescale.

“It’s the only bacteria we know that has hardly changed when they adapted to humans,” said Dr. Jeffrey McLean, a microbiologist and associate professor of periodontics at the School of Dentistry, and lead author of the paper.

The TM7 bacteria were a complete mystery to scientists until Dr. Xuesong He first isolated the bacterium TM7x, a member of CPR, in 2014. Dr. He is co-author of the paper and associate staff member at the Forsyth Institute of Cambridge, Mass., a leading center of dental and craniofacial research. Since then, researchers have learned that CPR includes a huge number of different bacteria, all with tiny genomes. These bacteria need a host to survive and are unique in that they can’t make their own amino acids and nucleotides, which are essential building blocks for life.

“I see this as a huge discovery,” said Wenyuan Shi, CEO and chief scientific officer at the Forsyth Institute and also co-author of the paper. “This creature survives in both humans and groundwater, which indicates there are similarities that allow these bacteria to adapt to humans.”

Previous research by another co-author, Dr. Batbileg Bor of the Forsyth Institute, showed that TM7 can easily jump from one bacterial host to another. This could explain how they ended up in mammals, since mammals drink groundwater.

“The most likely reason we see a large diversity of these bacteria in humans, yet one group of bacteria remains nearly identical to those in groundwater, is that some groups were acquired in ancient mammal relatives and they expanded over time across mammals, whereas this one highly similar group more recently jumped directly into humans,” Dr. McLean said.

TM7 and other ultra-small, parasitic bacteria within CPR may play important roles in health and disease that we have yet to discover. Since they act as parasites – living with and killing other bacteria – TM7 could change the overall microbiome by modulating the abundance of bacteria, Dr. McLean said. Scientists are just scratching the surface of understanding how much our microbiome, which is the human body’s full microbial population, impacts our overall health. TM7, for one, thrives under the conditions found in oral diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

Another major contribution of this research has been developing a systematic way to name these newly discovered bacteria, setting the foundation for classifying other isolated strains.

The discovery that humans acquired TM7 recently has broader implications for understanding our co-evolutionary pathways with the microbes that live on and within us.

“There are only a couple hundred genes that are different in these ultra-small bacteria between what lives deep in the subsurface environment and those that have become common bacteria in our mouths,” Dr. McLean said. “That is a remarkable feat for bacteria missing so many genes and has to make a living by feeding off other bacteria.”

Dental school creates “virtual commencement” video

Live commencement ceremonies were among the many disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic created this spring, and the UW School of Dentistry was no exception. The outbreak forced the cancellation of the school’s traditional Hooding ceremony, in which students receive their doctoral hoods before an audience of family members, spouses, and friends.

The UW did create a virtual commencement video that included all of its schools. Of necessity, however, each school could receive only a relatively brief exposure as rows of student photo tiles streamed across the screen.

“We felt that our Class of 2020 deserved a fitting commencement celebration, especially considering the incredible challenges that they faced,” said Randy Newquist, Assistant Dean for Advancement and  External Affairs, who also oversees the school’s Dental Alumni Association. The state’s suspension of all but urgent care in March eliminated most of the patient care the students usually deliver, he noted, and students were forced to remain at home for several weeks. The regular state licensing exam also had to be canceled, and the licensing issue was not resolved with the state until June.

“We decided to create a video that would have many of the elements of our live Hooding ceremony,” Newquist said. These include a welcoming message from the dean, a keynote speech from a faculty member selected by the graduating class, and a message from the class president. The video also includes the individual messages of appreciation written by the students and normally displayed on screen on the Meany Hall stage as each student receives their hood.


“Our students work so hard for four years to get to this point, and it was such a disappointment for them not to have a live Hooding ceremony,” he said. “We hope that this video will be a keepsake for them that makes their final memory of dental school a happy one.”

School ranks 4th in world in research-oriented survey

The University of Washington School of Dentistry is ranked No. 3 in the United States and No. 4 in the world by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy in its newly released 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities subject rankings.

In the field of dental and oral sciences, the University of Washington trails only the dental schools at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and King’s College London. Harvard University rounds out the top five.

“I am so happy to see our school ranked as No. 3 in the nation and No. 4 in the world,” said Dean Gary Chiodo. “These are outstanding rankings and reflect the hard work and expertise of our faculty, staff, and students. Certainly, these outcomes are due in no small part to our outstanding researchers who continue to make us one of the very best dental research institutes in the world. I am so proud to be part of this fantastic dental school.”

The ARWU assessment focuses heavily on research performance and reputation, as gauged by peer-reviewed journal citations and other measures. The annual rankings were originated by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003.

Student Wei He displays a poster presentation during the School of Dentistry’s annual Research Day on Jan. 28.
Student Wei He displays a poster presentation during the School of Dentistry’s annual Research Day on Jan. 28.

Research at the School of Dentistry is carried out primarily by faculty members and full-time researchers. However, students are also strongly encouraged to pursue research under faculty mentorship through programs such as the Summer Research Fellowship Program and the Multidisciplinary Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program. The school also offers a DDS/PhD track for students that allows them to pursue advanced research after earning their dental degree.

For nearly three decades, the school has also conducted the Summer Institute in Dental and Craniofacial Clinical Research Methods, one of the leading training programs of its kind. The six-week institute, which draws attendees from around the world, provides training in biostatistics, clinical epidemiology/study design, personal computing applications, clinical trials, behavioral research in dentistry, grantsmanship, and case studies in data analysis.

The institute has been canceled for this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopes to resume activities in 2021.

The school also has the Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health, which since 2013 has promoted international collaborations in dental research and education.

Dental student’s community work helps earn scholarship

Third-year University of Washington dental student Bahara Naimzadeh has been awarded a Dental Trade Alliance Foundation Scholarship for 2020, the foundation has announced.

Bahara NaimzadehNaimzadeh is a student in the School of Dentistry’s Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program, which is designed to funnel more dentists into rural and/or underserved areas of Washington. Since its launch in 2007, RIDE has seen about three-fourths of its graduates go on to practice in these areas, a rate far above the national average for dental schools.

Naimzadeh’s family immigrated to Western Washington from Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation of that country during the 1980s. During a visit to Afghanistan in 2008, she says, she saw the impact made by the lack of education and access to care. “I knew I wanted to be part of the solution,” she said. She sees RIDE as a “steppingstone into a career of community service,” she said.

At the UW, she has worked closely with the Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) and its volunteer outreach at Seattle’s Casa Latina, which facilitates education, employment, and community organizing for the area’s Latino immigrants. As one of HSDA’s outreach coordinators, she helps organize quarterly events in which UW dental and medical students deliver urgently needed health screenings and treatment.

“Giving back to those in need is what inspired me to get into this career in dentistry,” she said. “I hope that someday I can take everything I’ve learned through my outreach and through a career in dentistry back to Afghanistan and help those people that really inspired me to be the person that I am today.”

“Bahara is so deserving of this scholarship, and I cannot think of a more fitting reward for her hard work and accomplishments,” said School of Dentistry Dean Gary Chiodo. “The RIDE program is one of our school’s crown jewels, and it is students like Bahara who help us to maintain its excellent reputation and history. Her path in coming to our dental school and the RIDE program was challenging, and her commitment to giving back to communities that are in need is impressive.”

The Dental Trade Alliance Foundation scholarships go to students at accredited dental schools who have demonstrated financial need, have a commitment to community service, and are in good academic standing. With awards ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, the program has grown since its inception in 2012, when two $5,000 awards were made. This year, the foundation will award up to 38 scholarships. A gift from the Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation initiated the program, and further support has come from the Sullivan foundation, Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund, Crown Seating, and an anonymous donor.

Dr. Frank Roberts named Associate Dean for Regional Affairs

Dr. Frank Roberts, who has directed the School of Dentistry’s Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program since 2014, has been named Associate Dean for Regional Affairs, Dean Gary Chiodo has announced. The appointment was approved by the UW Board of Regents at their meeting in May.

Dr. Frank RobertsIn his new post, Dr. Roberts oversees the school’s educational outreach to the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho), which is also served by the School of Medicine. He will also help lead the dental school’s efforts to expand access for developmentally and other disabled patients in rural Washington, in which RIDE’s community clinical sites will play a major role.

Following Dean Chiodo’s vision for expanding the scope of Regional Affairs, Dr. Roberts will also work closely with two key School of Dentistry entities: the Office of Educational Partnerships and Diversity (OEPD) and the Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health.

OEPD, directed by Dr. Bea Gandara, pursues a community-oriented mission to support teaching and learning initiatives that promote culturally appropriate improvements in oral health care access and reductions in oral health disparities. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with OEPD as they create new regional community partnerships and to support the admissions pipeline for underrepresented students,” Dr. Roberts said.

The DeRouen Center, directed by Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario, is the school’s primary vehicle to facilitate international collaborations in oral health research and education. “The DeRouen Center already does superb work, and I see great potential for us to take advantage of our strengths in securing educational grants to create research and training capacities in low- and middle-income countries. This opportunity will enrich the dental education of our students as they will have a more interprofessional knowledge of global oral health issues,” he said. “The DeRouen Center will also continue to help us expand our reach to the refugee community in Washington.”

Dr. Roberts, who is also interim chair of the school’s Department of Periodontics, has been a key member of the RIDE faculty since the program’s inception in 2007. RIDE was designed to channel more dentists into practice in rural and/or underserved areas of Washington, mostly east of the Cascades. To date, nearly 80 percent of its graduates have gone into practice in these areas, a rate well above the national average for U.S. dental schools.

Eight students enter the RIDE program each year. They spend their first year, including a four-week community clinical rotation, at the RIDE hub on the Eastern Washington University campus in Spokane Their second and third years are spent with their full class in Seattle. In their fourth year, they spend winter and spring quarters in an Eastern Washington community rotation, which is a key feature of the program. The rotations, at clinics that serve a high proportion of children and low-income adults, give the students an extended exposure to community dentistry and experience in local leadership. The students perform a full range of dental procedures under the supervision of faculty preceptors.

In 2017, the American Dental Education Association bestowed the William J. Gies Award for Vision by an Academic Dental Institution, its highest honor, on RIDE. The program has also drawn interest from Montana about an expansion into that state.

“Dr. Roberts, with his wealth of experience and proven leadership, is the ideal candidate to fill this post,” said Dean Chiodo. “He has consistently shown the abilities needed to lead RIDE’s continued development, and he will help spur critical thinking around regional affairs, program and relationship building, and innovation as a member of our executive leadership team. We are fortunate to have such a highly qualified faculty member in this critical role.”

Dr. Roberts joined the UW Department of Periodontics as assistant professor in 1996. Previously, he worked as a researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) dental school and in the university’s Department of Microbiology.

He graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina and holds a DDS with honors from the University of Tennessee and a PhD in molecular cell biology from UAB, along with a certificate in periodontics.

Dr. Roberts has been Chief of Periodontics at the Seattle Veterans Administration Medical Center since 1997 and has also represented the School of Dentistry on the UW Medicine curriculum committee in all aspects of overlapping course work. An active researcher, he has pursued studies including the molecular mechanisms of chronic inflammatory disease progression, the bacterial development of periodontitis, and biology and imaging of dental implants.

He has played a key role in the UW School of Dentistry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering free webinars on clinical protocols for the state’s practicing dentists. The webinars have also been circulated nationally.

A diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology, he has received the American Academy of Periodontology Tarrson Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Bruce R. Rothwell Distinguished Teaching Award, the School of Dentistry’s highest teaching honor.

UW receives $2.25 million federal grant to improve dental care for children with special health care needs

The University of Washington’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry has been awarded a $2.25 million federal grant for an ambitious training program to significantly broaden access to dental care for Washington children with special health care needs.

Dr. Travis Nelson treats a young patient in his autism clinic in 2013.
Dr. Travis Nelson treats a young patient in his autism clinic in 2013.

Dr. Travis Nelson, acting chair of the School of Dentistry department, will lead the five-year Health Resources and Services Administration grant, which will fund the creation of an Interdisciplinary Special Needs Access Network (I-SPAN). Key elements of the program include:

  • Enhanced training for pediatric dental residents in caring for children with special health-care needs and other underserved populations.
  • Development of a postgraduate interdisciplinary training center drawing on the expertise of dental and medical providers at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the UW’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) clinic. Other partners include the School of Dentistry’s DECOD special-needs dental clinic and training program, residents in the state’s Advanced Education General Dentistry program, and other UW dental specialty programs.
  • Use of telehealth technology to allow remote dental screenings and wider access to specialized care for children in rural and underserved areas.

Faculty and residents involved in I-SPAN will also provide training in the care of the targeted children to dentists in the state’s Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) network. ABCD was launched in the mid-1990s to improve low-income children’s access to dental care. In the past 20 years the program has produced dramatic oral health improvements for Washington children.

“The prevalence of children with developmental and/or intellectual disability, ADHD, and autism has increased significantly over the last decade,” Dr. Nelson wrote in his grant proposal. “Today, roughly one in six children has special health care needs. Dental care for children in poverty, especially in rural areas, is routinely reported as the greatest unmet health care need in this population, with an estimated 10 to 20 percent of children with special needs unable to obtain this care.”

Dr. Nelson indicated that the problem is aggravated by the lower numbers of dentists, especially specialists, in rural areas, and the fact that rural residents are less likely to have dental insurance. He noted that children with special health-care needs are also more likely to have problems such as teeth-grinding, overgrown gum tissue, developmental tooth defects, and jaw disorders.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have received this funding,” he said. “It will support training to better equip dental providers to care for these incredibly deserving patients. We will see immediate local effects in enhanced training for UW residents. As the network develops, access to care will improve throughout our state as existing providers receive training, through teledentistry, and when residents graduate and take the skills into practice.”

Planning and organization is expected to take up the first year of the grant, with implementation to follow in years two through five.

The Department of Pediatric Dentistry, through its Center for Pediatric Dentistry clinic in Seattle’s Sand Point neighborhood, has already won recognition for its extensive care for children with special needs. This includes a clinic for children with autism, which Dr. Nelson established in 2012 and has since had exceptional success in providing dental care to these children.

School of Dentistry to expand use of remote patient visits

The University of Washington School of Dentistry has announced the full launch of its Virtual Clinic to serve patients remotely.

The clinic, which was created to support the school’s Dental Urgent Care Clinic during the COVID-19 outbreak, will see its use expanded in stages across all of the school’s clinical services.

Jacqueline Wong at the computer
Dr. Jacqueline Wong of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Medicine screens a patient remotely.

“Initially, we considered teledentistry as a safer way to conduct patient screenings for urgent care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dean Gary Chiodo. “However, it is clear to us that this technology can play an important role in making delivery of all clinical care safer, more efficient, and more effective.”

The Virtual Clinic connects patients with dental providers by video or, if the patient lacks video access, by telephone. The video link is secure and complies with patient privacy laws, and visits are not recorded or stored.

To assist the dentist, the clinic recommends that patients have a few readily available items with them for the virtual visit: a flashlight, a large spoon, and a disposable mouth mirror, which can be obtained at a drugstore. Patients must also complete several forms, including a health history and a consent for teledentistry, which can be done online.

The clinic was set up by Dr. Jacqueline Wong of the school’s Department of Oral Medicine faculty, who will direct the clinic’s operations, and Dr. Mihwa Kim, the school’s director of clinical operations.

“Reducing the need for in-person contact during the initial screening does add another layer of safety,” Dean Chiodo said. “At the same time, we can usually assess the patient’s condition with enough detail to let us work out a preliminary treatment plan. In some cases, a patient can be medically managed after the assessment, and there may be no need for an in-person clinic visit.”

The school has not set a date for full implementation of the Virtual Clinic for patient care in all departments, but will begin with Pediatrics, Oral Surgery, and the dental student clinic in addition to its current support in the Dental Urgent Care Clinic and Oral Medicine clinic. On May 18, the school began restoring regular clinical services, a process which will take several weeks. In March, following state rules and American Dental Association recommendations, the school suspended all but urgent care.

“We expect the Virtual Clinic to closely mirror our timeline as we ramp back up to our complete range of clinical care,” Dean Chiodo said. “This is a very exciting and forward-thinking initiative for dentistry, and I cannot think of anyone more qualified to lead it than Drs. Kim and Wong.”

Dental student receives Latino Center for Health fellowship

Mariany Morales, a third-year student at the UW School of Dentistry, has been selected to receive a UW Latino Center for Health Student Fellowship, the center has announced. She is one of 10 University of Washington Health Sciences students to receive the award in the fellowship program’s first year.

Mariany MoralesThe fellowships support the center’s mission of part of advancing the field of Latino health by building capacity to address current and emerging health issues facing diverse Latinx communities in Washington state.

“The overall aim of this program is to support the next generation of leaders and scholars who promote the health and well-being of Latinx communities in our state,” said Dr. Gino Aisenberg, associate professor in the UW School of Social Work and co-director of the center, in announcing the fellowship awards.

Morales is part of the dental school’s Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program. The program, which originated in 2007, seeks to improve access to care in remote and/or underserved areas of Washington, mostly east of the Cascades. Students spend their first year at the RIDE facility on the Eastern Washington University campus in Spokane, where they take classes remotely with their fellow students back in Seattle. The students also serve community clinical rotations after their first year, with a four-month rotation in their fourth and final year.

The extensive exposure to community dentistry is designed to funnel students into practice in those areas, which often have substantial Latinx populations. So far, about 75 percent of RIDE graduates have gone on to practice in Eastern Washington. Morales said that she plans to enter a one-year residency after obtaining her DDS and then become a community dentist in rural Washington.

Morales, who grew up in a migrant family in Yakima, Wash., received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Washington State University, where she was on the Dean’s List and won the WSU President’s Award. At the School of Dentistry, she has received the Psi Omega Scholarship, the Sea Mar Community Health Scholarship, and the Warner Lambert Scholarship.

“I chose dentistry because I wanted to be in a career where I could serve communities that are currently underrepresented,” she said. While growing up, she said, “I saw that many migrant laborers neglected their health, whether that was because of the busy lifestyle, financial hardships, cultural barriers or the mistrust in the health care system. Seeing this made me want to bridge the gap between health and the migrant community. I chose dentistry specifically because oral health is one of the areas that is most neglected.”

Morales is an officer of the UW chapter of the Hispanic Student Dental Association and serves as their lead instructor for Spanish dental terminology, helping other students improve their patient communications. She has been involved as a volunteer in dental outreaches at Seattle’s Casa Latina and in Hispanic migrant camps, as well as through Husky Smiles and Special Olympics. She also serves as a mentor to pre-health students through the Pre-Health Dreamers Program and the American Student Dental Association’s GUIDE Mentorship Program.

As an undergraduate, Morales also collaborated on entomological and other studies, with a number of them submitted or in preparation for publication. One, a study of spider mite chemical adaptation in hops fields, was published in the journal Scientific Reports in 2015.

“Mariany Morales is an outstanding and deserving candidate for this fellowship award,” said Dr. Gary Chiodo, dean of the School of Dentistry. “Her work with community organizations, including Casa Latina and outreach to Hispanic migrant camps, demonstrates her commitment to support these groups. The fact that she selected the RIDE program when she became a dental student clearly confirms her goal of serving rural and underserved communities, including those that are largely Hispanic.”

Morales said, “This fellowship not only provides me with the financial resources needed to obtain a DDS, but it refuels my dreams and aspirations to make a difference in my community. Having the support of a community such as the Latino Center for Health reminds me that I am not alone, that we are in this as a community, and that together we will advocate for our people to make sure they are heard and that their needs are met.”

Dental student Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt named to Husky 100

Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt, a third-year student at the School of Dentistry, has been named to the 2020 cohort of the University of Washington’s Husky 100, the UW announced on Monday.

Lindsey Montileaux MabbuttThe Husky 100 annually recognizes 100 undergraduate and graduate students who are making the most of their time at the UW. Students are evaluated on the basis of what they learn to make a difference on campus and in their communities, as well as their capacity for leadership and commitment to an inclusive community.

Mabbutt, who grew up in South Dakota, is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and the first in her family to complete college. In 2015, she received a BS in medical biology, cum laude, from the University of South Dakota, where she had a track and field scholarship. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from North Dakota State University, with a specialization in American Indian public health, in 2017 before enrolling at the School of Dentistry.

“I love science and working with my hands,” she wrote in her Husky 100 application. “When I started working on a fake tooth, I realized how much art was involved in dentistry and I knew I had found my calling.”

Mabbutt, who had never met a Native American dentist while growing up, said her goal became to change that narrative. She plans to become a public health dentist. “Public health has always been a passion of mine because I know the power in reaching populations in comparison to treating one individual,” she wrote.

Her second year in dental school, already considered the most intensive and stressful, was especially eventful. She and her husband welcomed the birth of a son who arrived more than two months prematurely and required a stay in the UW Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit. Yet she returned to her studies just four days after giving birth.

“I spent increments of three hours at school and made it back to breastfeed him in between classes,” she wrote. “He was my motivation to not fall behind. I spent countless hours studying oral pathology at the foot of my son’s hospital bed.”

The summer after her second year, she served as a dental assistant in a rural rotation at a Seattle Indian Health Board clinic – the first UW dental student to serve at this site. “What I learned was that providing culturally competent care to those in need was just the first step in fighting for change,” she wrote. “Seattle Indian Health board emphasized traditional medicine at the heart of their practice in medicine, dentistry, and mental health. With this paradigm, patients were impacted on a more meaningful level than being treated by Western medicine alone. This experience gave me much more than a lecture ever could.”

She is also conducting research using her personal experience as a focal point. Before and after giving birth, she was concerned about exposure to hazardous materials during her studies. In the school’s Simulation Clinic, for example, 70 students simultaneously place mercury amalgam fillings. Now she is measuring mercury vapor in the Simulation Clinic and other clinical settings during amalgam use.

“This is one small step in making it possible for women to reach higher education while also having a family,” she wrote. She also worked with the UW’s Office of Occupational Health and Safety to be fitted for a mask to keep her from inhaling formaldehyde fumes in an anatomy lab.

As she looks to the future, she hopes to help increase the number of Native American dentists. Working with the dental school’s Office of Educational Partnerships and Diversity, she has received  a grant to fund outreach trips to Seattle-area high school tribal communities and inspire young people to pursue careers in health care.

“I knew at UW I would get a great education, but I didn’t realize I would have the opportunity to pursue a career that opens doors for others and creates opportunity for change,” she wrote. “I am proud to be at the University of Washington and look forward to representing the values of the school for a lifetime.”

Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry said: “I am absolutely delighted that Lindsey has received this very well-deserved recognition. Her accomplishments as a pre-dental student and now as a dental student are impressive.

“As a public health dentist, I am especially glad to see her interest in this field. She will be an influential role model for other Native Americans who may be contemplating a career in dentistry. She brings the perfect combination of expertise, determination, and motivation to the profession and to a population that is often overlooked by those recruiting dental students. I could not be more proud of her successes nor happier that she will be joining my profession as a public health dentist.”