UW School of Dentistry

Dr. Joel Berg becomes Dean

Joel Berg
Pledging to “establish a distinct culture” at the School of Dentistry, Dr. Joel Berg became its 13th Dean on Aug. 15.

In a message to faculty, staff and students, Dr. Berg listed three elements in this culture:

  • “Our most important function is to produce outstanding dentists. Everything follows from that.
  • “We all work together – across departments and programs and clinics – in an organized and efficient way.
  • “We embrace necessary change and a spirit of discovery – not just in research or the clinic or the classroom, but in everything we do, including administration.”

Dr. Berg succeeds Dr. Tim DeRouen, the former Executive Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs, who served as Interim Dean for the 2011-12 academic year. Dr. DeRouen took the post after the resignation in 2011 of Dr. Martha Somerman, who had been Dean since 2002. She left the UW to become director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Dr. Berg was selected over two other finalists after a national search by the UW. He had been chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the school, professor of pediatric dentistry and also Lloyd and Kay Chapman Chair for Oral Health.

One of Dr. Berg’s signature achievements as chair of pediatric dentistry was the creation of The Center for Pediatric Dentistry, a collaborative venture by the UW and Seattle Children’s hospital that opened in September 2010 at Seattle’s Magnuson State Park.

The $21 million project was effectively launched with a $5 million gift from the Washington Dental Service and Washington Dental Service Foundation in 2007, with the UW providing the bulk of construction funding and Seattle Children’s furnishing other support. Since its opening, The Center has attracted interest and visitors from around the world, and it was featured in a New York Times Page One story about children’s oral health on March 6.

Dr. Berg has also been dental director for Seattle Children’s and Associate Dean for Hospital Affairs at the School of Dentistry, and is currently president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. He was also recently chosen to be a national spokesman for a public service advertising campaign to promote dental health. Dr. Berg holds a D.D.S. degree, a certificate in pediatric dentistry and an M.S. degree in oral biology from the University of Iowa. Before joining the UW, he also served on dental faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas.

He also has private-sector experience as executive vice president for research and clinical affairs for ESPE America, Inc. and vice president for clinical affairs for Philips Oral Healthcare.

He has authored or co-authored more than 100 abstracts, articles and chapters, and is co-editor of a textbook on early childhood oral health. His current research includes innovative new technologies for early detection of caries, one of his principal research and academic interests.

He is a fellow of the American College of Dentists and International College of Dentists, as well as a board director of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. In 2011, he was named the Washington Dental Service Foundation Distinguished Professor for Dentistry.