UW School of Dentistry

Dr. Joel Berg named new Dean

Dr. Berg

After a national search, Dr. Joel Berg has been selected as the next Dean of the School of Dentistry, University of Washington Provost Ana Mari Cauce has announced. Dr. Berg, who had been Lloyd and Kay Chapman Chair for Oral Health at the School, heading the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, will assume his new post on Aug. 15, subject to approval by the UW Board of Regents.

He will succeed Dr. Tim DeRouen, who was appointed Interim Dean for the 2011-2012 academic year after the resignation of Dr. Martha Somerman. She had left the deanship after nine years to become director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Dr. Berg, nationally prominent as president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), furthered his reputation as director of the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, a partnership between the UW and Seattle Children’s hospital. The new facility at Seattle’s Magnuson Park, which he planned and brought to fruition with its opening in September 2010, has a mission of pediatric clinical care, dental and parent education, and research. Its major focus lies in early intervention, with an emphasis on dental visits by age 1. “Joel Berg is one of the nation’s leaders in dental education and research, and we are fortunate to have him here already at the University of Washington to assume this important leadership position in our School of Dentistry,” said Dr. Cauce.

“I am deeply honored to be named dean at a school and a university renowned for their leadership in health education and research,” Dr. Berg said. “Our School of Dentistry has truly outstanding faculty, staff and students, and I expect us to continue to make a profound impact on oral health care, education and research.” Since joining the UW in 2003, Dr. Berg has taken on multiple responsibilities. In addition to his duties as department chair, he also serves as Dental Director for Seattle Children’s and Associate Dean for Hospital Affairs at the School of Dentistry, and as a national spokesman for AAPD. Most recently, he chaired a task force that evaluated the School’s system of patient intake and recommended improvements.

Leading Dentistry faculty members, several of whom served on the search committee, applauded Dr. Berg’s selection. “He is creative, energetic, positive and has remarkable vision … I have immense respect for him professionally and personally, and I believe we are indeed fortunate that he is willing to lead our school, among the best in the world, forward,” said Dr. John Wataha, Chair of Restorative Dentistry.

The president of the Washington State Dental Association also hailed the news. “We were very impressed with Dr. Berg’s vision and how he plans to take the school to the next level and beyond,” said Dr. Rod Wentworth. “We look forward to partnering with Dr. Berg, the School of Dentistry and its alumni to develop a school with facilities, education and research that will be the envy of the rest of the nation.”

Alumni responded with enthusiasm as well: “We are excited about the selection of Dr. Joel Berg as the next Dean,” said Dr. Bryan Edgar and Dr. Linda Edgar, UW Distinguished Benefactors and two of the School’s leading supporters. “His experience in all areas of dentistry, clinical practice, corporate partnerships and research – combined with his positive spirit and desire to do what is best for our UW dental students and patients in Washington – will create the future success for the school our alumni care so much about.”

Dr. Berg received a DDS degree in 1983, a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 1985 and an MS degree in oral biology in 1985, all 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.

Dr. Berg 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 caries detection, which has long been one of his major 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. Earlier that year, he co-moderated a national symposium in Seattle, titled “Physician and Dentist: Together Managing Early Childhood Oral Health,” which explored avenues for more collaboration on early detection and preventive treatment and new approaches in education and technology. “This is our most prevalent childhood disease,” said Dr. Berg at the time. “And its most frustrating aspect is that the disease is almost entirely preventable.”