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Research on an International Stage

April 1, 2017

Dean John D.B. Featherstone's April column:

Dean John FeatherstoneWith the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) having just held its general session here in San Francisco last month, research is very much front of mind.

Excellence in research is, along with patient care and education, one of the cornerstones of our mission. We had more than 70 presentations at the general session; I doubt any other school has had as many. IADR (and its American and Canadian counterparts) — meeting here for the first time in many years — showcased the breadth and depth of our research.

Many of our graduate students and faculty members had the opportunity to present their work in oral and poster presentations. Faculty took part in symposia during the session; Drs. Benjamin Chaffee and Stuart Gansky also led satellite symposia (global oral health and epidemiology) immediately before IADR, which were open to session attendees.

As much as UCSF is known for biomedical research, it’s important to note that we — the School of Dentistry — are likewise involved in dental and craniofacial research as well.

I’m proud to note that some of our researchers were recognized by IADR for their work in those fields: Daniel Fried, who received the William H. Bowen Research in Dental Caries Award; Ophir Klein, winner of the 2017 IADR Craniofacial Biology Research Award; and Grayson Marshall, with co-investigators Stefan Habelitz, Sally Marshall and Kuniko Saeki, recipients of an IADR Innovation in Oral Care Award. (Our story on the IADR general session has more details on our accomplishments.)

It was interesting — and gratifying — to be at the IADR opening ceremony, sitting next to a dean from another school, who commented: “Oh, and another one of yours! You certainly have an influence worldwide.”

Another one of “ours” (meaning UCSF’s) was Joe DeRisi, the esteemed professor and scientist who was one of three plenary speakers at IADR. This was a great honor for UCSF. The association also grants honorary membership each year to a scholar outside of dentistry whose research has been important and relevant to our field. This year, UCSF’s Robert Lustig — known widely for his sugar research — was the recipient. We take pride in their acknowledgement; they both are tremendously influential researchers.

The excellence of the research done here speaks to why UCSF is a perennial leader in federal research funding. The School of Dentistry leads all others — now for the 25th year — in grants from the National Institutes of Health.  The UCSF Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy were also all number one in their areas in NIH funding giving UCSF a clean sweep for the fourth straight year.

Our influence is felt in other venues too. The American Dental Education Association held its annual session in Long Beach just days before IADR; a number of our faculty presented there as well, and three of our students received scholarships.

Excellence in research indeed is linked to excellence in patient care and education. Much of the research we perform here influences the world of dentistry in terms of practical, clinical applications — in the classroom and in the clinic. It’s a mission we are proud to carry forth.