Annual dental symposium features posters, talks, new mentor award

More than 40 research posters and talks were presented by students of the D.D.S., M.S. and Ph.D. programs and by postdoctoral fellows at the 36th Dental Science Symposium March 14 at UT Health San Antonio.

Many participants presented their research at the annual American Association for Dental Research and American Dental Education Association meetings in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida. Award winners were selected by judges from all departments of the School of Dentistry and basic sciences.

The symposium celebrates accomplishments in all areas of research, including education, public health, clinical sciences and basic sciences.

In opening remarks, UT Health San Antonio President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, and School of Dentistry Dean William Dodge, D.D.S., welcomed the campus community and keynote speaker Dr. Martha Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

In her presentation “NIDCR: Guiding advances in oral health research and innovation,” Dr. Somerman presented the mission of the institute and areas in research needed to integrate the lower half of the face with the remaining body.

Presentations included short faculty talks presented by Dr. Stephen Harris, Dr. Nikita Ruparel and Dr. Joseph Connor. The distinguished faculty lecture was given by Dr. David Cochran on “Dental implants and inflammation – a risky association.”

The Distinguished Research Mentor Award was established to recognize the dedication and commitment of a faculty member and the impact of a mentor on the development of a mentee. The inaugural award was given to Carolyn E.Z. Pickering, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Nursing.

Her mentee, Ola Ukaoma (DS2), said, “Dr. Pickering encouraged my integration methods of monitoring the oral health of people living with dementia. In collaboration, our research uncovered that people with dementia may be at risk of developing oral disease due to lack of care provided by their caregivers. … My mentor consistently encourages me to pursue a career in academia and research, which is something I had not considered before beginning dental school.”

The dental science symposium was organized by the San Antonio Chapter of the AADR with the support of the Office of the Dental Dean, OKU, Vice President for Research, and Student Service Fee Committee.

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