Faculty member receives national dentistry award

John Rugh, Ph.D., from the School of Dentistry at the UT Health San Antonio, recently received the Evidence-Based Dentistry Faculty Award for accomplished faculty members. It is a joint award from the American Dental Association and the American Association of Dental Research.

Marcelo Araujo (left), American Dental Association vice president of science, presents the award to Dr. Rugh.
Marcelo Araujo (left), American Dental Association vice president of science, presenting the award to Dr. Rugh.

Dr. Rugh received the award for his work establishing an educational program that has been adopted by many of the nation’s dental schools. It includes an online searchable database that has become a worldwide resource for up-to-date, evidence-based oral health information.

Concerned with the length of time it takes for dental research to be adopted in practice, Dr. Rugh in 2007 adapted a method beginning to be used in medical education to the dental school environment to help spread new knowledge in a more efficient manner – teaching dental students how to become lifelong learners at the same time.

Supported by a four-year National Institutes of Health Research Grant, Dr. Rugh highlighted research in the curriculum by developing a method for dental faculty members to teach their students how to formulate a focused clinical question, systematically search scientific literature, evaluate the quality of the available evidence and make a judgment about applying the research to a clinical situation. The students then wrote a short summary of what they learned for the Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) website. The searchable database is indexed by the British TRIP Database, a fast-result, evidence-based clinical search engines, making the clinical research more readily available to dentists, dental students and patients around the globe.

In nominating Dr. Rugh for the award, William Dodge, D.D.S., dean of the School of Dentistry, acknowledged the many projects Dr. Rugh has done through the years to integrate dental education, research and practice.

“Dr. Rugh’s pioneering and sustained efforts to promote the skills and principles of evidence-based practice have significantly advanced the teaching of evidence-based dentistry (EBD) in U.S. dental schools and the use of EBD in dental practice,” Dr. Dodge said.

In 2013, the School of Dentistry’s evidence-based practice CATs program received first place in the UT Academy of Health Science Education Innovation–the first dental school program in the UT System to receive this distinction.

Dr. Rugh joined the faculty in 1977. He has served as chairman of the Department of Orthodontics, where he established the orthodontic residency program, and as the school’s director of research. He is a past president of the American Association for Dental Research and served for four years on the National Institute for Dental Research Scientific Advisory Council. He is an honorary member of the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Orofacial Pain and the San Antonio District Dental Society, and is an honorary fellow in the American College of Dentists.

In 2002, he received the Distinguished Scientist Award in Behavior Sciences and Health Service Research from the International Association for Dental Research. He was elected as a member of the UT Academy of Health Science Education in 2012.

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