San Antonio Business Journal: 2019 Health Care Heroes: John Rugh

From the San Antonio Business Journal

John Rugh, Ph.D.


Dr. John Rugh, professor, UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry

John Rugh is professor and director of the evidence-based practice program at UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry. Raised in Corvallis, Oregon, he received a doctorate from the University of California Santa Barbara and a postdoctorate from Claremont Graduate School. At UT Health, he founded and directed the dental school’s Facial Pain Clinic, and was research director and chair of the orthodontics department. Nationally, Rugh was president of the American Association for Dental Research from 1994 to 1995, and he received the Distinguished Scientist Award in 2002 from the International Association for Dental Research. Rugh received the 2012 University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education first place award for “Innovations in Health Science.” In 2016, he received the American Dental Association’s EBD Award. With National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health, ADA and industry funding, he has published more than 350 research articles and abstracts during his 40-plus years at UT Health.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in health care and why? I chose an academic health career because I learned early in life that one of the most meaningful and gratifying things in life is to be in a position to help someone. My career at UT Health in research, education and administration has provided me this opportunity every day of the week.

What was your first job, and what lesson did you learn that is applicable to what you do today? The first 30 years of my career were focused on the discovery of new knowledge related to specific oral disorders and treatments. About 10 years ago, I discovered research showing that there was a 10- to 20-year delay in getting new biomedical knowledge into the practice settings where it could be used to help patients. To address this problem, I refocused my attention on developing programs for the dissemination and implementation of new knowledge into the private practice settings and directly to the public where it would benefit those in need. One of the programs is the UT Health Evidence-Based Practice Critically Appraised Topics online database, or CATs, [which] has become a worldwide resource for up-to-date oral health information for practitioners and the public.

Tell us about a patient or a case that upon reflection explains “this is why I do what I do.” I continue to be excited about our science dissemination CATs program because our online database has received over 800,000 page views from dentists and the public. Also, links to our CATs online database can be found on university library and health profession websites in many countries around the world. Our San Antonio dental school faculty, residents and students are pleased to learn that the Clinically Appraised Topics they have published on the website are being read and have brought national and international recognition to our dental school.


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