School of Dentistry earns 34th place in international ranking

School of Dentistry sign on campus

UT Health San Antonio continues to improve in the annual Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as the ShanghaiRanking. In the category of Dentistry & Oral Sciences, based at UT Health San Antonio in the School of Dentistry, the university is ranked 34th worldwide. The university’s ranking is also 16th among U.S. universities and No. 1 among the three Texas schools included in the ranking.

This year’s ranking in Dental & Oral Sciences category tops 37th place that the School of Dentistry earned in 2020 and 44th place in 2019.

“This ranking and our increase in ranking are an indication of the impactful research that the school is doing. It really advances oral health and the understanding of oral disease, which is obviously impactful worldwide. The rankings also are a reflection of our excellent training programs, not only our dental training programs, as we’re training the next generation of clinicians, but also of our clinician-scientists, who are carrying on our ground-breaking and cutting-edge research,” said Peter Loomer, B.Sc., D.D.S., Ph.D., MRCD(C), FACD, dean of the School of Dentistry.

Dr. Loomer said that the ShanghaiRanking is one of the most reliable global ranking organizations. This year’s rankings include more than 1,800 universities selected from more than 4,000 educational institutions worldwide located in 93 countries.

The rankings reflect comparisons in 54 subject areas, measuring performance using objective data and third-party information in such categories as research quality, research influence, international collaboration and international academic awards.

Here are some examples of the School of Dentistry’s excellence:

Research quality and influence

A study published in the June edition of the journal Nature Metabolism by Kenneth Hargreaves, DDS, PhD, is among the top 1% of articles downloaded from all scientific journals published that month. The study showed that a traditional Western Diet can contribute to chronic pain, while a diet rich in foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids, such foods as fish, walnuts and flaxseed, can help eliminate chronic pain.

Georgios A. Kotsakis, DDS, MS, published an article in the July edition of the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences that explores the genetic differences that can make some people more susceptible to chronic inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. The bacteria that develop in the mouth when people do not brush their teeth can cause diseases that affect the entire body, Dr. Loomer said, adding, “Dentistry is not usually represented in this top journal.”

International collaboration

The School of Dentistry has a long history of working with universities from other countries to improve education, research and dental care. They include a dental exchange program with students from Meikai University and Asahi University in Japan that was instituted in 1995. The School of Dentistry’s affiliation with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to provide advanced dental education to SACM post-graduates was initiated in 2010. The school also has collaborations with New York University in Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, and a teaching, research and outreach agreement with Kenya Methodist University which began at UT Health San Antonio in 2019, when Dr. Loomer joined the university as dental dean.

Awards and leadership

In 2018, Dr. Hargreaves, professor and chair of the Department of Endodontics, was awarded the Gold Medal for Research by the American Dental Association. The award, presented by the organization every three years, recognizes Dr. Hargreaves’ practice-changing research in the treatment of chronic pain.

In May, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) presented Kevin Donly, DDS, MS, with the Griffin Humanitarian Award, which honors an outstanding AAPD member who is committed to improving the oral health of underserved populations. As chair of the Department of Developmental Dentistry, Dr. Donly supervises senior dental student rotations at the Laredo Health Department in Laredo and the Ricardo Salinas Clinic in San Antonio. Both provide primary dental care for underserved youth.

Another accomplishment is that Dr. Loomer has just been elected the incoming president of the International Academy of Contemporary Dentistry. This group’s mission is to provide interprofessional education to health care providers in Asia to improve oral care and overall health in that part of the world, where continuing education is often lacking.

He said, “It will be an honor to serve in this position, as it goes hand-in-hand with this honor. We’re here to serve the citizens of Texas, but we’re also here to improve oral health worldwide.”

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