Dear students, faculty, alumni, staff, and friends,
This newsletter arrives in your inboxes during a challenging time. Nearly every day, we are confronted with updates concerning the global economic crisis as well as new information about the impact it may have on the University of California and UCLA in particular.
During the past months, I've had many opportunities to discuss the challenges we face with students, alumni, staff and faculty alike. Time and again, I have been heartened by your resolve and support. I appreciate your dedication—to educating our students, caring for our patients, advancing our scientific research, and supporting the school.
This newsletter provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our many strengths and to renew our confidence that we will emerge from this economic crisis as an even more powerful institution.
Wishing everyone a strong finish to the spring quarter,
Dean No-Hee Park, DMD, PhD
DENTAL SCHOOL STUDENTS AND FACULTY WIN MULTIPLE HONORS AT I/AADR
At the level of both our students and our faculty, the research culture at the UCLA School of Dentistry is thriving. One need only look to the school's recent performance at the I/AADR meeting in Miami, Florida to see the evidence.
Before the conference, we were informed that Anna Kreymer (MS in oral biology ’08), a first-year student in the combined DDS-PhD program, and third-year predoctoral student Deema Saad had won AADR Bloc travel grants enabling them to present their research.
Cristiane Mengatto, a former visiting scholar in the Weintraub Center (2008), received the First Place Arthur Frechette Award for her work in the biological sciences and tissue engineering.
Shebli Merhazarin, a first-year DDS/PhD student, won the First Place Jonathan Ship Award for the best poster presentation in geriatric oral research.
Bo Yu, who is enrolled in his second year of predoctoral study and is also working toward a PhD, took First Place in the junior category of the AADR/Johnson & Johnson Oral Health Products Hatton Awards Competition. Bo also earned Second Place in the prestigious IADR/Unilever Hatton Competition.
Cun-Yu Wang received the Distinguished Scientist Award in the field of Oral Medicine and Pathology Research. In addition, one of his research publications earned the William J. Gies Award for Biological Research.
Mo Kwan Kang was honored with the Young Investigator Award.
DENTISTRY ADDS TWO NEW ENDOWED CHAIRS
Gift from Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation Makes New Named Professorship Possible
On January 6, 2009, the dental school issued an announcement that a $1 Million gift from the Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation had established the Dr. No-Hee Park Endowed Chair in Dentistry. The donors, Shirley and Ralph Shapiro, are UCLA alumni with a long history of giving back to their alma mater.
The seventh endowed chair to be created at the dental school, the Park Chair honors the current dean and is intended to foster excellence in research and scholarship in biomedical and dental science.
"I am deeply moved that Shirley and Ralph Shapiro have chosen to create this chair and to do so in my name," said Dr. Park. "This is the most significant honor of my career."
On March 5, 2009, the school announced Dr. Cun-Yu Wang, an eminent cancer scientist and the chair of the dental school's Division of Oral Biology & Medicine, as the first person to hold the chair.
“My major goal is to bridge the gap between science and dental medicine,” said Dr. Wang, whose research focuses on oral cancer.
“In our long association with the dental school, my wife, Shirley, and I have been impressed by the breadth and quality of the dental medicine research being conducted by its faculty,” said Ralph Shapiro. “We look forward to the new advances in scientific understanding that are certain to emanate from Cun-Yu Wang’s laboratory.”
New Grants Awarded to Faculty
Tara Aghaloo has won two new grants. One, in the amount of $74,000 from the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation, will aid her research on bone response to bisphosphonates. The other, from the Musculoskeletal Foundation in the amount of $124,620, will advance her work on enhancing bone regeneration.
Neal Garrett's new $64,545 grant from GlaxoSmithKline will support a clinical trial designed to study the quality of life of denture-wearers.
The NIH's National Institute for Drug Abuse has awarded $447,150 to Igor Spigelman for an exploratory study of the development of Peripherally-acting cannabinoid-1 receptor ligands.
A $1,540,000 grant from the NIH's National Cancer Institute will support Cun-Yu Wang's work on NF-kB signaling in osteociastogenesis and osteolytic bone metastasis.
David Wong has received a two-year grant in the amount of $1,761,985 from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to discover key molecular targets that are responsible for Sjogren’s syndrome and malignant lymphoma. The grant funding was made possible by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was signed into law in February 2009 to help stem the current economic crisis. The goal of ARRA is to create and/or save millions of jobs, advance American innovation, and lay a stronger economic foundation to grow the economy in the 21st century.
Francisco Ramos-Gomez's Community-Based Participatory Research Gets Boost from New Grant
When the San Francisco Business Times reported that the UCSF School of Dentistry had received a new $24.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the UCLA School of Dentistry had reason to celebrate too. That is because more than $2 Million of that funding, which will be used to address socio-economic and cultural disparities in oral health, will support the work of UCLA professor Francisco Ramos-Gomez.
Dr. Ramos-Gomez, formerly a member of the faculty at UCSF, continues to be a member of its research Center to Address Disparities in Children's Oral Health (acronym: CANDO). A pediatric and public health dentist, much of his work focuses on issues of oral health disparities in the Latino community.
The new grant will enable Ramos-Gomez to continue the next stage of his work on the Mothers and Youth Access (MAYA) clinical trial, conducted at the San Ysidro Community Health Center, which seeks to identify best practices in a Prevention Management Model for caring for the oral health of under-represented minority, maternal-age women, their infants, and their young children based on the U.S.-Mexico border.
To date, the research has yielded useful information not only about exactly what constitutes effective oral heath care interventions for the prevention of early childhood caries (click here for an article about fluoride varnishes published in the Journal of Dental Research), but also about the best way to pursue clinical trials with this unique, vulnerable patient population.
To learn more about the factors involved in Dr. Ramos-Gomez's work recruiting and retaining clinical trial participants, click here for a PubMed abstract of an article that appeared in the journal Clinical Trials.
Forward Strides in Patient Care & Community Service
Upward Bound House
Since 1969, the UCLA School of Dentistry has played an important role in Venice, improving the oral health of the Westside community via the Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center.
Since 1991, Upward Bound House of Santa Monica has been keeping families together, offering safe, clean housing and other forms of assistance—from parenting workshops to classes in budgeting and word processing—to homeless families on LA's Westside.
Now, the two organizations are working together. Beginning this spring, the men, women and children who reside at Upward Bound House's "Family Place" transitional housing shelter have access to dental care at the Venice clinic.
Many of the homeless children easily qualify for dental insurance benefits, however finding funding for adult oral health care can be a challenge—especially in light of the State of California's decision to eliminate Denti-Cal coverage for adults beginning July 1, 2009.
Dean Park has committed $20,000 from the Robert and Marion Wilson Patient Care Endowment to fund adult care. According to David Snow, executive director of Upward Bound House, the new relationship and the funding could not have come at a better time.
Upward Bound House is currently in the process of converting a former motel in Culver City into a new facility, and will soon increase the number of families it serves.
"The current economic crisis is having a profound impact on families who are losing their jobs and their homes," said David Snow, UCLA Anderson MBA '00. "We're on the front lines, in a partnership with UCLA's dental school, doing our small part to help these families get back on the path to self-sufficiency in good health."
Venice and Inglewood Kids Have a Reason to Smile
Give Kids a Smile Day is an annual, nationwide effort to provide free dental care to children. In good times and in bad, the event involves many thousands of people, yet somehow when the UCLA School of Dentistry gets involved, it all manages to feel quite local and personal.
As in years past, UCLA hosted the event at the Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center and also provided student, staff and faculty volunteers at the Children's Dental Center in Inglewood. We were joined in our efforts by volunteer dentists affiliated with the Western Los Angeles Dental Society.
Parents and kids started filing into line an hour before the official start time. Some children were visibly nervous. Others were stoic. One girl was an "old pro"--she had been to a dentist before and knew just how to calm her younger sisters. A group of boys passed the time playing a handheld video game. Nearly every child left with a sticker, some face paint, and a smile.
Faculty Group Dental Practice Gets a Makeover
The Faculty Group Dental Practice located on UCLA's campus in Suite 350 at 100 Medical Plaza received a makeover this year. Practice manager Rochelle Bache planned the renewal for nearly 12 months, then guided the interior decoration efforts, transforming the dental office into a space evocative of a boutique hotel's lobby. The goal, Bache said, was "To make the space more relaxing, more welcoming. We wanted an environment indicative of the quality of care our dentists provide."
Leather chairs, vinyl floors, warm walls faux painted in shades of browns, coral and gold, abstract artwork, mirrors, and glowing hanging lanterns complement the 11 new operatories complete with flat-screen TVs. Patient feedback has been uniformly positive, and Bache has plans to turn her attention to redecorating Suite 355.
Apollonian Society Subsidy Benefits Students and Patients
It is a fact of life in the predoctoral clinics: dental students must demonstrate competency in a variety of procedures, yet some patients have difficulty covering the full cost of necessary treatment. The Dean’s Newsletter spoke to Kevin Andrus ’09 to learn how gifts from the Apollonian Society help bridge the gap.
Dean’s Newsletter: Each year, the Apollonian Society, a group of alumni and friends dedicated to enhancing the student experience, provides funding for what is known as the Patient Care Subsidy. How have you used this fund?
Kevin Andrus: I have used the patient care subsidy to provide removable and fixed partial dentures for my patients with limited finances.
DN: What was the result of the procedures funded by the subsidy?
KA: The subsidy opened treatment possibilities for my patient pool that they otherwise could not have afforded—the deep discount also incentivized my patients to return again and again during lengthy removable treatment. I also benefited greatly from the patient care subsidy as I gained needed clinical experience and met clinical requirements.
DN: What is the process for requesting subsidy funds?
KA: Requesting subsidy is simple. It requires filling out a form that outlines the subsidy request. The completed form is signed by my group practice and clinical directors and processed by the billing department.
DN: What would it have meant if the subsidy hadn’t been available?
KA: If the subsidy were not available, I would have experienced a more difficult time completing fixed and removable partial denture requirements. Thanks to the subsidy, we students are able to find the patient cases necessary to complete our minimum graduation requirements and the community surrounding UCLA is provided with high-quality and affordable care.
The patient care subsidy is another example of the positive impact the Apollonian Society has had on my UCLA dental school experience.