Celebrating Our Community
International Effort Co-led by Dr. Habib Benzian Prompts Addition of Dental Category to the WHO List of Essential Medicines
After many years, an international effort to add a dental category to the WHO (World Health Organization) List of Essential Medicines has succeeded in adding fluoride toothpaste, silver diamine fluoride (SDF), and glass ionomer cement to its list of essential medications for adults and children, effective October 1, 2021.
The effort was co-led by Dr. Habib Benzian, co-director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Quality Improvement and Evidence-based Dentistry at NYU Dentistry, and Dr. Benoit Varenne, dental officer in the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) department of The WHO.
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Dr. Caroline Sawicki, a second-year pediatric dentistry postgraduate student and postdoctoral fellow at NYU Dentistry, has received a Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23). This NIH/NIDCR funded grant provides support for the career development of exceptional clinician-scientists who have made a commitment to patient-oriented research, and who have the potential to develop into productive, clinical investigators. The award provides $560,000 over five years for Dr. Sawicki’s investigation into sensory changes and pain that accompany oral cancer. Her research will take place within NYU Dentistry’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research and Oral Cancer Center, which are directed by Dr. Brian L. Schmidt, vice dean for research and faculty affairs. The K23 award also provides a yearly stipend and additional financial support for Dr. Sawicki’s career development activities and travel to scientific meetings.
Squamous cell carcinoma, the most common form of oral cancer, is one of the most painful malignancies. Despite this, the etiology of oral cancer pain is not well understood. Orofacial pain is often the first symptom of oral cancer and spurs patients to seek diagnosis and treatment. The severity and character of oral cancer pain varies widely, but many patients suffer from debilitating pain when eating and drinking. To investigate the neurologic mechanisms responsible for oral cancer pain, Dr. Sawicki proposes to collect data from patients who have volunteered to participate in studies at the NYU Oral Cancer Center. “Understanding the neurobiologic mechanisms responsible for oral cancer pain may facilitate the development of novel, non-opioid treatment strategies that specifically address the unique pain experienced by individual patients,” explains Dr. Sawicki.
A significant obstacle to treating cancer pain is that the relative contributions of pain-producing mediators and their mechanisms of action, i.e., responsible receptors, are largely unknown. Dr. Sawicki’s research will test whether the character of pain experienced by patients with oral cancer is dependent on the level of activation of ion channels in pain sensing neurons. “There’s a lack of published data characterizing the sensory phenotype of tumor-related cancer pain,” says Dr. Schmidt. “Dr. Sawicki’s proposed work has significant implications for understanding the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of cancer pain.”
Dr. Sawicki chose to pursue pediatric dentistry postgraduate clinical training and a postdoctoral translational pain research fellowship at NYU Dentistry in order to achieve her long-term goal of directing clinical investigations of pediatric orofacial pain and neurobiologic mechanisms. “By pursuing postgraduate clinical training as well as postdoctoral work in clinical research, Dr. Sawicki will become uniquely qualified to direct an academic translational research program in pediatric dentistry that integrates clinical and research disciplines focused on management of orofacial pain,” says Dr. Amr Moursi, professor and chair of the NYU Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “The consequences of untreated orofacial pain in pediatric patients are severe, and Dr. Sawicki’s future investigations will improve pain management for countless children suffering from chronic orofacial pain.”
In his response to an article detailing the ADA's opposition to a proposal to include dental coverage for all Medicare recipients, Dr. Rick Valachovic, clinical professor and director of the NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, argues that since the major barrier to obtaining dental care is cost, the expansion of Medicare Part B to include dental benefits would go a long way toward ensuring that the 60 million seniors and people with disabilities are able to obtain the care they need.
Dr. Andrea Schreiber, formerly senior associate dean for education, has assumed the position of vice dean for academic affairs, as of September 1, 2021.
A clinical professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Dr. Schreiber served as associate dean for graduate and postgraduate programs from 2012 to 2017, and was named senior associate dean for education in 2018.
“Dr. Schreiber’s outstanding work throughout the 2017 Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) process, and her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic in convincing New York State and CODA to allow NYU Dentistry to proceed with a non-clinical alternative to enable the Class of 2020 to complete graduation requirements on time, more than qualify her to take on this new assignment,” said Dean Bertolami.
Dr. Brian Schmidt, director of the NYU Bluestone Center for Clinical Research and the NYU Oral Cancer Center, and one of the nation’s preeminent oral cancer researchers, has assumed the position of vice dean for research and faculty affairs, as of September 1, 2021. In that capacity, he will continue to advance the college’s robust research enterprise and will oversee the Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure process, while also working with the Office of Human Resources and Faculty Services on faculty recruitment and hiring.
“Dr. Schmidt is at the forefront of biomedical research into oral cancer from the molecular level to clinical patient studies,” said Dean Bertolami. Backed by NIH funding, Dr. Schmidt currently researches genetic biomarkers for precancer and cancer, neural pain pathways for new pain control therapies, and novel oral cavity reconstruction techniques.
In addition, he and Dr. Nigel Bunnett, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Pathobiology, are working to develop alternatives to opioids to treat chronic pain and oral cancer pain. This research involves developing strategies for pain relief that target specific genes, as well as using nanoparticles to more precisely deliver the therapies.
To celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Ralph Katz, former professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, who passed away on May 26, 2021, after a long illness, his friends and colleagues, Dr. Ananda Dasanayake, Dr. Stefanie Russell, and Dr. Rueben Warren, director of the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care and Professor of Bioethics at Tuskegee University, published “A Tribute to Ralph V. Katz: A Giant in Dental Education, Minority Health, and Health Research,” in the August 2021 issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Read the tribute.
Dr. Natalia Elson, clinical assistant professor of cariology and comprehensive care, on receiving a certificate of achievement on completing a “Comprehensive Course in Photobiomodulation” presented by G.M.A. Laser Education and a Certificate of Recognition for her role as a keynote speaker at the 6th International Conference on Dentistry presented by Madridge Conferences.
Dr. Seung-Hee Rhee, clinical associate professor of cariology and comprehensive care, on being featured in AGD Impact Magazine in an article titled "Dr. Rhee Blazes a Trail toward More Diverse Leadership in Dentistry."
Dr. Caroline Sawicki, Advanced Education Program in Pediatric Dentistry, ’22, and a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Brian Schmidt’s lab, on being awarded the ADA Foundation’s 2021 Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award.
Dr. Caroline Sawicki, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Brian Schmidt’s lab and a first-year student in the postgraduate program in pediatric dentistry, has been selected to receive the 2021 International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Women in Science Award for Distinguished Research. The award recognizes excellence in Oral/ Dental/ Craniofacial Research by a female researcher, who is a first or senior author.
Dr. Sawacki was the first author on the paper titled "Microglia Promote Increased Pain Behavior through Enhanced Inflammation in the Spinal Cord during Repeated Social Defeat Stress.” The article highlights the complexity of nociceptive mechanisms and addresses an intractable medical problem surrounding pain, stress, and anxiety. It was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Dr. Habib Benzian, co-director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Quality-Improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry and research professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, was featured in a New York Times Magazine story titled “The Pandemic Was Bad for Our Teeth. Will It Change Oral Health Forever?"
Dr. Marci Levine and colleagues Dr. Robert Glickman, Dr. Elizabeth McAlpin, and Mr. Cristian Opazo have been selected to receive a $5,000 NYU Curricular Development Challenge Fund grant for their proposal, "Using Virtual Reality Technology to Advance Dental Education." The Curricular Development Challenge Fund was established to assist the development, expansion, review, or redirection of academic programs and courses at New York University.
Dr. Nicola Partridge, professor of molecular pathobiology and former chair of the Department of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology, has been invited to serve as chairperson of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Skeletal Biology Development and Disease Study (SBDD) section for the term beginning July 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2022. Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on the applications to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science.
Dr. Partridge is eminently well qualified to assume this position. She is a national and international authority in the area of molecular endocrinology and an expert in bone and mineral research, including osteoporosis. Her demonstrated skill and leadership will enable her to determine to a significant extent the effectiveness and efficiency of the study section she is chairing.
We congratulate Dr. Partridge on this latest recognition of the major role she is playing in advancing the national biomedical research effort.
- All the recipients of the 2021 Dean's Student Awards, who were recognized at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 5. View the Zoom recording; view the presentation.
- All the OKU inductees and award recipients who were recognized at the 92nd Annual OKU Convocation & Induction Ceremony on Thursday, May 6. View the Zoom recording; view the program.
- Erin Brent, associate dean for financial and academic planning & strategic initiatives, on authoring, "Assessing price sensitivity in dental education and implications on student diversity" for Journal of Dental Education.
- Dr. Lorel Burns, assistant professor of endodontics, on authoring, "Reimagining the pipeline: Saturday Academy at New York University College of Dentistry goes virtual" for the Journal of Dental Education. Dr. Burns' co-authors included Dr. Cheryline Pezzullo, clinical assistant professor of cariology and comprehensive care; Sandy Dief (DDS Class of ’23); Giannina Conde (DDS Class of ’21); and Dr. Eugenia Mejia, assistant dean for admissions and enrollment management.
- Dr. Alexis Cohen, clinical assistant professor of pediatric dentistry, on being appointed Director of Global Outreach. Dr. Cohen will also be engaged in several other public health projects.
- Edmund Khoo, clinical associate professor of orthodontics, on being appointed Permanent Examiner by the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). Dr. Khoo previously served as a Guest Examiner for the ABO.
- Dr. Anabella Oquendo, clinical assistant professor of cariology and comprehensive care, on being appointed Clinical Director of the Programs for International Dentists.
- Dr. André Ritter, professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, on being appointed section editor for operative dentistry for the Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry.
- Richard Valachovic, visiting scholar and founding director of the Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, on giving the opening presentation for the March meeting of the Association for Dental Education, Asia Pacific, titled, "Advancing Global Oral Health Policy and Management in an Academic Setting."
Elizabeth Garrison, '21, Receives American College of Dentists Student Achievement Award
Elizabeth Garrison, ’21, was one of only four senior dental students across New York who received the Student Achievement Award presented by the New York Section of the American College of Dentists. One student each from Columbia, Stonybrook, and Touro was also recognized. The award honors exceptional achievement by a graduating dental student. Upon graduation, Ms. Garrison will be entering a General Practice Residency in Morristown, New Jersey.
Cristian Opazo, director of educational technology, will present “Local Anesthesia VR: An Immersive VR Training Program for Dental Anesthesia” at the Fifth Annual Virtual Reality and Healthcare Global Symposium.
NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities Selected to Receive AAPD's 2021 Manuel M. Album Award
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's (AAPD) prestigious Manuel M. Album Award is presented annually to an individual or organization that has made the greatest contribution to the oral health of children with special needs. This award honors AAPD member Manuel M. Album, who devoted an entire career in pediatric dentistry to improving the oral health of children with special needs. The NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities will be featured in a video to be created by the AAPD to celebrate the award.
The January 2021 special emphasis issue of The New York State Dental Journal, "Surviving the Pandemic: Dentistry Faces Down the Virus," features an article by Drs. Victoria Raveis, David Glotzer, and André V. Ritter on “Dental Care in the Time of COVID-19: Integrating Telehealth into the Clinical Care Process." The article chronicles the development and implementation of NYU Dentistry’s Telehealth Service, which became an essential resource during the pandemic, and predicts that its integration into the routine delivery of care post-pandemic is assured.
Dr. Caroline Sawicki Receives Postdoctoral TL1 Award from the NYU Clinical and Translational Science Institute to Study Oral Cancer Pain
Dr. Caroline Sawicki, a first-year pediatric dentistry postgraduate student and postdoctoral fellow at NYU Dentistry, has been selected as a TL1 fellow by the NYU Clinical and Translational Science Institute. This NIH-funded grant supports exceptional postdoctoral scholars who are committed to pursuing research careers in multidisciplinary clinical and translational science. With support from the TL1 program, Dr. Sawicki will characterize sensory changes and pain that accompany oral cancer. All of her research will be undertaken at the NYU Bluestone Center for Clinical Research and NYU Oral Cancer Center, both of which are housed at NYU Dentistry and directed by Dr. Brian L. Schmidt. The TL1 award also provides a two-year stipend and additional financial support for Dr. Sawicki’s tuition and travel to scientific meetings.
Squamous cell carcinoma, the most common form of oral cancer, is one of the most painful malignancies; however, the etiology of oral cancer pain is not well understood. Orofacial pain is often the first symptom of oral cancer and spurs patients to seek diagnosis and treatment. The severity and character of oral cancer pain varies widely, but many patients suffer from debilitating pain during functions such as eating and drinking. To investigate the neurologic mechanisms responsible for oral cancer pain, Dr. Sawicki proposes to collect data from patients who have volunteered to participate in studies at the NYU Oral Cancer Center. "As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Sawicki is uniquely qualified to pursue this type of research," says Dr. Schmidt. "After gathering clinical data from oral cancer patients, she must interpret her findings in the complex context of cancer biology and neurobiology. Dr. Sawicki is highly motivated to pursue this work because she is close enough to the clinical problem to understand the enormity of the stakes for patients with this disease."
Dr. Sawicki’s research will test whether the character of pain experienced by patients with oral cancer is dependent on the level of activation of channels in pain sensing neurons. The relative contributions of nociceptive (pain producing) mediators and their mechanisms of action (i.e., responsible receptors) are largely unknown. "Our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms responsible of cancer pain is limited by a dearth of published data which characterize the sensory phenotype of tumor-related cancer pain," says Dr. Sawicki. "Based on the heterogeneity of oral cancer, it’s plausible that every oral cancer expresses a unique cocktail of pain mediators that differentially activate and sensitize specific channels on nociceptors. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms responsible for oral cancer pain may facilitate the development of novel, non-opioid treatment strategies that specifically address the unique pain experienced by individual patients."
Dr. Sawicki completed her DDS and PhD degrees at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry in May 2020. During her training, Dr. Sawicki was inspired to improve pain management in children suffering from chronic orofacial pain when she became aware of the prevalence and severity of orofacial pain in the pediatric dental population. Dr. Sawicki chose to pursue a combined pediatric dentistry residency and postdoctoral translational pain research fellowship at NYU Dentistry. "Few dental graduates pursue a residency as well as postdoctoral work in clinical research," said Dr. Amr Moursi, chair of the NYU Department of Pediatric Dentistry. "We specifically designed Dr. Sawicki’s dual training program to provide her with the skills and experience necessary to direct an integrated clinical and laboratory research program to investigate pediatric orofacial pain."
Read Dr. Le's paper, "Use of 'Poppers' Among Adults in the United States, 2015-2017," which appears in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
For the first time since 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted a resolution on oral health calling for the development of a Global Strategy, Action Plan, and Monitoring Framework for improvement of oral health globally until 2031. NYU Dentistry’s Department Epidemiology & Health Promotion, which was recently redesignated by the WHO as a WHO Collaborating Center for Quality Improvement and Evidence-based Dentistry through December 2024, was involved in the preparations and background documentation that led to the adoption of this resolution.
The NYU Dentistry WHO Collaborating Center is one of only 10 Collaborating Centers on oral health in the world and the only one in the Americas. The center is co-directed by Habib Benzian, DDS, MScDPH, PhD, and Eugenio Beltrán, DMD, DrPH, MPH. Read Dr. Benzian's insight into the context in which the resolution was adopted.
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry’s Bringing Smiles Dental Enrichment Program (BSDEP) has received a $5,000 donation from the Omega Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU), the national dental honor society. BSDEP is a pipeline program that supports and prepares underrepresented minority pre-dental students (interns) for successful application and matriculation into dental school.
OKU’s generous donation will go directly to supporting the BSDEP interns, helping to offset the high cost of applying to dental school (including costs associated with DAT preparation, applications, interviews, and deposits, among others).
James Keenan, clinical assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology and medicine, on being elected Secretary of the New York Academy of General Dentistry.
Edmund Khoo, clinical associate professor of orthodontics, on being elected President of the NYU Dentistry Orthodontics Alumni Association.
Wayne Kye, clinical associate professor of periodontology and implant dentistry, on being elected President of the Northeastern Society of Periodontists.
Fabiola Milord, clinical assistant professor of cariology and comprehensive care, on being President of the Long Island Academy of Odontology.
Seung-Hee Rhee, clinical associate professor of cariology and comprehensive care, on receiving the 2021 Meritorious Service Award from the New York Academy of General Dentistry.
Vera Tang, clinical assistant professor of periodontology and implant dentistry, on being elected Treasurer of the New York County Dental Society.
Analia Veitz-Keenan, clinical professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology and medicine, on being elected Vice President of the New York Academy of General Dentistry.
Roger Warren, adjunct clinical associate professor of periodontology and implant dentistry, on being elected President-elect of the Northeastern Society of Periodontists.
Mara Zelaya, graduate program coordinator in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Management, on being appointed a member of ADEA’s Centralized Application for Advanced Placement (ADEA CAAPID) Advisory Group for a three-year term beginning in March 2021.
The NYU Dentistry Distinguished Teaching Award Committee, chaired by Dr. Leila Jahangiri, Ira E. Klein Professor and Chair of the Department of Prosthodontics, has nominated Dr. Ross Kerr, clinical professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology and medicine, for the high honor of receiving the 2021 NYU Distinguished Teaching Award.
The Distinguished Teaching Award, established in 1987, is presented annually to outstanding full-time faculty members in recognition that one of NYU's primary institutional priorities, along with research, is exceptional teaching inside and outside of the classroom setting.
The Distinguished Teaching Award highlights New York University's commitment to teaching excellence and is given annually to selected outstanding members of the faculty. Recipients are presented with a medal and a research stipend.
Dr. Kerr’s teaching has been widely acclaimed for championing the fight against oral cancer and, in particular, creating a comprehensive curriculum in oral cancer detection and risk management for dental students at NYU. This innovative curriculum is now taught nationally and internationally.
The winners will be announced in the spring.
Growing up in New Jersey as the child of two dentists, Racquel Jones (NYU College of Dentistry ’24) helped out in her parents’ practice but wasn’t always sure she wanted to follow in their footsteps for her career. Instead, she found herself gravitating toward computers and technology.
“I like solving puzzles, so I really liked the problems they would give us for programming,” says Racquel, who majored in computer science as an undergraduate at Rutgers.
But Racquel’s experiences in NYU Dentistry’s Saturday Academy, along with a course in dental radiology that she took to be able to assist her parents, helped rekindle her interest in the family business. She was part of the inaugural (2013) cohort of the free weekend program that introduces high school students from primarily underrepresented backgrounds to dentistry and provides them with skills for applying to college, including filling out the FAFSA and preparing for interviews.
It was while she was still at Rutgers that Racquel looked at a PowerPoint from Saturday Academy explaining what courses were necessary for applying to dental school and realized she could both complete the pre-dental requirements and finish her degree in computer science in four years. By that point, she says, “I felt like the reason why I was choosing dentistry wasn't because of my parents—it was because of me.”
Racquel didn’t expect to graduate from college and start dental school in the midst of a pandemic, of course, but she’s making the best of it. Her favorite class so far was Head and Neck Anatomy, even though the class was taught remotely. “I find the human body fascinating,” she says. Racquel also got a kick out of returning to NYU Dentistry’s simulation lab this fall, where she had previously created dental impressions—an imprint of the teeth and gums used to plan treatment—as a high school student in Saturday Academy.
Her ultimate goal? Creating improved software for dental practices—developed by a dentist, for dentists. Most dental offices use database software to manage their patients, but it may fall short of their needs. “I can clearly see that the software is written through the lens of a programmer and not through the lens of a dentist,” she says. While many dentists use advanced hardware to plan and provide dental care, Racquel thinks she can make the biggest difference by using her programming expertise to improve the software. “The goal is to help people work more effectively with technology,” she says.
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry has coproduced the January issue of the NYC Department of Education Division of Early Childhood Education Health Literacy Newsletter for January. The issue, “Health Literacy in Early Childhood (PDF),” was coauthored by Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatric Dentistry Jill Fernandez and Pediatric Dentistry Outreach Program Administrator Samantha Shrager. The newsletter featured NYU’s toothpaste brushing guide and two short parent workshops on oral health and two live workshops, which will be hosted by Professor Fernandez and Ms. Shrager.
Dr. Timothy Bromage, professor of molecular pathobiology, is featured in a new video series honoring the legacy of Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald, the German-Dutch paleoanthropologist who discovered fossils of human ancestors on the island of Java in the first half of the last century. In episode two Dr. Bromage talks about how we can study growth and life history in teeth and how trace elements and specific isotopes incorporated into mineralized tooth enamel during childhood, even after millions of years, can provide clues to the environment hominins lived in and what they ate.
The College of Dentistry is one of 13 schools and units slated for election of their representatives and alternate representatives to the NYU Administrative Management Council (AMC).
Administrators from the College of Dentistry who are interested in the opportunity to serve in the upcoming term (June 2021 through August 2023) should contact Maria DeAcetis, our Senior Unit Representative, at email@example.com.
The following reps/alternate reps whose terms are ending as of May 2021 are Maria Deacitis (Senior Unit Rep), Jocelyn Ochoa, Toni Depena, Jessica Jackson. Topaz Murray-Small, Asuncion Wein, Chris Wilson, Lisa Kahn, Irene Olshan and Natalia Tyhovych.
For the upcoming election cycle, we have seven representative slots and seven alternate representatives — a total of 14 slots available. The number of votes garnered from the College of Dentistry Administrator community will determine whether a candidate becomes the representative or alternate representative.
Currently, most AMC meetings are held via Zoom.
Why run for office at the school and at the AMC at large:
- Interact with faculty, students, and senior leadership
- Collaborate on strategic initiatives and projects
- Advocate on behalf of the administrator community
- Enhance and/or expand your current skill set for an immersive professional development experience
Additionally, the AMC will be having an election for the AMC Officers (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer) for a one-year term. We will also be electing three AMC Senators and six alternate Senators to serve a two year term. The top three candidates with the most votes will be selected as Senator and the next 6 candidates will be selected as alternate Senator.
If you are interested in running, you can contact Maria Deacitis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Within the next few weeks, the AMC Nominations & Elections committee will be releasing a Qualtrics form that you can use to self-nominate or peer nominate someone who you think can be a great representative to the AMC.
If you want to nominate a colleague, please be sure that they are aware of the nomination. Additionally, if you are interested in running for AMC leadership or AMC Senator, please note that you may only run for one position at a time.
- Jan 22, 2021 – AMC 101 event, open to anyone interested in running for AMC leadership positions
- February 2021 – Call for nominations
- March 2021 – Ballots to be finalized
- April 2021 – Voting