Penn Dental Medicine has received a major gift that will provide the resource to help build its leadership role in global oral and public health, according to the school.
The $5 million gift from alumnus Dr. Garry Rayant and his wife, Dr. Kathy Fields, will create a new endowed professorship at the school and provide foundational support to establish the Center for Integrative Global Oral Health.
“We are immensely grateful to Garry Rayant and Kathy Fields for this exceptional gift,” said Penn president Amy Gutmann.
“Penn Dental Medicine has long been a pioneer in advancing innovations that transform dental education, research, and practice here in Philadelphia and throughout the world,” Gutman said.
“This inspired commitment will continue that work by creating the Fields-Rayant Endowed Professorship and allowing us to take significant steps toward launching a new Center for Integrative Global Oral Health,” Gutman said.
“The tremendous vision and generosity of Dr. Rayant and Dr. Fields will have a far-reaching impact,” said Penn Dental Medicine Morton Amsterdam Dean Dr. Mark S. Wolff.
“Through this new center, we will be able to elevate the discussion on the vital role of oral health as part of overall health, to influence local, national, and global oral health policy, and to educate and train graduates to lead in developing public policy and addressing health inequities,” Wolff said.
The endowed Fields-Rayant Professorship will provide the first step in organizing the center, enabling the recruitment of a thought leader to work with faculty, develop curricula, and leverage partnerships with the university and beyond in formulating an initial plan of investigation, the school said.
Some of the center’s primary goals include developing curricula for DMD and master’s level training in issues of oral disease prevention, social-behavioral and commercial determinants of oral health, and integration of oral health as part of overall health, including:
- The establishment of a Penn Dental Medicine Master of Public Oral Health degree
- Conducting health policy and health systems research from both domestic and global perspectives
- Advancing dialogue in these areas with educators, practitioners, and policymakers
“Kathy and I believe that Penn Dental Medicine has the capacity to be a tremendous force in amplifying the current dialogue about global and integrative oral health,” said Rayant, who is a member of the Penn Dental Medicine Board of Advisors and will chair the initial advisory group for the center.
“In keeping with Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, Surgeon General’s 2020 report and priorities, the center will evaluate the interaction between oral health and general health throughout the lifespan and consider advances in science, healthcare integration, and social influences to articulate promising new directions for improving oral health and oral health equity across communities,” Rayant said.
“The impact of one of the oldest and most highly regarded dental schools in the United States taking on this work will be profound. We are excited to be part of it and for the many affiliated faculties that Penn uniquely brings to bear,” he said.
“By creating this center, we will be challenging the oral health community, and particularly oral health educators, to move well beyond producing technically adept professionals operating in isolation from other health providers,” Wolff said.
“Rather, we will become a visible force for integrative health, speaking truth to power about prevention and solidifying the role of the dentist as fundamental to ensuring the public’s overall good health,” Wolff said.
Penn Dental Medicine plans to launch a multiyear fundraising initiative to match the $5 million contribution from Rayant and Fields to capitalize the new center with an enduring endowment.