ADEAGies Foundation Salutes Innovators

Richard Gawel


The ADEAGies Foundation has announced the winners of its 2016 William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation, and Achievement. These honors salute individuals and organizations that exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research, and leadership.

“Our profession is constantly seeking new ways to educate students and to discover the best opportunities to meet the oral health needs of the public,” said Richard W. Valachovic, DMD, MPH, president of the ADEAGies Foundation and president and CEO of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). “The Gies Awards allow us to stop and say thank you to the men and women who push for excellence in these critical areas.

Harold C. Slavkin, DDS, of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California was the winner of the Gies Award for Outstanding Vision by a Dental Educator. He created the school’s Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology in 1989. From 1995 to 2000, he was director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. He also was the dental school dean from 2000 to 2008.

“I can’t think of a more deserving person to be recognized for being a visionary educator,” said Dean Avishai Sadan, DMD, MBA, and G. Donald and Marian James Montgomery professor of dentistry. “In addition to his educational vision, Hal has been at the forefront of numerous other facets of the dental profession, including research and community outreach efforts. I hope in the future he’ll be recognized for them as well.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry took the award for Outstanding Vision by an Academic Dental Institution for its September DEAH DAY in memory of Deah Barakat and his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, students who were shot and killed at their home in February. During the event, more than 350 students participated in community service activities across 20 locations.

“Deah and Yusor were aspiring dentists who were committed to the profession of dentistry and also to their community, spending much of their spare time volunteering,” said Kaushal Gandhi, DDS candidate 2017, and a DEAH DAY co-chair. “The idea of a day of service was the perfect way to pay tribute to their lives and an opportunity for the entire dental school to come together and serve the local Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Community.”

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry was honored twice for its vision and achievement. Along with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System and the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, it won the award for Outstanding Vision by a Public or Private Partner. Also, professor Mark Herzberg, DDS, PhD, was named the recipient of the Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Dental Educator.

The first award recognizes the school’s work to develop dental therapy education. Its students practice as members of oral healthcare teams to provide a single standard of care for patients. Dental therapists are licensed by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, which also provides additional direct oversight of dental therapy education. 

“No other state has yet developed dental therapy education programs,” says Leon Assael, dean of the school of dentistry. “Clearly there will be an increased demand for education of dental therapists. Minnesota has led the way in developing these educational programs, approving them in Minnesota, and seeking and achieving a national accreditation process through the Commission on Dental Accreditation. 

Herzberg established the Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training Program in 2001, which forms cross-disciplinary teams of trainees and mentors from neuroscience, microbiology, genetics, immunology, engineering, psychology, dentistry, and medicine. Since then, the program has established a track record of National Institutes of Health awards, published papers, and appointments to academia and corporate research environments. 

“Mark Herzberg is a man of intense intellectual courage and an insatiable passion for science, creativity, and innovation, which he so willingly shares with others,” said Assael. “He has, in so many ways, helped to set the standard for scientific inquiry and training.”

Additionally, the Children’s Dental Health Project won the award for Outstanding Achievement by a Public or Private Partner. The University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine won the award for Outstanding Achievement by an Academic Dental Institution.

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics and Delta Dental of Iowa won for Outstanding Innovation by a Public or Private Partner. And, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine Department of Prosthodontics won for Outstanding Innovation by an Academic Dental Institution.

A panel of judges consisting of the ADEAGies Foundation Board of Trustees selected the honorees. Sponsored by the Procter & Gamble Company, the awards will be presented on March 14 at the 2016 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition in Denver, Colo.

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