The University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Dental Medicine has named Sharon M. Gordon, DDS, MPH, PhD, its next dean, effective August 31. She will be the first woman to serve as dean of the dental school in its more than 50-year history. Currently, Gordon is associate dean for innovation and discovery and professor and chair of the Department of Foundational Sciences at East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine.
“I’m honored to be selected to lead the UConn School of Dental Medicine at this juncture of its history,” said Gordon. “Its strong research programs, model curriculum, and reputation for excellence in clinical education set the stage for building on its trajectory of success. I’m looking forward to engaging in active dialogue with faculty, staff, students, university colleagues, and alumni to determine priorities for development.”
As the inaugural research dean at the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, Gordon has focused on building research capacity, designing the research laboratories for the dental school, and doubling extramural research funding over a five-year period. In her previous work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Maryland, she was noted for creating an innovative dental curriculum and for research training and career development, with an emphasis on clinicians.
“I consider myself a curious clinician, conducting research to improve patient care,” Gordon said.
Gordon has been continuously funded for her research since departing the NIH and has taken part in multiple clinical trials that have led to FDA-approved dental therapeutics for pain control. Her interests center on improving pain management through improved analgesia and anesthesia as well as accelerating oral wound healing, particularly following tissue injury or mucosal perturbations due to cancer therapy.
Furthermore, UConn notes that Gordon is passionate about engaging dental students in research, serving as a faculty mentor and advisor, as a National Faculty Advisor for the National Student Research Group of the American Association of Dental Research, and with the Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and Its Application.
“Dr. Gordon’s joining the School of Dental Medicine is an exciting opportunity for the school and the university,” said Craig H. Kennedy, UConn provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Her background in extramurally funded research will help advance, in tandem, the clinical and research missions of the school.”
Gordon holds a DDS from the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School at San Antonio and completed dental residency training at San Antonio’s Medical Center Hospital, with additional residency training and fellowships at the National Institute of Dental Research. She also holds a master of public health degree in epidemiology and a PhD in clinical investigation from Johns Hopkins University.