Nelson Rhodus, DMD, MPH, director of the division of oral medicine at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, has received several recent accolades recognizing his work in oral medicine and oral cancer.
Within a single week, Rhodus was elected to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, named an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Philippine Dental Association.
Rhodus is renowned for his work in oral medicine, the school said. He wrote a textbook that is used in 43 dental schools around the country. He also developed an oral cancer screening model that is used throughout the Philippines.
Additionally, Rhodus developed a similar screening model particularly for the Somali community in Minnesota. He and his students have provided oral cancer screenings and information at the Minnesota State Fair for six years as well.
Rhodus further travels around the world to educate providers about early oral cancer detection. And, he works with the Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota on training and Education.
“Oral cancer is still very prevalent,” Rhodus said. “It’s the fourth leading type of cancer that causes death in the world,” so its early detection and proper treatment is crucial.
Rhodus’ work in oral cancer detection led to the Certificate of Appreciation from the Philippine Dental Association, thanks to the screening program he created for the country.
“Now they’re doing a lot with that program, and it’s been very successful,” Rhodus said.
The election to the Royal College of Surgeons represents Rhodus’ accomplishments in study and work in oral medicine more generally. Typically reserved for researchers in the United Kingdom, the College extended membership to Rhodus due to his work across specialties and borders.
Formed in 1505, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is the oldest surgical college in the world, with approximately 30,000 members spanning disciplines. It focuses on ensuring the safety of patients and providing the best possible care “by championing the highest standards of surgical and dental practice,” the organization said. Membership is an academic distinction.
As an Academic Fellow in the AAOM, Rhodus joins a select group of oral medicine practitioners “who demonstrate proficiency in the diagnosis and management of oral mucosal diseases, difficult oral/dental diagnoses, orofacial pain, and dental management of medically complex patients,” the AAOM said.
The AAOM granted Rhodus Fellowship status on top of his previous recognition as Diplomate, which is awarded for passing the American Board of Oral Medicine’s certifying examination.
Typically, practitioners and researchers who become Diplomats are not recognized as Academic Fellows. Rhodus’ election to both roles is a testament to his dedication to his field and the impact he has had on oral medicine, the school said.
“The fact that everything we’re doing is being recognized is really rewarding,” Rhodus said. “But really, the biggest reward isn’t the recognition. It’s knowing that what I do is helping diagnose cancer early, so people can survive. That’s the bottom line.”
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