Eastman Institute for Oral Health celebrated the accomplishments of more than 60 professionals Friday during a ceremony that marks the beginning of a new chapter in their careers.
Each year, dentists from all over the world come to Eastman Institute for Oral Health to begin a challenging one to four years of training in various dental specialty programs. After they cross the stage to accept their certificates of completion, they will return home near and far to begin treating patients with new skills, teach and/or conduct oral biology research.
As a new pediatric dentist, for example, graduates will now bring a thorough understanding of a child’s development and behavior as well as strategies to create a positive dental experience for young patients. Or, as a new oral and maxillofacial surgeon, EIOH graduates will use great precision and skill to reshape and restore as a result of trauma, disease, or birth disorder. People with cancer and other patients with special needs will also benefit from EIOH-trained specialists who have the talent, skill and compassion to treat the many difficult and unique challenges these patients face. Also being honored are those who are finishing the other demanding EIOH programs including prosthodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, orofacial pain/TMJ disorders and two advanced general dentistry programs.
The convocation address was delivered by Dr. Gerald Graser (Prostho ’72, MS ’75), whose unwavering dedication, commitment and leadership to his students, the profession and research field is unprecedented. On the world stage of prosthodontics, he has held nearly all top leadership posts. His influence reaches professionals and patients around the globe and has published and lectured extensively.
Each year, a part-time and full-time faculty member are honored for their outstanding contributions to the program.
Dr. Michael Grassi, an endodontist in private practice, was awarded the Part-time Faculty Award. For 25 years, Dr. Grassi has taught the importance of critical thinking, diagnostic efficiency and effectiveness. He also teaches about ethics, liability, professionalism, public relations, and the activities of the dental society. He always encourages residents to become active in the dental societies where they will eventually settle. His passion for teaching endodontics is obvious to all, and he significantly influences students’ interests, skills and knowledge in this field.
Dr. Lee Pollan was given the Iranpour Award for Excellence in Education, for demonstrating sustained excellence in education. He exemplifies what it means to be an excellent surgeon, brilliant in knowledge, yet very humble, said one of his mentees. He has academic prowess and passion for the profession and the caring attitude and genuine concern for patients’ well-being. Other students shared how Dr. Pollan overwhelmingly influenced them by his steadfast devotion and commitment, his expertise in the classroom, clinic and operating room, as well as his superior work ethic.
EIOH Director Dr. Eli Eliav awarded Dr. Robert Berkowitz a Director’s Award, for dedicating his career to advancing research, excellence in education and clinical care, and for his outstanding achievements. After his 23- year career at Eastman, he has retired from his role as chair of the Pediatric Dentistry Department. His career accomplishments are many, including how he significantly increased access to care for the underserved, and has mentored hundreds of reputable clinicians and academics.
He discovered that saliva-sharing activities, such as sharing utensils, increase a child’s likelihood of getting caries. Thanks to his leadership, the EIOH Pediatric Dentist residents routinely outperform the average in standardized post-residency testing and in pediatric Board scores.
Each year at the EIOH Convocation Ceremony, the New York State Dental Foundation recognizes students with a Dean’s Award. The winner is recommended by faculty and chosen by the dean at each of the five dental academic centers in the state. The 2015 recipients, Dr. Caroline Mayumi Koda Nakamoto Inaba and Dr. Ximena Velasquez-Pierce, have demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement as measured by their outstanding academic performance and their commitment to enhancing and improving the oral health of underserved populations.
The Basil Bibby Fellowship Award was first established to maintain Bibby’s legacy. He strived to lead and help early research investigators into productive and meaningful careers. He advocated for additional education preparation, supporting post-graduate experience and showed how research causes one to focus and think, and how it can benefit many others. Dr. David Fraser and Dr. Neelam Jadeja are the 2015 recipients.
Stanley L. Handelman Fellowship Award is only given when an exemplary resident or student, such as this year’s winner Dr. Alejandro Sanchez-Lara (GenDen ’15), has been identified as truly embracing the spirit of which it was established. Dr. Handelman, widely known as the Father of Postdoctoral General Dentistry, developed the fund to provide exceptional students and residents in pursuing a dental academic career.
The Rochester Section of the American Association for Dental Research each year holds a day-long special event to highlight research projects completed throughout the year. Four candidates were chosen to receive scientific merit awards. They include:
Dr. Cindy Dodo, a PhD student who is a visiting researcher, was given The Michael G. Buonocore award, for outstanding scientific merit among oral and poster presentations by degree candidates. Her presentation was titled “Titanium Particles Affect Early Stages of Osseointegration.”
The Basil G. Bibby Award, given for outstanding scientific merit among presentations by non-degree candidates was given to Dr. Namie Kong (Pedo ’15), for her paper “Dental Treatment Completion: Mobile vs. Fixed-Site Clinics.”
A new award was established this year to recognize outstanding clinical case series and/or case reports that describe original, innovative and/or evidence based clinical treatments. The award, named after Dr. Gerald Graser, former chair and program director of the EIOH Prosthodontics program, was given to two prosthodontist residents, Drs. Erna Einarsdottir (Prostho ’15) and Jamie Yum (Prostho ’17) for their paper, “Importance of Caries-Risk Assessment in the Prosthodontic Treatment Planning.”