“Those graduating tonight are achieving a major milestone in their lives and their careers,” said EIOH Director Dr. Eli Eliav as he began the ceremony to a standing-room only auditorium. “Some will enter the world of research, and some will join practices or set up their own. Or, some will pursue academic careers, which I encourage you to do because it is a very fulfilling career.”
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. William Calnon, an Eastman GPR alumnus and longstanding leader in the profession. He is president of the Eastman Dental Foundation Board and American Dental Association Foundation, and has served previously as president of the American Dental Association, NYS Dental Association, and the Monroe County and Seventh District Dental Societies, among many other local, national and international key positions.
“We all enjoy working with him because he is passionate about Eastman, and our mission of excellence in education, research and patient care,” said Dr. Eliav about Dr. Calnon. “His decades of leadership have provided him with a keen ability to build bridges between people and organizations, and work toward long term, sustainable solutions.”
Dr. Calnon asked the audience to imagine that George Eastman, who founded Eastman Dental 100 years ago, had been able to observe the evolution of the dispensary, and was available to answer a few questions.
Dr. Calnon shared that George Eastman expressed confusion as to why dental disease was still so prevalent so many years later, despite major advancements in technology and knowledge. Dr. Calnon challenged the graduates to address that issue.
“You must use your leadership skills you have acquired and sharpened at Eastman Institute to address the many reasons why a virtually preventable process is still as prevalent as it is,” he said. “These issues include dental literacy, ability to access care, understanding of the need for care, utilization of available care, and ability to navigate health care systems.”
And, economic and cultural issues only makes the problem worse, he added, so Dr. Calnon encouraged the graduates to get –and stay involved.
“We as professionals need to have a say in how these matters are handled,” he said. “Position yourselves to influence outcomes. Always try to make a difference – for yourselves and the public at large.”
Dr. Calnon asked Mr. Eastman if he had any advice for the graduates. Mr. Eastman emphasized that they are a product of many years of history. Their future has been shaped by leaders in dentistry, and by those who invested in the mission of the original dispensary, and who gave back to the institution that had contributed to their personal and professional success.
“You have become part of a family with a rich heritage and a very bright future,” he said. “Membership in the family comes with certain responsibilities. Stay current and engaged – the family is stronger with you and you are stronger because of the family. Look for ways to mentor and invest in those around you. The world will be a better place when you do.”
Before the trainees received their certificates, many awards were given to deserving faculty, staff and residents.
The Director’s Award was presented to Dr. Eugene Surasky, a part-time faculty member in General Dentistry for 30 years. The award recognizes his excellence in clinical education, and for outstanding achievements in service and education.
“When you combine a wonderful sense of humor, compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, the willingness to help others and give their personal time, with excellent dental skills and diagnostic ability, you get Dr. Eugene Surasky,” Dr. Eliav said.
Previously, Dr. Surasky was the recipient of the Part-Time Clinical Teaching Award in 1993 and 2004, and the General Dentistry Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award in 2006.
“When I first heard about the director’s award I thought they had the wrong person, I never made a movie,” Dr. Surasky quipped. “But now that I understand, I am very humbled and appreciative. Being a teacher is a passion – you really do learn more than you teach. I can now swear in 14 languages. Thank you so much.”
Dr. Leonard Fishman, who has been helping residents for some 55 years, was awarded the Bejan Iranpour Award, for making a huge impact supervising clinical treatment as well as numerous research projects which have impacted the discipline of orthodontics.
“Through the years, Len mentored generations of orthodontists, sometimes the parent and years later their daughter or son,” Dr. Eliav added. “I am looking forward to see him teaching one of his resident’s grandchild.”
“This award is so special because I’ve known Bejan Iranpour since 1961 when we were pedo residents together,” recalled Dr. Fishman. “Today we have a very dedicated and talented staff. We’re one big family we act like a team, and it can’t get any better than it is right now.”
Each year, the Dentistry faculty and residents are given the opportunity to nominate part-time faculty who give a great amount of personal time and understanding to those involved in our educational programs. This year’s recipient is Dr. Vladimir Frias
“If we knew that the talented Dr. Frias lived in the region, we would have approached him years ago,” said Dr. Eliav. “But it was one of our lucky days when he approached us with a desire to teach part time.”
The residents love his teaching style and said he is extremely knowledgeable with exceptional patient care skills. He is especially instrumental in enhancing care for patients with complex conditions, improving the education for residents, while partnering with our colleagues at the medical center. Maxillofacial cases can be difficult and psychologically demanding to both the patient and the provider, but Dr. Frias always finds a positive way to talk to the patients with enthusiasm while being realistic and showing great compassion.
The Shaffer-Devries Award for Excellence in Administrative Operations or Clinical Service was awarded to Tequila Wright, who started her career at Eastman more than 13 years ago as a dental assistant, was promoted to Lead Dental Assistant and has been the Practice Manager for School 17 and the SMILEmobiles for the last 4 years.
Her dedication and enthusiasm to our mission and serving most vulnerable people in our community is unwavering. Her many contributions have been significant and our patients are better off because of them.
Basil G. Bibby Fellowship Award
Basil Bibby who served as the second director of the Eastman dispensary between 1947 and 1967 strove to lead and help early investigators into productive and meaningful careers.
He encouraged young people to think and to participate in research with the realization that research caused one to focus attention and foster thinking. Dr. Grace Xuelian Huang and Dr. Linda Wang were chosen for this award.
New York State Dental Foundation Dean’s Award
Dr. Sari Alzoubi was given this award for demonstrating outstanding academic achievement and their commitment to enhancing and improving the oral health of underserved populations.
Stanley L. Handelman Fellowship Award
Training future leaders in dentistry is at the core of the Eastman mission. Dr. Stan Handelman, widely known as the Father of Postdoctoral General Dentistry, established a Fellowship fund to provide support to students and residents interested in pursuing a dental academic career. To date, more than 100 Eastman alumni, faculty and friends have contributed to the fund.
This award is not given out each year, but only when an exemplary resident or student, such as this year’s awardee Dr. Maria Gabriela Carranza, has been identified as truly embracing the spirit of the Handelman fund.
Another Handelman Award recognized Drs. Sari Alzoubi and Abner O Delos Santos for their performance during the program of going beyond the expectations and demonstrating excellent skills in leadership, ethics, initiative, and communications, as well as showing an interest in enhancing other residents’ experience at EIOH.
Jack G. Caton Graduate Fellowship Award
This award, given to Dr. Alexandra Tsigarida, is designed to encourage and support dentists who are pursuing an academic career in periodontics. The Caton Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Alexandra Tsigarida, an assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics, in recognition of her commitment to academic periodontology.
“I feel very happy that I’m in this institution,” said Dr. Tsigarida, EIOH Periodontics assistant professor. “I’ve always felt very welcome and very supported by all the faculty and the institution. I will continue to strive for excellence for the residents, our department, and the institution.”
Award for Scholarly Excellence
Drs. Fawad Javed and Sergio Varela Kellesarian received the Award of Scholarly Excellence for their contributions to dental research in peer-reviewed publications during their two and a half years of training. Dr. Javed published 68 studies in medical and dental journals, and Dr. Varela Kellesarian published 41 studies. Each received national and international media attention for some of their work. This award was given for the first time to graduating AEGD residents.
American Association for Dental Research – Rochester Section
Each spring, a special event highlights research projects completed throughout the year. Out of 80 poster presentations, a team of judges selected seven to receive scientific merit awards.
Basil G. Bibby Award
Outstanding scientific merit among presentations by non-degree candidates.
Dr. Shannon Fitzpatrick, Pediatric resident
Dr. Edith Gonzalez Jaimes, AEGD resident
Dr. Samuel Obamiyi, TMJD resident.
Michael G. Buonocore Award
Outstanding scientific merit among oral and poster presentations by degree candidates.
Dr. Cuc (Daisy) Ngo, Orthodontic Resident
Dr. Linda Wang Perio Resident
Gerald N. Graser Award
Outstanding clinical case series and/or case reports that describe original, innovative and/or evidence based clinical treatments.
Dr. Adriana Parra Barillas, AEGD resident.
Outstanding scientific merit among poster presentations by candidates in postdoctoral programs.
Dr. Heng Lin, Center for Oral Biology