Dr. Eliav to Graduates: Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture

Jul. 5, 2022
Dr. Eliav at the podium
EIOH Director Dr. Eli Eliav spoke to 500 people during the EIOH Convocation.

“No one ever remembers anything from a graduation speech,” quipped Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD, as he began his remarks at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health graduation ceremony.

“But if you can remember just one thing,” the EIOH director told the 77 graduates from 21 different countries, “always try to see the big picture through the immediate challenges.”

Dr. Eliav talked about how the many obstacles the pandemic created, the local and global divisiveness, and how all the violence contribute to the hectic and stressful times we’re experiencing. Add to that the many challenges the profession is facing right now, like the shortages of dental assistants, hygienists, dentists and dental faculty in certain areas.

audience members holding up O F P balloons
Family show their support of the Orofacial Pain Residency Program graduates.

He shared one of his favorite quotes, credited to both Lao Tzu and Confucius: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

“When we are faced with major problems, we must find long term, sustainable solutions,” he said before explaining how EIOH has addressed some of these major issues. “It’s key to stay focused on the big picture while you’re dealing with the daily struggles and putting out the fires.”

A Pediatric Dentistry resident poses with the department chair and program director.
77 people from 21 different countries graduated from the various residency and master's programs at EIOH.

To address the dental assistant shortage problem, Dr. Eliav shared how EIOH developed its own training program and credited the graduates for their role in helping make it a success. EIOH was the only Institute awarded a multi-million-dollar federal grant to develop a unique faculty training program. EIOH has increased its partnerships and collaborations with universities around the world to help students and residents become the next generation of leaders. In addition to its sister Institutions in Paris, Rome, London, and Sweden, EIOH now has formal partnerships with Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, and with universities in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel, India, Argentina, Poland and China.

Several EIOH graduates posing with their certificates and degrees
A few of the 77 EIOH graduates

“And thanks to you and our 2,000 alumni worldwide, our global influence continues to expand even more,” he added. “It’s part of what I appreciate the most about Eastman Institute—how faculty, students and staff from all over the world share ideas, solve problems and work toward common goals. We enjoy and respect each other’s cultural traditions, native foods, and language.”

Dr. Eliav then shared a personal story about how taking small steps—individually and organizationally—can help make a big difference impacting the big picture challenges.

“When I was in Rutgers, I worked in a chronic pain clinic and there was a woman who came there with neuropathic pain in her face,” he said. “She didn’t want to tell us why she had this pain. The radiographs showed an old healed injury in her mandible.

“Eventually, after building trust with her, she told us what happened. She was in the riots of 1967, and sadly, she had been shot,” he explained. “Because of the lack of trust and racial division, she didn’t want to share her story with us, she just wanted some help with her pain “When we take small steps together, we will help others, break barriers and make this world a better place.”

He strongly encouraged the graduates to get involved in academics, professional associations, research and volunteer work.  “Be a part of our exciting future,” he said. “Our profession needs your fresh thinking, your unique perspectives and your strong leadership to address these critical issues. I know you will all make the world a better place and make us proud.”


"An Eastman education allows you to choose, rather than be chosen." -- Dr. Carlo Ercoli, chair, Prosthodontics

Before the trainees received their certificates, many awards were given to deserving faculty, staff and residents.

Bejan Iranpour Award for Excellence in Clinical Education

Dr. Chochlidakis receiving the award from Dr. Eliav
Dr. Konstantinos Chochlidakis

Dr. Bejan Iranpour was considered a giant in the field and served as chair of our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department. He published extensively, was loved and highly respected by residents for his ethics, mentorship and dedication to education.

Dr. Konstantinos Chochlidakis, Associate Professor and Program Director for Prosthodontics.
Dr. Chochlidakis (Prostho ’13) is a great mentor with a true passion for teaching. His high standards bring out the best in each of his residents. He is enthusiastic, dedicated and hardworking. He is successful at managing multiple priorities including remarkable research projects in the field of prosthodontics. His research is published in prestigious journals and directly translates to clinical care. He encourages residents to try new techniques while integrating traditional methods with patients.  He also meets with residents early in the morning or after clinic to go over treatment plans, answer questions and assist them in the lab.

Dr. Ghanem receiving award from Dr. Eliav
Dr. Alexis Ghanem

“I’m very proud and honored to receive this prestigious award,” Dr. Chochlidakis said. “I’m humbled and motivated to work even harder in this prestigious Institute. I’d like to thank Dr. Carlo Ercoli, who has been a great mentor for me, and stress the importance of good mentors to help junior faculty grow as leaders and strive for excellence.”

Dr. Alexis Ghanem, (GenDen ’13, GPR ’14) Associate Professor and Clinic Director for General Dentistry.
A gifted teacher and skilled clinician, Dr. Ghanem is an invaluable asset to the AEGD program. Residents and faculty recognize and appreciate his knowledge and skill in oral surgery, as well as his patience with the residents’ many questions. Dr. Ghanem is a wonderful mentor who demonstrates high ethical values and is respected by all.  He is consistently encouraging and engaging residents individually and as a group and is consistently encouraging and engaging residents as a group and individually. His enthusiasm for teaching is evident and contagious.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, because Dr. Iranpour was a symbol of respect, ethics, academia and quality care,” he said at the ceremony. “I have guided you and told you how important it is to always be an ambassador of this great institution.”  In his quest to be Ever Better (Meliora), he shared a quote by Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most important powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” 

Dr. Kotsailidi and Dr. Caton on stage
Dr. Elli Anna Kotsailidi with Dr. Jack Caton

Jack G. Caton Graduate Fellowship Award is given to encourage young faculty to stay in academics through recognition and a cash award.  Dr. Elli Anna Kotsailidi (Perio ’19, MS ‘20). EIOH assistant professor, is the 2022 recipient. 

Dr. Malmstrom and Dr. Connie Winegar
Dr. Connie Y. Winegar received her award from Dr. Malmstrom

Stanley L. Handelman Fellowship Award recognizes graduating general dentists who demonstrate academic excellence, clinical proficiency and interest in pursuing an academic career. Dr. Connie Yoon Winegar is the 2022 recipient.

Gerald Graser Fellowship in Implant Dentistry was awarded to Dr. Nathan Cain.

The Part Time Faculty Award is given to recognize important contributions like impact on student learning, high quality clinical supervision and research mentorship.

Dr. David Anderson portrait
Dr. David Anderson

Since 2007, Dr. David Anderson has served as part time faculty in our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program. His commitment to residents’ education is exceptional.  He tailors his teaching and supervision based on each resident’s needs and helps develop their critical thinking skills. He is kind and approachable and ensures every consultation and procedure visit is thoroughly dissected and all teaching points are covered.

Dr. Gallo portrait
Dr. Louis Gallo

Dr. Louis Gallo serves as part time faculty in Orthodontics since 2009. Residents especially love his Practice Management class and his clinical supervision is appreciated because he is organized, disciplined, sets a high standard and has a great sense of humor. Going above and beyond, Dr. Gallo is always willing to help when other colleagues are out.

Shaffer Devries Award
This award is named after Clare Shaffer and Jane Devries for their years of dedication and outstanding service. This award recognizes full time staff members for their significant contributions to Eastman and support of the EIOH mission.

Karen Black with Dr. Eliav and Jane Devries
Karen Black with Dr. Eliav and Jane Devries

Karen Black, Public Relations Director, has always worked as a one-person department to help increase awareness about EIOH training programs, complex patient cases, research and community service locally, nationally and internationally. She manages all the EIOH social media content, manages the website. Her skills helped yield features about EIOH and faculty quoted in local TV, the New York Times, WebMD, USAToday, Prevention, Dentistry Today, and many other publications. In addition, she is editor and writer of Momentum, and assumes leadership roles with EIOH events and special projects.

Holly Soscia with Dr. Eliav and Jane Devries
Holly Soscia with Dr. Eliav and Jane Devries

Holly Soscia, University Dental Faculty Group Operations Administrator and Privacy Officer, most recently served as the administrator for Periodontics and Prosthodontics. There, she greatly improved the operational efficiency and organization of these departments. Holly has excellent communication skills, manages her many responsibilities well and always remains positive with patients, staff, residents and faculty. She is a great asset to EIOH and was especially helpful during the pandemic. She is supportive and available to help anyone at any time.