School of Dentistry Honors 40 Years of Research Achievements with Feb. 20 Symposium, Other Events

The director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Researchand research leaders at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry will lead an upcoming symposium designed to highlight how past achievements have paved the way for future discovery in oral health research.

“Dental Research at UNC-Chapel Hill: Past, Present and Future” will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 20 at the UNC-Chapel Hill George Watts Hill Alumni Center’s Alumni Hall I. The symposium is part of the dental school’s celebration of its 40 years of oral health research.

The next day, Feb. 21, is Dental Research in Review Day, featuring poster viewing and judging, a keynote presentation on the history of the School and discussions. The Feb. 21 events will take place within the School of Dentistry.

The School community is invited to the Feb. 20 symposium and a reception following the event, as well as the Feb. 21 events.

The Dental Research Center was officially dedicated on Oct. 15, 1967. The dedication address that day – just as the celebration of achievement 40 years later – focused on the past, present and future. Then-Dean James W. Bawden spoke at the 1967 dedication ceremony on “The Present – Today,” according to “From Quonset Hut to Number One and Beyond,” a history of the School by Drs. Kermit Knudtzon and Clifton Crandell.

Bawden, now retired from the School, will give the Dental Research in Review keynote address on Feb. 21, reflecting on the history of research at the dental school.

During the construction of the Dental Research Center, the National Institute of Dental Research (now the NIDCR) named UNC-Chapel Hill one of five regional centers focusing on using scientific research to advance dental health nationally.

More recently, fiscal 2006 funding numbers place the dental school at third among dental institutions nationwide in NIDCR grant funding. The NIDCR is a component of the National Institutes of Health.

“Dental research has a long history at Carolina, actually dating back to the early 1950s,” said Dr. John N. Williams, Dean of the School of Dentistry. “From its beginning, this research has focused on outcomes that will improve the lives of people throughout North Carolina and beyond.

“This is a remarkable time for dental research nationwide, with emphasis on pain management, overall general health and genomics. Distinguished researchers within our school will share the promise of this science at the symposium. We are honored to welcome Dr. [Lawrence] Tabak to the campus, as the NIDCR has played such a critical role in the strength of dental research at this school and within universities nationwide.”

The lineup for the Feb. 20 symposium features the following presentations from School of Dentistry researchers:

  • 2 p.m.-2:15 p.m.: Opening remarks from Dean John N. Williams and Dr. Patrick Flood, Associate Dean for Research;
  • 2:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m.: “Follow the North Carolina LIGHTD: Leading to Improved General Health Through Dentistry,” presented by Dr. Steven Offenbacher, OraPharma Distinguished Professor of Periodontal Medicine;
  • 2:45 p.m.-3:15 p.m.: “Genomics and Your Patient’s Oral Health,” presented by Dr. Tim Wright, Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry;
  • 3:30 p.m.-4 p.m.: “Orthodontics: Past, Present and Future,” presented by Dr. William Proffit, Distinguished Professor of Orthodontics; and
  • 4 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: “Temporomandibular Joint and Associated Disorders: Current Concepts and Future Directions,” presented by Dr. William Maixner, Professor of Endodontics and Director of the School of Dentistry-based Center for Neurosensory Disorders.

Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, Director of the NIDCR, will conclude the symposium with a 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. talk on “Facing the Future.”

For more information, contact Deb Saine at (919) 966-2731 or