Dr. Lauren L. Patton, who directs the General Practice Residency Program within the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, has been named interim chair of the School’s Department of Dental Ecology.
Her appointment is effective immediately. A search committee will soon be formed to lead an internal search for a permanent department chair, said Dean John N. Williams.
Dr. Ronald Strauss, former chairman of the department, began work Sept. 1 as the University’s new executive associate provost.
“Dr. Patton is an internationally recognized leader in teaching and research focusing on oral cancer and the oral manifestations of HIV,” said Williams. “She understands the research trends that will have tremendous influence on oral health in the future – both globally and in communities closer to home. I am pleased that she has accepted this interim leadership role.”
Williams added that in the coming months, the School would seriously pursue initiatives to draw upon the department’s historic strengths in community-based oral health and support the School’s general dentistry education. Among the department’s divisions are the UNC Craniofacial Center, hospital dentistry, geriatric and special care dentistry, the Dentistry in Service to Communities Program, oral epidemiology and public health, dental assisting and dental hygiene.
Patton, who received her DDS degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, also is a professor of dental ecology. Her teaching responsibilities are primarily within the General Practice Residency Program, and UNC Hospitals’ dental clinic and operating rooms.
Her research interests include oral manifestations of HIV/AIDS, oral cancer prevention and early detection, management of medically complex patients, clinical trials and evidence-based dentistry.
She has been conducting research in the areas of HIV and oral cancer at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1990.