Effective July 2, 2018, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s Department of Prosthodontics and Department of Operative Dentistry formally merged to become the school’s Department of Restorative Sciences. This collaborative department will bolster interdisciplinary research, expand academic programs and improve faculty workloads.
“This convergence of disciplines will provide the greatest impact in teaching, research and service,” explained Dean Scott S. De Rossi, DMD, MBA. “This change was proposed in November 2017 and, after much discussion with impacted faculty and staff, as well as the school’s Faculty Senate, the consolidation was approved with a large majority. That is to say that our school community believes this departmental restructure positions us to lead the way in prosthodontics, general dentistry, biomaterials and operative dentistry in new, exciting ways. We were glad the UNC-CH Board of Trustees approved this change, and are looking forward to the positive impact it will have on our school.
The Department of Restorative Sciences sets the UNC-CH School of Dentistry apart from other institutions and gives the departments an advantage in collaboration and capability. The new, integrated department will be able to take advantage of increased resources and streamlined functions, allowing for heightened efficiency, strengthened programs and more.
Besides giving comprehensive dentistry a home, the consolidation also offers the opportunity for a unified front in seeking support for a digital dentistry center for the entire restorative effort. The department will better be able to recruit top residents and faculty through a broader approach to outreach and an expanded image.
There will be no changes to residency programs, the Dental Faculty Practice or clinical practice departments. The change retains the value of the departments and their teams as they were before, while adding value as a cooperative unit.
Ryan Cook, DDS, MS, will serve as chair of the Department of Restorative Sciences. The departmental leadership will consist of division directors for prosthodontics, operative dentistry/biomaterials and comprehensive dentistry. Ibrahim Duqum, DDS, MS, Taiseer Sulaiman, DDS, PhD, and Jack King, DDS, will serve in these roles, respectively.
“Dr. Cook is dynamic, visionary and personable. His energetic nature will allow him to navigate this consolidation and succeed in leading the department, and his integrity and compassion will make him a fair and respected chair. The school’s leadership and I agree that he will excel in this role, and we are excited to see him do so,” said De Rossi.
Cook previously served as the program director of the prosthodontics advanced education program and as an associate professor within the department. He is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and received his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry from North Carolina State University.
He completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Southern California. After dental school, he attended the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he received a certificate in prosthodontics, certificate in periodontology and Master of Science degree.
Cook is a diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics and American Board of Periodontology. Before entering academics, he practiced in Laguna Niguel, California. Moving back to North Carolina, he was appointed at East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine as a clinical assistant professor in prosthodontics and Director of General Dentistry at the Community Service Learning Center in Lexington, North Carolina. For the last two years, he has served as an associate professor and graduate prosthodontics program director in the department of prosthodontics. His clinical and research interests include soft tissue management, perio-restorative interface, digital dentistry, contemporary esthetics, guided bone regeneration and full mouth rehabilitation.
“I am honored and excited to serve as chair for the Department of Restorative Sciences at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry,” said Cook. “One of many enduring qualities of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry is the collaboration between faculty, alumni, students, residents and staff. This collaboration changes the face of our profession and creates future leaders. I believe that innovation stems for the collaboration of like minds from different backgrounds. Combining the Departments of Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry affords us the opportunity to grow through our collaboration.”
“The goal is to prepare students for careers in private practice, academics and research that serve our community at the state, national and global levels. The landscape of dental education is changing, and we have an opportunity to create something truly unique.”
There is an active search charged with filling the graduate program director position for the operative dentistry graduate program. Terry Donovan, DDS, is serving as the interim program director. While the search for a prosthodontics graduate program director takes place, Cook and other prosthodontics faculty will teach in the clinics.