James Beck, MS, PhD,

Distinguished Professor


  • PhD, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1969
  • MS, Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1967
  • AB, Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1964


James Beck is a W.R. Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Division of Comprehensive Oral Health at the Adams School of Dentistry and adjunct professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC School of Medicine. He came to Carolina from the University of Iowa, where he was chair of the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry from 1979 until 1985.

While at the UNC-Chapel Hill, Beck also has established a Special Care program that treats geriatric and special care patients, an MS program in Geriatric Dentistry, and a PhD program in Oral Epidemiology.

Beck has served as associate dean for research at UNC-Chapel Hill as well as executive associate dean, is past-president of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, as well as the Behavioral Science and Health Services Research Group and the Geriatric Oral Research Group of the International Association for Dental Research. He also has received a Distinguished Scientist Award by both the International and American Associations for Dental Research.

He has been a member of several NIDCR Special Study Sections, a regular member of the Oral Biology and Medicine Study Section, and numerous advisory groups, including the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Periodontology, the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control.

Research Summary

He has been actively engaged in research for the past forty years. This research activity has resulted in more than 300 journal articles and book chapters, the majority being related to the epidemiology of periodontal diseases and dental caries. Current research activities focus on the relationships between oral and systemic diseases.

Beck has extensive experience with research training grants having been the PI on an Oral Epidemiology PhD training grant for 15 years, a Co-PI on an Oral and systemic disease clinical training grant for 5 years, PI on a training grant in clinical research, and most recently, was the PI on a T90 training grant that included program in basic science, epidemiology, clinical research, and health policy.

Availability to Mentor

Graduate student, undergraduate DDS or DH student and junior faculty member