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Dental School Streamlines into 5 Units

Aliciaby Alicia Di Rado

Trying to track down a USC School of Dentistry researcher to collaborate on a grant? Or maybe consult an oral-health expert with a question? The dental school’s landscape has changed.

Starting July 1, the USC School of Dentistry has reorganized into five new divisions to streamline and enhance organizational functions and structure, said Harold Slavkin, dean of dentistry.

The reorganization reflects four new initiatives at the school: embracing problem-based learning; expanding research into a variety of areas such as oral infection and immunity and antimicrobial therapeutics; increasing efforts to improve the community’s oral health; and infusing leadership skills and tools into health education.

As part of this effort, dental faculty will work in tandem with a variety of health professionals, including those in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, nursing and physical therapy.

The five new divisions include:

Health promotion, disease prevention and epidemiology – led by Nan Mulligan, professor of dentistry – aims to counter growing oral-health disparities by stressing behavioral intervention, social services, education, nutrition and an interdisciplinary approach to oral health- care access.

Diagnostic sciences – chaired by Mavash Navazesh, associate professor of dentistry. Since the mouth can reflect systemic disease, and is easily accessible, it has great potential for diagnostics. Division members will collaborate with researchers in psychology, pediatrics and physical, internal and geriatric medicine, among other health fields.

Surgical, therapeutic and bioengineering sciences – chaired by Ilan Rotstein, associate professor of dentistry. Faculty will work with researchers from other health fields to advance cell and tissue engineering, develop new surgical procedures, drugs and biomaterials, and use imaging to enhance surgeries and other treatment techniques.

Primary oral health care – piloted by co-chairs Mike Mulvehill, professor of clinical dentistry, and Casey Chen, associate professor of dentistry, this division focuses on the role of the dentist as a primary oral-health counselor to individuals, families and communities.

Interdisciplinary Craniofacial Health Care – chaired by Peter Sinclair, professor of dentistry – stresses interdisciplinary diagnosis and treatment for craniofacial problems. Areas include periodontic, orthodontic, implant, orthognathic and restorative maxillofacial care.