OHSU

From the Dean

State of the School

Phil MaruchaDear School of Dentistry community,

What a huge year of transition for the dental school with a new facility! Despite the many changes that come with a move to a new “home,” I am pleased to report that there have also been a number of accomplishments this year, particularly in the areas of technology, faculty, research, curriculum, and leadership.

I still can’t believe we started moving June 26, and that our clinics were functional within two weeks, on July 7. The move was ahead of schedule, and we were well-prepared, in large part due to our amazing staff, faculty, and university partners in Facilities and Logistics who went above and beyond the call of duty in organizing our telephones, mail, keys, copiers, parking, and the physical move, always with a smile on their face. Now, we are fine-tuning our operations to fit the new building — such as centralization of sterilization, bigger simulation labs, a new D.M.D./Ph.D. program, and state-of-the art technologies  — and we are making good progress.

New technologies include CAD/CAM (a recent gift from Sirona Dental), a cone beam scanner (gifted from Carestream Dental), dedicated endodontology microscopes, and electrical hand pieces (from A-dec and partner/affiliate W&H). This kind of technology will not only teach students to be great contemporary dentists, but provide them with the information they need to be dentists of the future.

To increase student opportunities in research and mentorship on the pre-doctoral clinic floor, the school has been steadily rebuilding its faculty ranks. To that end, more than a dozen new faculty have recently joined the school at .5 FTE or more, with additional faculty in the works.

Research funding is also on the upswing, despite the tough climate in which to gain grants. Two years ago, it was looking grim for dental school research, and we were on a downward trajectory. But we have made a remarkable comeback, with a number of new grants, labs funded, and increased applications going out the door. This is a real achievement, given the limited dollars out there available for research programs.

Another way we’ve been building and maintaining the school’s research community has been through the Dean’s Seminar Series, which kicked off this fall for its second academic year. The dental and university communities are more than welcome at these lectures; please stay tuned to the web (www.ohsu.edu/sod) for upcoming seminar dates in our new facility. 

Helpful to the dental school mission is that our faculty are very active within the university, such as the Interprofessional Initiative, which trains dental students to collaborate with the medical, pharmaceutical, nursing, and other health professionals they will encounter in providing comprehensive oral care.

The dental school is also at the table for the university’s Rural Health Initiative, which aims to improve access to care in Oregon’s rural counties. With 96,000 square miles of land in Oregon, but most people living along the I-5 corridor, there are a lot of people in the state with little access to dental care and three counties don’t have a dentist at all. We have to get new health graduates to go out and function in those areas, with the cultural skills needed to work and live in those communities. To that end, OHSU is planning for rural campuses to be located in remote portions of Oregon where people have little access to dental care, likely Klamath Falls, Coos Bay, and either Hermiston or Baker City. The idea is that all dental students will spend time at one of these three interprofessional practice sites, collaborating with their fellow OHSU students and caring for the underserved, with the goal for them to consider working and living in those communities after graduation. We already have legislative support with the Rural Health Initiative in the form of student tuition, with three dental students receiving full tuition support this academic year in return for work in rural communities upon graduation.

Warm regards,

Phil Marucha Signature

Phillip T. Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D.
OHSU School of Dentistry Dean
(503) 494-8801
marucha@ohsu.edu