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Students explore research careers at ADAF Colgate Dental Students' Conference on Research

December 09, 2015

By David Burger

Conference: Forty-two students from across the U.S. and Canada attended the Colgate Dental Students' Conference on Research in late October.
Gaithersburg, Md. — The ADA Foundation Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center hosted 42 dental students Oct. 25-27, 2015 for the 51st annual Colgate Dental Students' Conference on Research to shine a spotlight on dental research careers.

The conference introduces dental students from the U.S. and Canada to industry and academic professionals as well as scientists from the VRC, the ADA and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to raise their awareness of the careers available in oral health research.

Students attended guest lectures from scientists, toured research centers on the National Institutes of Health campus and participated in poster presentations and discussions of their own research.

"The conference attendees were all very engaged in all aspects of the program, especially in their poster presentations," said Gretchen E. Duppins, editorial and administrative services coordinator at the Volpe Research Center. "In the first morning session they asked really good, thoughtful questions of our speakers. They wanted to get to know each other and stay in touch afterwards. They consistently expressed their appreciation to the staff for organizing the program.  The overall vibe was quite positive and left a good impression of the ADA Foundation and the ADA."

Glennis Katzmark, a third-year student at the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, shared her research group's studies on mutations in genes that can lead to the production of permanently activated Ras proteins, which could then lead to oral cancer. She enjoyed the conference's tours of the research campuses, and said it was beneficial to meet other like-minded students interested in research. "It was really conducive to networking," she said.

Tour: Dr. Jeffrey Kim, VRC project leader and clinician — and a former Dental Students' Conference on Research attendee from 2006 — demos his self-made e-cigarette machine while attendees Charles Taylor (A.T. Still University), Kyle Kirk (University of Kentucky) and Jamieson Brady (University of Buffalo) look on.
Spencer Blackham, a third-year student at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Dental Medicine, shared his research group's (with three professors) studies on bone filling materials. He intends to embark on career in orthodontics, but said that "research never really stops."

Blackham continued: "It was a fantastic conference. It was much more personal than other conferences. We were able to connect really well with the students and scientists."

Among the conference speakers who addressed the students were: Dr. Marcelo Araujo, Ph.D., vice president of the ADA Science Institute; Michael J. Fasolka, Ph.D., deputy director of the Material Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Dr. Christopher H. Fox, executive director of the American Association for Dental Research and International Association for Dental Research; Dr. Mark Heiss, director of regulatory affairs and professional relations/public affairs at GC America; Dr. Thomas Hart, Ph.D., director of the Volpe Research Center; Phyllis Martina, senior academic relations manager, Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Mark Reynolds, Ph.D., dean of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry; and Gene Wurth, executive director of the ADA Foundation.

Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin, ADA executive director, and Dr. Leo Rouse, former dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry, delivered the keynote addresses on the first and second evenings, respectively.

All U.S. and Canadian dental school deans receive information on the Colgate DSCR from the ADA Foundation in late March or early April, including full requirements and nomination procedures. Selected student nominees should be first-time conference participants and have a demonstrated interest and ability in research. Except for a $500 fee paid by the university to defray a portion of the conference-related costs, the Foundation funds the student trips.

For more information on the conference, go to and search for Colgate Dental Students' Conference on Research.