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Dr. Stanford receives UIC Distinguished Professor title

January 20, 2015

By Kimber Solana

 Dr. Stanford
Distinguished gentleman: Dr. Clark M. Stanford poses at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. He is the new dean of the dental school and an accomplished researcher.

In about 14 years, the University of Illinois at Chicago has handed out the prestigious honor of Distinguished Professor to 43 faculty members. None of those recipients were from the College of Dentistry — until now.

Dr. Clark M. Stanford, the new dean at UIC’s dental school and an accomplished researcher, became the 44th person to receive the honor.

“It’s such a special distinction,” said Dr. Stanford. “I was surprised that no other dentists has received this. For that, I’m honored to receive it.”

In brief, the UIC Distinguished Professorship was created to recruit and recognize some of the most distinguished scholars in the world who have made a significant impact upon their field through scholarship, creativity and leadership. This includes UIC faculty members who have reached the highest level of attainment in their fields.

Based on that definition, it’s not hard to see why Dr. Stanford received the prestigious honor. He’s been immersed in research and academics most of his life.

“I knew I wanted to go into health care or engineering. If you look at my family history, it doesn’t come a surprise that I’m in this great profession,” said Dr. Stanford, whose father is the namesake of the John W. Stanford New Investigator Award established by the ADA Standards Program to honor new dentists working on original research in the realm of dental standards.

Dr. Stanford has gone from working off and on in the research labs at ADA Headquarters, while working on his bachelor’s in zoology and a dental degree from 1979-87 at the University of Iowa, to becoming the 17th dean of what he says is “one of the top dental institutions in the country.”

“I remember working at the ADA library in 1978,” he said.

Although he grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Dr. Stanford spent about 35 years in Iowa. After getting his D.D.S. degree in 1987, he received a Certificate in Prosthodontics and a Ph.D. in cell biology in 1992 from the University of Iowa.

He stayed at his alma mater as an assistant professor for the College of Dentistry Dows Institute for Dental Research and Department of Prosthodontics and became the Centennial Fund Professor in 2000. By 2008, he became the associate dean for research at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. He also managed the Office for Clinical Research and the outpatient Craniofacial Clinical Research Center in Iowa.

An accomplished researcher whose work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, private foundations and industry, Dr. Stanford focuses his laboratory studies on osteoblastic gene expression and signaling pathways.

Before his hire as UIC College of Dentistry dean in October 2014, he authored 18 book chapters, 111 published papers and more than 140 research abstracts.

“Clark Stanford is a star hire,” said Lon Kaufman, UIC assistant vice president for corporate and community relations. “His illustrious career as a clinician-scientist and faculty administrator has prepared him perfectly to lead one of the best colleges of dentistry in the country. I am very excited about the potential he brings to UIC.”

Dr. Stanford said, as dean, his primary mission is to train and educate the future workforce of the state of Illinois. He is also a professor at the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois College of Engineering.

“I’ve hit the ground running,” he said. “I’m trying to get a lot of things done. I’m trying to learn the culture of the college and already getting some initiatives started.”

These initiatives include, he said, looking at a variety of entry points for students who want to explore dentistry and working with other schools, such as the College of Business Administration, to strengthen his school’s curriculum by teaching dental students how to run and manage a complex practice.

“We want to offer a wider array of options for our students,” he said.
Dr. Stanford serves on several national and international committees, including the International Association for Dental Research, the National Institutes of Health, the Academy of Prosthodontics and the Academy of Osseointegration.

He is chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council of the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias. He is a member of the American and International Associations for Dental Research, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the American Dental Association, the American Society for Cell Biology, and the Orthopaedic Research Society. He is a fellow of the Academy of Prosthodontics and the International Team for Oral Implantology.

Today, he can also add UIC Distinguished Professorship to his list of accomplishments.

There is no fixed number of Distinguished Professorship awards made per year.  A review panel of current Distinguished Professors meets at least annually to review nominations.  In Dr. Stanford’s case, Eric A. Gislason, Ph.D., UIC vice chancellor for academic affairs, nominated him for the title and it was the review panel’s judgment that Dr. Stanford receive it.

“The distinguished professor title was meant to recognize our most sophisticated and productive faculty, and Dr. Stanford is certainly a member of that group,” said Dr. Gislason. “He has been exceptionally effective in advancing oral health and the way that science itself is conducted. Equally impressive is the innovative thinking behind those accomplishments; the team building and bridging across disciplines, scientists and clinicians. Dr. Stanford represents the future of health care research.”