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Dental implant pioneer recognized with Norton M. Ross Award

October 06, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Photo of Dr. Feine
 Dr. Feine
Evidence-based dentistry was still an emerging field when Dr. Jocelyne Feine graduated from the University of Texas dental school.

In 1980, Dr. Feine joined the dental faculty part-time and practiced the rest of the time, treating many people with chronic temporomandibular disorders.  Eager to fully understand and provide the best TMD treatments for her patients, Dr. Feine traveled throughout the U.S taking continuing education courses from experts in the field.

Finding that expert opinion couldn’t explain why she still had some patients who continued to suffer after undergoing conventional treatment methods, Dr. Feine said she “hoped science would have the answers” that she sought, and returned to the University of Texas to obtain a master’s degree in neurophysiology.

It was there that she discovered her love of “playing detective,” diving head first into the research process.

These days, Dr. Feine is an internationally recognized clinical scientist, especially in the field of dental implants.

In July, Dr. Feine was named the 2016 recipient of the ADA Norton M. Ross Award. The ADA has presented the annual award, financially supported by Johnson & Johnson, since 1991 to recognize investigators whose research has significant impact on some aspect of clinical dentistry. 

“From your initial step as a practicing dentist interested in pain-related research to becoming a leading expert in the field of dental implants, your contributions are voluminous,” said Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays, ADA president, in a letter to Dr. Feine announcing the recognition.

“This year’s recipient, Dr. Feine, has been a leading pioneer in evidence-based dental care and in the promotion of the preferences and needs of dental patients,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, global director of oral care and fellow of global scientific engagement at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

Dr. Feine will receive $5,000 and a commemorative plaque during a ceremony at ADA 2016 – America’s Dental Meeting.

“This award is particularly gratifying to me,” said Dr. Feine, “because it is a recognition of my work from the American Dental Association, an organization that I greatly admire for its dedication in leading the momentum to assist dentists in providing evidence-based care to their patients.”

Dental implant research pioneer

Currently a professor at McGill University Faculty of Dentistry in Montreal and the inaugural editor-in-chief of the Journal of Dental Research (JDR) Clinical & Translational Research (an International Association of Dental Research/American Association of Dental Research journal), some recognize Dr. Feine as one of the “world’s leading experts in the field of dental implants,” according to Dr. Paul Allison, Ph.D., dean of the dental school, who nominated Dr. Feine for the award.

Dr. Allison said Dr. Feine is remarkable because she is among the first to take her research projects and approaches “beyond classical epidemiological methods to encompass psychometrics, economic assessments, health technology assessments and mixed methodological approaches,” he said.

Some of her most important research concluded that patients who suffer from chronic conditions, including pain or lack of teeth, are the best judges of palliative therapies and devices designed to improve their function and quality of life, Dr. Allison said.

Dr. Feine’s work has led to changes in education and practice around the world.

Perhaps most notably, her work alerted the dental profession to the fact that a minimal number of mandibular implants could improve the quality of life of many denture wearers.

As a result of the McGill Consensus Statement, dental faculties throughout the United States and worldwide now teach students to provide mandibular overdentures retained by two implants.

Addressing barriers

Dr. Feine is recognized for making the needs of stakeholders a key factor in her research. She is considered among the first researchers to use oral health-related quality of life questionnaires in the assessment of dental prostheses, Dr. Allison said.

In researching the important questions related to the use of dental implants, she pursued a series of rigorous randomized controlled trials, using patient-based outcomes on satisfaction and oral health-related quality of life as primary indicators, while including clinical and other indicators as secondary outcomes, Dr. Allison said.

Dr. Feine has also explored economic models of implant costing that could make them financial available to more people.

In Dr. Summerhays’ congratulatory letter to Dr. Feine, she said, “your innovative approach has advanced the thinking surrounding dental implant research by primarily using patient-based outcomes of satisfaction and quality of life including clinical and other indicators as secondary outcomes as well as adressed barriers in translating research findings from publication to clinical care.”

Published editor

Dr. Summerhays said the reward also recognizes Dr. Feine’s “large body of research published in the highest impact journals in dentistry.”
Dr. Feine’s CV swells with more than 140 peer-reviewed publications, two books, more than a dozen invited papers and book chapters and more than 150 abstracts. She has also been invited to present her research more than 160 times throughout the world. She has been recognized with an IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Prosthodontics in 2005 as well as an IADR Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

Dr. Feine was appointed in August 2015 as the inaugural editor of JDR Clinical & Translational Research. That publication, launched earlier this year, is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to original dental, oral and craniofacial research at the interface between discovery science and clinical application.  In a press release announcing her appointment, American Association of Dental Research president Dr. Paul Krebsbach called Dr. Feine “a highly qualified, internationally recognized and respected scientist and academic leader.”

From a family of dentists

Dr. Feine, who lives in Montreal and speaks fluent French, said she grew up in Pennsylvania and Texas in a family of dentists. Her mother and aunt were general dentists while her uncle was an oral surgeon.

Outside of teaching and research, she enjoys music — especially rock from the 60s and 70s, photography, art and traveling. She has been to Africa and also to India seven times, where she speaks at dental meetings in combination with visits throughout the country, she said.

In reflecting on her work and the Ross award, she told ADA News, “I firmly believe that clinical and translational research should be grounded by the needs of the stakeholders, the patients, practitioners, policy makers, insurers and educators. Research must address the health issues of the community; it is all about public health.”