Fall 2014

A Rewarding Partnership

110420_5332_thomas021.JPGGreetings! One of the most transformative experiences in my career occurred during my pediatric dentistry residency training, when we were assigned rotations at a center for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). That taught me many things, including an understanding of the access-to-care issues that I/DD patients face and the need for specialized care and treatment approaches for this population. Most important, it introduced me to a wonderful group of health-care professionals who provide the care and attention these patients need.

We are most fortunate in Massachusetts to have a long-standing partnership between Tufts School of Dental Medicine and the state departments of public health and developmental services to provide care to this population. This affords us a unique opportunity to introduce all our students to the special needs of I/DD patients. And, through faculty-directed research programs examining outcomes data, it allows us to develop new approaches for these patients’ care.

Over the past year, with a team of Tufts faculty and staff, I have had the opportunity to visit all of our Tufts Dental Facilities clinics and meet the women and men who care so deeply for this historically underserved population. We are indeed fortunate to work alongside these colleagues. I trust that you will enjoy our cover story on the TDF clinics.

Another poignant story in this issue describes the childhood of one of our alumni, whose mother suffered from schizophrenia. Yet another article presages the potential benefits, and challenges, of stem cell therapy and how this technology could help us address many of the diseases for which there is currently no cure. As usual, the magazine details many of the wonderful news items about our school and showcases two annual events, alumni weekend and graduation.

Our new class of students is on board and settled in, giving our faculty and staff a renewed purpose. For the third year in a row, we have a majority of women in the class, a trend that seems to reflect across the nation and one that will surely change the face of our profession in the years ahead. And no story better defines the quality and character of our students than that of the recent class gifts that have celebrated the courage and determination of two of them.

I am also excited to report that our new graduate program in oral medicine has been approved for provisional accreditation by the Council on Dental Accreditation (CODA). It will focus on the broader aspects of overall health and the connection between the mouth and the body. In February, we will welcome to the school a group of visitors representing the CODA, who will review our programs and facilities. This site visit is one in which all dental schools participate every seven years. I am most grateful to the faculty, staff and students who have helped prepare us for this review, and I look forward to sharing their report with you in a future issue of the magazine. As always, I welcome your comments by phone (617.636.6636) or email: huw.thomas@tufts.edu.

Huw F. Thomas, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Dean and Professor of Pediatric Dentistry

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