The School of Dentistry announces the recruitment of two endowed chairs

The University of Alberta, School of Dentistry and the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADA&C) are pleased to announce the recruitment of two endowed chairs.

Cheryl Deslaurier - 17 August 2020

The Oral Health Research and Dentistry Research Endowed Chairs have been established with a generous five-year pledge from the ADA&C and will be held by Dr. Daniel Graf, Associate Professor in the Division of Foundational Sciences and Dr. Maryam Amin, Professor in the Division of Pediatric Dentistry.

The School of Dentistry promotes the importance of research as the foundation of our profession. The generation, translation and utilization of research are essential to advancing our profession and to developing the critical thinking skills needed for long term professional success.

Both basic and clinical research has led to and will continue to lead to improvements in oral health. Further improvement will be the result of continued efforts to acquire new knowledge in the prevention and treatment of oral diseases.

Dentistry research will lead to increased knowledge in the areas of treatment and health care delivery. The impact of this research will contribute to cost containments, improved quality of care as well as an understanding of barriers to access to care.

graf-adac-endow.jpgThe ADA&C Oral Health Research Endowed Chair―Dr. Daniel Graf will leverage his internationally recognized status as an immunologist, developmental biologist, geneticist, and hard tissue specialist, to continue to build world-class research programs at the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry (FoMD). Dr. Graf’s research contributions thus far have contributed to a better understanding of the etiology of developmental malformations of the craniofacial complex. He has established numerous collaborations within the School and Faculty to translate findings from his research to the clinic. He has been recognized by the University and Faculty for his outstanding student mentorship and is a strong contributor to the teaching programs of the School of Dentistry. Through these engagements, he promotes the development of faculty and students in dental research and attracts undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty interested in dental research to the school.

amin-adac-endow.jpgThe ADA&C Dental Research Endowed Chair―Dr. Maryam Amin will lead the development of a world-class dentistry research program at the FoMD with a focus on active engagement of foundational sciences in the clinical dentistry and bridging the gap between bench discoveries and clinical projects through developing innovative dynamic multidisciplinary research teams including basic scientists, clinicians, biostatisticians or epidemiologists and other stakeholders involving the delivery of care and policymaking. This will include identifying the selected areas for research based on the existing infrastructure and interest at the School of Dentistry and developing a road map and strategic plan for interdisciplinary and collaborative research across disciplines within the University and the FoMD.

Both chairs will build collaboration across other disciplines within the University of Alberta as well as with the ADA&C and its stakeholders. Focusing on the creation and, later expansion of their research programs, the chairs will concentrate on research activities that synergize with faculty research priorities and strengths, including attracting, developing, mentoring, and retaining undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty. The endowed chairs will act as a catalyst to drive oral health research and dentistry research within the profession of dentistry and the province of Alberta.

The establishment of the research endowed chairs is one of the ways the School of Dentistry is able to achieve and further its academic mission, develop new research initiatives and opportunities for the achievement of excellence internationally and nationwide.

About Dr. Daniel Graf

Daniel Graf graduated in Biological Sciences from the Swiss Federal School of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland. His PhD and post-doctoral studies at the Robert Koch-Institute, Berlin, the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, London, and Biomedical Sciences Research Centre ‘Al. Fleming’, Athens, Greece, focused on various aspects of immunology, ranging from immune activation, T-cell development, and inflammatory disorders.

For almost 20 years, Daniel has been studying developmental malformations including cleft palate and dental malformations. He has led research groups at the BSRC ‘Al. Fleming’ Athens and the Institute of Oral Biology, University of Zurich before joining the University of Alberta in 2014. He co-organized two international conferences on Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMP) and was organizer for the recent Craniofacial Biology Research Symposium as part of the 100-year celebration of the School of Dentistry. The central focus of his research is to understand how BMP signalling controls cartilage, bone, and tooth development and homeostasis, and how deregulated BMP activity leads to craniofacial and skeletal malformations. For this, he has established model systems for dental malformations (taurodontism, dentinogenesis imperfecta), cleft palate, midfacial hypoplasia, and osteoarthritis.

Daniel has more than 65 peer-reviewed publications in international journals with over 6500 citations and has supervised and mentored more than 65 undergraduate and graduate students. He has received funding from the European Union, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) amongst others. Dr. Graf also holds an adjunct appointment with the Department of Medical Genetics.

About Dr. Maryam Amin

Maryam received her dentistry degree (D.M.D.) from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Oral Health Sciences from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada.  She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Health Education and received a certificate in "Teaching in Higher Education" from the Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG) in UBC. Maryam was awarded the ADEA/ADEA Gies Foundation, Dr. Anthony R. Volpe Scholar for the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Leadership Institute one-year program and received a certificate in Leadership. She is also the recipient of the Gibb award for scholarly teaching, an FoMD Tier II clinical mentoring award, and TLEF Professional Development award.

Since joining the dentistry profession, Maryam’s primary goal has been reducing oral health inequalities and improving oral health through clinical practice, research, and education. She has developed a multidisciplinary research program in collaboration with different stakeholders including clinicians; researchers from diverse disciplines such as medicine, nursing, public health, psychology, and sociology; community organizations; and policymakers. She is well-versed and has extensive experience in clinical, community, and population-based research using advanced qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods.

Maryam’s research team explores psychosocial determinants of oral health and barriers to access to dental care through integrating behavioural and social sciences into biomedical models. She has been engaged in over 30 funded research projects including CIHR, Alberta Innovates, PolicyWise for Children & Families, which resulted in 75 peer-reviewed research papers (63 published, 12 under review), 4 book chapters, 60 abstracts and 14 newsletters/articles mainly in the field of children’s oral health. She has supervised 56 graduate and undergraduate students (7 PhD, 9 MSc, 40 summer research students), 5 visiting scholars, and 4 research staff.