Director of NIDCR Serves as Inaugural Speaker at OU Event Parent Page: news id: 14793 Active Page: articleid:16244


Director of NIDCR Serves as Inaugural Speaker at OU Event

Director of NIDCR Serves as Inaugural Speaker at OU Event

Published: Thursday, May 4, 2023

Director of NIDCR Serves as Inaugural Speaker at OU Event


OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry hosted its 42nd annual Scientific Day event on Tuesday, April 11 at the Champion Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Each year on Scientific Day dental, dental hygiene and graduate students, present findings from their research projects or describe new and innovative clinical techniques. 

This year, the College of Dentistry had the honor of hosting Dr. Rena D’Souza, Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. D’Souza served as the event’s inaugural keynote speaker.

“The OU College of Dentistry is grateful to Dr. Rena D’Souza for attending our annual Scientific Day event and delivering the inaugural keynote address,” said Paul M. Mullasseril, D.D.S., M.S., Dean of the college. “Dr. D’Souza is a world-class researcher and academician. She is a key leader in advancing the fundamental knowledge of dental, oral and craniofacial health. It was a great honor for our faculty, residents and students to hear her insights into the future of clinical dental research and the substantial impact it will have on our profession.”

As the director of NIDCR, D’Souza oversees the institute’s annual budget of over $500 million, supporting basic, translational, and clinical research in areas of oral cancer, orofacial pain, tooth decay, periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, craniofacial development and oral complications of systemic diseases.

Prior to becoming NIDCR’s director, D’Souza served at the University of Utah as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Education for the Health Sciences. She held the Ole and Marty Jensen endowed chair in the School of Dentistry that she led as inaugural dean. As a clinician-scientist, D’Souza has been strongly committed to discovery and mentoring throughout her academic career. She is past president of the American Association for Dental Research and the International Association for Dental Research.

Dr. D’Souza is an internationally recognized researcher and has authored over 150 publications and book chapters in the areas of craniofacial development, matrix biology and tissue regeneration for over 30 years. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research. She received the International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award in Pulp Biology Research in 2002 and the Irwin D. Mandel Distinguished National Mentoring Award in 2017. D’Souza is active on several NIH-wide committees and maintains an active research laboratory in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Sixty-one posters were presented by dental and dental hygiene students, and residents at this year’s Scientific Day. The topics included the biomedical sciences, applied sciences, clinical sciences, community service projects, case reports, and new technique reports. The best presentations received monetary and travel awards. Scientific Day included the 36thannual Ishmael Essay Contest, which was established by Dr. Don Ishmael, who was an advocate of scholarship and professionalism and provided the funding to sponsor monetary awards for the top six scholarly essays each year.

Additionally, on Wednesday, April 12, D’Souza met with OU Health Sciences Center leaders and key researchers across the university and collaborating institutions to discuss various areas of research and interprofessional collaboration. “Dr. D’Souza’s visit to our institution underscored the important role that oral health plays in systemic health. She promoted collaborative research efforts between the College of Dentistry and various health sciences and engineering disciplines in order to realize the promise of science in achieving oral health for all,” said Sharukh Khajotia, B.D.S, M.S., Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the college.




About Scientific Day

The college is grateful to its partners who contribute to making Scientific Day a success, including the Delta Dental of Oklahoma Foundation and the J. Dean Robertson Society, the OU College of Dentistry’s philanthropic arm.

About the OU College of Dentistry

Since its inception in 1971, the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry has a tradition of educating and training its students to provide the highest quality of clinical care available. In addition to clinical excellence, the curriculum is designed to prepare well-rounded practitioners who can provide dental care in a variety of clinical settings.

The college is home to the only Doctor of Dental Surgery program in Oklahoma. Additionally, the college offers a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene, as well as graduate and residency programs in advanced general dentistry, orthodontics, periodontics, and oral and maxillofacial surgery. More than 70 percent of the state of Oklahoma’s dentists are graduates of the OU College of Dentistry.

The mission of college is to improve the health of Oklahomans and shape the future of dentistry by developing highly qualified dental practitioners and scientists through excellence in education, patient care, research, community service, faculty and facilities.