UCSF Names Featherstone as New Dean of School of Dentistry

By Kristen Bole

John Featherstone
John D.B. Featherstone, PhD

The University of California, San Francisco, has named John D.B. Featherstone, PhD, as dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry. The appointment was approved last week by the UC Board of Regents and is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2008.

Featherstone has served as interim dean since the retirement of the previous dean, Charles Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, in August 2007. He has been a member of the school’s faculty for 13 years and served as chair of the school’s Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences from 1996 to 2005.

UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop proposed Featherstone’s appointment as dean, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

“Dr. Featherstone is a distinguished scholar and a skilled administrator who has demonstrated excellent leadership in his role of interim dean,” Bishop said. “His exemplary service during that tenure demonstrates how well suited he is to serve as the dean on an ongoing basis.”

As interim dean, Featherstone led the school in selecting and appointing a department chair, establishing the new position of associate dean for clinical affairs, restructuring the school administration accordingly, and improving the management of clinical programs.

He also began overseeing the installation of digital radiography imaging equipment in all of the school’s clinics, in an effort to meet the educational and clinical needs of the future.

“Dental practice is evolving,” Featherstone said, noting that the field is using more diagnostics and taking a more active role in diagnosing a range of diseases beyond dental or gum decay, such as heart disease.

“We’re training our dentists to think in a very different fashion, to think prospectively and preventively in the way they deal with patients,” he said. “There are diagnostic tools coming on the market that will change the face of dentistry and our students need to be able to adapt to that change.”

Featherstone added that in the near future, the detection of dental caries, or cavities, will be accomplished through the use of optical technologies being developed around the world, including two methods currently in clinical testing at UCSF. These technologies are expected to lessen or eliminate the need for dental X-rays.

Tissue regeneration research, another area in which UCSF is a leader, also appears likely to lead to improvements in practice, he said.

A native of New Zealand, Featherstone is considered an international expert on tooth decay and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2003 Yngve Ericsson Prize for research in preventive dentistry, the 2006 International Association for Dental Research’s Distinguished Scientist Award for research in dental caries, the 2002 T. H. Maiman Award for excellence in dental laser research from the Academy of Laser Dentistry, and the 2007 Norton Ross Award for excellence in clinical research from the American Dental Association.

He was designated the Leland and Gladys Barber Distinguished Professor of Dentistry at the School of Dentistry and served as principal investigator on major research grants funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Featherstone’s annual compensation will be $350,000. He is also eligible for standard pension and health and welfare benefits. Featherstone intends to continue leading his laboratory team in its dental caries research and also plans to continue teaching.

The UCSF School of Dentistry is widely recognized among the premier schools of dentistry in the nation, with outstanding professional and graduate-level education and internationally known research programs. It has ranked first among all US dental schools in research funding from the National Institutes of Health for the last 16 years, reflecting the caliber of the research programs within the school. That research excellence is exemplified by its NIH-funded Centers, including the Oral AIDS Center and the Center to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health (CAN DO), which is one of only five such centers nationwide and the only one in California. For more information, visit http://dentistry.ucsf.edu.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, visit http://www.ucsf.edu.