A UCSF School of Dentistry alumnus has given the school $10 million – its largest gift ever – strengthening the school’s position as a global leader in oral health and oral health sciences through the development of a modern curriculum, recruitment and retention of world-class faculty members, and professional development and mentorship programs for junior faculty.
The anonymous contribution will establish an endowment, providing a steady and lasting source of income to sustain the long-term vision of the current and future deans of the school and the future of oral health.
“We are grateful to the alumnus for this significant contribution in furthering the school’s growth and development,” said UCSF School of Dentistry Dean Michael Reddy, DMD, DMSc. “This gift will enable us to prepare the school for a new era in dental health and medicine and support our vision for many years to come.”
Reddy sees the role of dentists in health care changing as the symbiotic relationship between oral health and overall health is increasingly recognized. For instance, studies have connected periodontal disease to an increased risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, and in pregnant women to a greater risk for preterm birth. Scientists also have found a type of bacteria associated with severe gum disease in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
This gift will enable us to prepare the school for a new era in dental health and medicine and support our vision for many years to come.
During the next 20 years, he said, oral health is expected to become fully integrated into general health care, with the greatest growth in pediatrics, geriatrics and oncology. Moreover, patient care will emphasize prevention and oral self-care, rather than dental treatment and repair.
That shift is likely to drive significant changes in how and where dentistry is practiced, from the current private-practice structure to group practices, hospitals, and academic health centers, where dentists work as part of a team with physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals.
Reddy’s goal is to educate dental students and residents in patient-centered delivery settings such as health clinics and hospitals, in which faculty members practice in teams with students, trainees and other health professionals. Closer integration with the UCSF schools of medicine, nursing and pharmacy through cross-disciplinary research centers also will strengthen and leverage discoveries and elevate the oral health sciences.
For junior faculty, the school plans to move beyond traditional mentorship models and develop a formal mentorship and coaching program, which will expose young educators to a wide variety of relevant skill sets and nurture each individual’s unique potential.
“The UCSF School of Dentistry is not just a building or a facility. We’re a community of scholars. We need the best and brightest scientists and clinicians to drive the changes we want to see in health care,” Reddy said. “We need oral health care specialists conducting research and patient care at the highest level to ensure that UCSF maintains its standing as an exceptional community partner, a leader in oral health care and research, and a top provider of the highest-quality patient care.”
Since its founding in 1881, the UCSF School of Dentistry has evolved from the only dental-education provider west of the Mississippi into an international leader in the education of oral health practitioners and scholars, comprehensive dental care, and breakthrough research in such fields as caries prevention, tissue and bone regeneration, and AIDS-associated conditions.
With approximately 170 faculty members and 435 students, the UCSF School of Dentistry has been the top recipient of dentistry funding from the National Institutes of Health for 26 of the past 27 years, reflecting the caliber and depth of its research in oral health, craniofacial and developmental biology, oral cancer, orofacial pain, bioengineering, and other areas. The school also is a national leader in dental education, offering DDS, PhD, and master’s degree programs in oral and craniofacial sciences and a postbaccalaureate program that helps prepare disadvantaged students for admission into U.S. dental schools.
“The way dental care is delivered and practiced in the future will demand a different type of provider and new approaches to dental education,” Reddy said. “This gift significantly enhances our ability to educate the future leaders in dentistry, not just for the next generation but also for many generations to come.”
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area.