Author: dcsarrett

VCU Give Kids A Smile A Huge Success

Last Friday a large host of students, residents, staff and faculty members contributed to our annual Give Kids A Smile event at VCU School of Dentistry.  Under the leadership of Dr. Liz Berry in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, preliminary data indicated over 200 children benefited from this event.  With the increased volume of patients, the entire Douglas and Pediatric Dentistry Clinics were full and busy way past 5 pm.  Faculty from the Department of General Practice jumped in with our entire pediatric dentistry faculty and residents to help these children go home and on the road to better oral health.  Students from all dental and dental hygiene classes volunteered in mass.  They even let me help out!  There are too many people to mention by name but you all know who you were and I appreciate your service, dedication, and hard work.   If you were there record a “Like”  or comment on SOD Facebook.





Paul Dado Kim Earns Third Place the ADA/DENTSPLY Student Clinician Research Program

Paul Dado Kim (D 2018) participated in the ADA/DENTSPLY Student Clinician Research Program at the 2015 American Dental Association (ADA) Annual Session which was held in Washington DC last weekend and won the 3rd place award in the basic science category. Kim’s study titled “TLR9-mediated inflammation triggers alveolar bone loss in experimental murine periodontitis” investigated the involvement of an innate immune sensor, TLR9, in the progression of periodontal disease utilizing a transgenic mouse model.  The results of the study showed that mice lacking TLR9 was protected against alveolar bone loss thereby identifying a possible new therapeutic target for periodontitis. “I am really happy to be part of this project. Our findings will hopefully be translated to the clinics to improve treatment outcomes,” said Kim.

A total of 61 students from each dental school across the country competed in the 56th ADA/DENTSPLY Student Clinician Research Program. “It was a great honor to represent VCU and came back home with an award among so many outstanding projects from all the different institutions,” said Kim. “I also would like to thank my mentor, Dr. Esra Sahingur, and the entire research team for giving me the opportunity to work in this project and for their continuous support”.

The results of this award winning study was published  in the journal Infection and Immunity last May; Kim, P. D., Xia-Juan, X., Crump, K. E., Abe, T., Hajishengallis, G. & Sahingur, S. E. (2015) Toll-Like Receptor 9-mediated inflammation triggers alveolar bone loss in experimental murine periodontitis. Infection and Immunity 2015; 83:2992-3002.

Congratulations to Paul Dado Kim!


Dental Continuing Education Office Update

Dr. Perry Jones has been serving as our Director Continuing Education since 2011.  At the end of September, Dr. Jones will be stepping down as director but will continue as a part-time faculty member and continue to provide instruction in the continuing education courses he has been offering.  Under his leadership, much positive change has taken place including reorganizing the office as a branch of Dentistry@VCU, implementing a state-of-the-art management system for course registration and record keeping, and lowering the operating cost of the office.   Under Dr. Jones watch, and with the help of Dr. Laurie Carter, our ADA CERP accreditation was successfully renewed.  I am very thankful for his service and his willingness to step into this role at a time when many other changes were taking place in the school.   With Dr. Jones stepping down, the Office of Continuing Education will be reorganized with Ms. Pamela Flynn reporting to Ms. Kim Jacobs in the Office of the Executive Associate Dean, Ms. Rebecca Pousson.  Ms. Flynn has relocated to Wood first floor, room 102.  As required for CERP accreditation, the program has an advisory committee which we plan to expand.  The advisory committee’s role is to provide guidance on priorities for course offerings.  If you see Dr. Jones, please thank him for his service to our CE program as well as to our school.

August Faculty Development Programs: CODA Advanced Education Program Preparations, Dental Trauma Research, and Promotion and Tenure

I am pleased to announce the upcoming programs for Friday August 28th.  Dr. Janina Lewis, Director of Faculty Advancement, and I will conduct a session for new faculty members on the faculty promotion and tenure system and process in the School of Dentistry.  This will take place in Brown Conference Room (Perkinson 3114) from 2:20 to 3:30 PM.  A special announcement was sent to new faculty members previously but if you missed it please let Dr. Lewis know you would like to attend.

Also on Friday August 28th, we are fortunate to have Dr. Roberta Pileggi, Associate Professor, Chair, and Director of Graduate Endodontics & Associate Dean & Director for the School of Advanced Dental Sciences at the University of Florida College of Dentistry (UFCD) speaking to our faculty. Dr. Pileggi will be speaking in Perkinson 3121 on two topics.  From 2:20 to 3:30 she will be discussing CODA Advanced Education Preparation at the UFCD.  Following this session 3:40 PM, she will be speaking on Dental Trauma Research, also in Perkinson 3121.  Both sessions are open to all faculty members.  You can learn more about Dr. Pileggi at

I personally enjoyed and learned much from program provided in July by the Behavioral Learning Team (BLT) from the School of Allied Health Professions last month.  The BLT faculty of Amy Armstrong, Laurie Cathers and Chris Wagner covered the array of topics our students will be learning in the new behavior sciences curriculum starting this semester.

As a reminder, under our new school schedule, Faculty Development programs are scheduled for the fourth Friday PMs of each month (except November and December for obvious reasons) and also the second Friday PMs in March, April and May.  Due to the international bike race, there will not be a program in September this year.

Looking ahead to October 23rd, the program will include ECHO 360 use, Exam Soft and setting up Blackboard and Banner Grade entry.

Dr. Clara M. Spatafore, D.D.S., M.S., Appointed Chair of the Department of Endodontics

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Clara Spatafore as chair of the Department Endodontics.  She has been serving as the interim department chair since October 2014.   Dr. Spatafore attended West Virginia University where she received her undergraduate degree in Medical Technology.   Dr. Spatafore then earned her D.D.S., M.S. and Certificate in Endodontics from West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

A member of the American Association of Endodontics (AAE) since 1987, she has held a variety of leadership roles with the organization’s Board, including president, president-elect, vice president and secretary of its Executive Committee as well as a director. Dr. Spatafore, a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, has been a member of several AAE committees, and she serves on the Journal of Endodontics’ Scientific Review Board. Dr. Spatafore lectures nationally and internationally in all facets of endodontics.

During her short time as interim chair she has accomplished much including the development of a strategic plan for the department and obtaining funding from the AAE Endowed Faculty Matching Grant program to assist in completing the fund raising for the Neil Dodds Professsorship.  Congratulations Dr. Spatafore!

Dr. Clara Spatafore, D.D.S., M.S., Appointed Interim Chair of the Department of Endodontics

I am delighted to announce the Dr. Clara Spatafore has joined our faculty and will serve as the interim chair of the Department Endodontics.  Dr. Spatafore was born in Clarksburg, WV, attended West Virginia University where she received her undergraduate degree in Medical Technology.   Dr. Spatafore then earned her D.D.S., M.S. and Certificate in Endodontics from West Virginia University School of Dentistry.  Following completion of her training, she served as an endodontist in the United States Navy.

Currently,she is a part-time private practitioner in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and also serves as an assistant professor of endodontics at Drexel University’s School of Medicine.  Dr. Spatafore also serves as a clinical instructor at the WVU School of Dentistry.   A member of the American Association of Endodontics (AAE) since 1987, she has held a variety of leadership roles with the organization’s Board, including president, president-elect, vice president and secretary of its Executive Committee as well as a director. Dr. Spatafore, a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, has been a member of several AAE committees, and she serves on the Journal of Endodontics’ Scientific Review Board.

Dr. Spatafore is a member of the American Dental Association, and currently, the Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania Dental Associations.  She also holds fellowship in the American College of Dentists.  Dr. Spatafore lectures nationally and internationally in all facets of endodontics.

Dr. Spatafore brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and networking to the VCU School of Dentistry.  Please welcome Dr. Spatafore to our faculty!

Student feedback spurs new course offerings

Every year prior to graduation, senior students are asked to provide feedback on their overall educational experience that is used to improve the dental and dental hygiene programs. Over the past several years, graduating dental students expressed that they wished more opportunities were available to tailor their educational experiences to their own areas of need and/or interest. As a direct result, the faculty of School of Dentistry has designed several senior “selectives” in a program that was implemented for the first time this fall.

Currently, there are seven selectives offered to senior students: endodontics, oral diagnostic sciences, oral surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and prosthodontics. An eighth offering is in the works; cosmetics and aesthetics, housed within the Department of General Practice with cooperation from the other specialties, is expected to be available to students starting in summer 2015. Most selectives run for one semester, with the exception of orthodontics and prosthodontics, which are full-year, longitudinal experiences. They are designed to enhance the individual student experience by allowing students to customize their education and offer advanced experiences that are not typically available to senior dental students. “The selectives are not mini-residencies,” shared Meredith Baines, director of curriculum innovation. “While students planning to specialize are welcome to participate, most selectives are intended for the generalist – to give generalists extra experiences in areas they personally want to further develop.”

For now, the clinical, patient-based selectives are open to senior dental students only. “We are open to the possibility of offering appropriately designed selective opportunities to other students in the future,” said Baines. And the hope is to expand current selective offerings to include a broader range of topics based on student feedback and faculty interest.

The student-driven initiative has proven beneficial to the clinical faculty and residents as well. They enjoy working in a one-on-one setting with enthusiastic and highly motivated students. A student’s primary responsibility still is to his or her core educational program, which includes a patient panel and service learning rotations. Students work carefully to schedule their selective experiences so as not to disrupt their primary clinical experiences.

The response from the current D4 class was outstanding. The first round of applications outnumbered the selective spots available at the moment. Every selective was filled to capacity for the fall semester. Applications for spring selectives will open soon. Senior dental students in good academic standing may apply.

2014 Call for Dean’s Faculty Excellence Awards

To recognize the many accomplishments of our faculty, I am pleased to send out this call for nominations for the following faculty awards:

Dean’s Faculty Excellence Award for Didactic Teaching
Dean’s Faculty Excellence Award for Clinical Teaching
Dean’s Faculty Excellence Award for Research
Dean’s Faculty Excellence Award for Educational Innovation
Dean’s Faculty Excellence Award for Part-time Faculty
Dean’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship of Engagement and Collaboration

The Dean’s Faculty Excellence Awards for didactic instruction, clinical teaching, research, educational innovation, and recognition of part-time faculty are presented to demonstrate the University and School of Dentistry’s high regard for faculty service. In establishing the Dean’s Faculty Excellence Awards, the VCU School of Dentistry wishes to recognize, in a tangible way, the outstanding accomplishments of its faculty. These awards are designed to honor those faculty members who demonstrate the highest level of performance and excellence in the pursuit of the School of Dentistry goals and the fulfillment of its mission.

All appointed tenured and non-tenured members of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry full time faculty who have been employed with the School two or more years at the time of nomination are eligible for these awards. To be eligible for the part-time faculty award an individual must have been employed with the School as a part-time clinical faculty member for two or more academic years at the time of nomination.

Nominations can be made by any member of the VCU School of Dentistry faculty, staff or student body, or any individual who has in-depth knowledge of the activities of that person.

If you wish to make a nomination, the nomination forms and directions are at this link VCU SOD Faculty Awards – Call for Nominations – 2014. If you need assistance with the nomination process, please contact either Drs. Byrne or Healy, or myself.

All nominations must be electronically submitted to the Dean’s Office ( no later than June 30, 2014.

Presentation to the Old Dominion Dental Society

I was pleased to be invited to provide an update on the VCU School of Dentistry and discuss recruitment of underrepresented minority students. This marked the 101th year for the ODDS. Additional speakers I was privileged to hear were Dr. Harold Marioneaux, Director of the Dental Hygiene program at Thomas Nelson Community College and Mr. Robert Johns, Executive Director for the National Dental Association. Congratulations to Dr. Jason Paige and Dr. Lori Wilson for being awarded the President’s Award and Dentist of the Year Award, respectively. Rachel Duval, D2017, and several pre-dental students were on hand as well from the Peter B. Ramsey Mentoring Program. Here is a link to to my slides: Old Dominion Dental Society April 2014.

Dr. Thomas Koertge Appointed Director of Preclinical Sciences Education; Meredith Baines to Chair Curriculum Committee

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Tom Koertge as the Director of Preclinical Sciences Education, reporting primarily to the Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Ellen Byrne, and secondarily to the dean for these duties. In this new role, Dr. Koertge will focus on moving the very successful curriculum concepts in the clinical skills courses to the didactic and preclinical curriculum with the goal of enhancing learning outcomes focused on educational domains in dentistry. Dr. Koertge’s appointment completes the assembling of a team to lead the design, revision and oversight of the DDS curriculum. He joins his fellow team members Dr. Andrew Yeudall, Director of Basic Dental Sciences Education, Ms. Meredith Baines, Director of Curriculum Innovation, and Dr. Rick Archer, Director of Clinical Sciences Education. Dr. Koertge will provide leadership and oversight, in collaboration with course directors, chairs, and program directors, of all preclinical DDS and DH courses relative to course content, timing, and integration across the educational systems in the School of Dentistry. He will also serve as Vice Chair of the Practice Affairs Committee and Chair of the D2 Class Committee for the APC.

Dr. Koertge earned his D.M.D. degree from Southern Illinois University in 1978. He completed his residency training in Periodontics in 1981 and his Ph.D. in 1984, both at the University of Iowa, while he was supported through an institutional National Research Service Award. He currently holds joint appointments with the Department of Periodontics and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. Koertge has been on the faculty in the Department of Periodontics at Virginia Commonwealth University since 1982, Pre-doctoral Periodontics Director since 1989 and Vice Chair since 2005 and he will continue in these departmental roles. He has extensive experience in pre-doctoral education having served as an officer and counselor for the ADEA section on Periodontics and as Chair of the American Academy of Periodontics Education committee. Dr. Koertge has also been the attending periodontist of the VCU/VA General Practice Residency since 1988 and is currently serving as the State Dental Officer for the Virginia National Guard.

In addition, Meredith Baines has been appointed to Chair the Curriculum Committee. In this capacity, she will lead the committee in development of senior selectives and school policies to support them. The committee will also be continuing with review of the current curriculum in tandem with the process of curriculum revision and modernization.

Meredith Baines, M.Ed. is Assistant Professor and Director for Curriculum Innovation at the School of Dentistry. She received her B.A. from Washington and Lee University (2001) and her M.Ed. from the VCU School of Education (2007). Meredith has worked in health professions education since 2001, split evenly between Graduate Medical Education and Dentistry. Specific areas of experience include curriculum design, management, and assessment as well as educational program management. In her current position, she provides leadership in monitoring, measuring, improving, advancing, and innovating, the pre-doctoral and post-graduate curricula with a focus on educational methodologies and student assessment. Meredith has been responsible for implementing two major educational technology projects – E*Value, our web-based course and instructional evaluation system, and Exam Soft, a computer-based testing program, that launched as a pilot in spring 2014. Meredith serves on the VCU Library Advisory Council (VLAC), University Assessment Council, is a liaison to the American Dental Education Association’s Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education (ADEA CCI), routinely reviews educational methodology manuscripts for the Journal of Dental Education, and served on the School of Dentistry’s strategic planning committee.

Both appointments are designed to support the goals of the VCU Quest for Distinction and the School of Dentistry’s strategic plan.

VCU Quest Support: Theme1, B, C; Theme III, B

Goal 1.1
The School of Dentistry will provide its students an academic and clinical education that reflects the knowledge, skills and values needed for future success.

Objective 1.1.1
To develop and maintain academic and clinical curricula that reflect evidence-based advances in research, technology and changes in the oral and general health needs of the population

Objective 1.1.2
To prepare students to self-assess their learning outcomes and allow them opportunities to individualize their preparation based on areas of strength and interest and future career plans

Goal 1.5
The School of Dentistry will be financially positioned to be a premier educational institution and employer in an increasingly competitive health care field

Objective 1.5.1
To identify ways, including new sources of revenue, to contain student educational costs (tuition and fees) and support educational improvements

Goal 3.1
The School of Dentistry will be known for the high quality and value of its patient services, including undergraduate, graduate and faculty practice

Objective 3.1.1
To provide patient services that are consistent with the mission of the School of Dentistry

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