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  1. 1. A Publication of The University of Alabama School of Dentistry THE TALES TEETH TELL Monitoring the Mouth to Diagnose Disease AQUEOUS SOLUTIONS Banishing Bacteria by Purging the Pipes ADDRESSING THE AFTERMATH Dentistry Central to Disaster Response Volume 2/1, Winter 2001
  2. 2. A Message from the Dean WELCOME TO THE SECOND ISSUE of Contact maga- Contact is published by the University zine. In our inaugural issue, we described the progress we have of Alabama School of Dentistry at UAB made in renovating our building—including improved waiting in collaboration with the Office of areas, streamlined business offices, updated dental clinics with redesigned chairs, Public Relations and Marketing. and new, high-tech classrooms. But as you all know, it’s not just bricks and mortar that make a great academic institution. More important are the people— EXECUTIVE EDITOR the faculty, staff, and students who work within these hallowed halls. Pam Powell In this issue of Contact you will learn more about the cutting-edge research being conducted at our school, including efforts to explore the relationship MANAGING EDITOR between dental diseases and systemic conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy, Russ Willcutt heart disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis. You will also read about our interna- tional interests and ties, our exceptional students, and our dedicated faculty. EXECUTIVE ART DIRECTOR If you look closely, you will discover common threads running through all Ron Gamble of these stories. Together these threads form the fabric of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry. These threads join generation to generation, ART DIRECTOR with each building upon that which the previous generation left for them, and Amy R. Bickell they also represent the work of your colleagues—past as well as present. The passing of our teachers and leaders always makes us recall the many PRODUCTION MANAGER gifts they have bequeathed to us. Dr. Victor J. Matukas came to UAB in 1975, Lynn Lowrie and, after rising through the ranks, he was asked to serve as dean in 1990. During his tenure at UAB he touched the lives of many of our students, faculty, PHOTOGRAPHY and staff. His passing last October saddens us all. Dr. Matukas left a legacy, fol- Steve Wood, lowing in the tradition of excellence set by those who came before him. Their UAB Photography & Graphics work was not just a job, it was a passion—it was the very essence of their lives. Our graduates and friends have an opportunity to contribute to this lega- WRITERS cy. The University of Alabama School of Dentistry offers many ways of pay- Sandra Bearden, Norma Butterworth- ing tribute in a lasting and meaningful manner to what the school has meant in McKittrick, Rhonda Sessions Gregg, Rebecca your personal and professional lives. McCracken, Ella Robinson, Russ Willcutt, Cheryl As we begin the new year, I wish you and your family peace, joy, and good Sloan Wray health. During 2001, I hope you will take the time to visit us and see firsthand the progress we are making on behalf of our profession—and, indeed, on EDITORIAL BOARD behalf of all the citizens of Alabama. Mary Lynne Capilouto, D.M.D. Dean, University of Alabama Please visit us at School of Dentistry Sincerely, [] for an online version of Contact Andrea Martin as well as information on: Director of Development Mary Lynne Capilouto, D.M.D. Steven Filler, D.D.S. Continuing Education Dean, University of Alabama Assistant Dean for Student, Alumni, Dentistry Catalogs School of Dentistry and External Affairs Departments Degree Programs Michael Reddy, D.M.D. Assistant Dean for Planning Alumni Association and Clinical Activity Academic Calendar Research
  3. 3. Volume 2/1, Winter 2001 P r o f e s s i o n a l P u l s e Fe a t u r e s 2 News about the accomplishments, awards, honors, grants, and research findings of the students and faculty of The University of Alabama School of Dentistry. 11 Aqueous Solutions—Special chair design in the dental school’s clinics allows for periodic purging of water lines, less- ening the chance of exposing patients to bacteria. C ov e r S t o r y 12 Addressing the Aftermath—Dentists often play an important role in dealing with the details after natural and 4 The Tales Teeth Tell—Researchers in the School of Dentistry are discovering connections between oral health man-made disasters. and systemic disorders including diabetes and cardiac disease. Fe a t u r e s 13 Athletic Assistance—Students and faculty in the School of Dentistry volunteer their efforts to assist the exceptional athletes of the Special Olympics. 8 International Interests—Longstanding student exchange programs between the dental school and universities around the globe benefit everyone involved. 14 Fa c u l t y Fo c u s Feature stories on some of the school’s outstanding faculty. In this issue, meet Patrick Louis, Raquel Mazer, and Thomas Weatherford. 9 Comparing the Curriculum—Differences in dental education in the United States and Japan are a fascinating study, according to biomaterials expert Shiro Suzuki. S t u d e n t S p o t l i g h t 10 Resinous Restorations—New indirect composite resin tested at the School of Dentistry provides excellent 16 Profiles of selected students—in this issue, Priscila Denny, Chrisy Congo, Sunil Philip, and Matt Brewer. A l u m n i P r o f i l e wear resistance and esthetic properties. 10 Exceptional Opportunities—Two UAB dental students make the most of a rare opportunity to study at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. 18 Following in the Footsteps—Why is it that so many sons and daughters of dental alums decide to enter their parent’s profession? Meet two families who share their reasons for mak- ing the School of Dentistry a part of their family tradition. 4 8 10 12
  4. 4. Professional Pulse Suzuki Helps Design Appliance for Dysphagia FILLER NAMED TO ADEA’S Shiro Suzuki, D.D.S., professor of biomaterials, has been awarded a grant supporting LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE clinical evaluation of a device he helped design that helps dysphagic patients to swal- Steven J. Filler, D.D.S., professor and assis- low. The grant was made by the Toluyama Corporation and will help Suzuki and his tant dean for student, alumni, and external colleagues at Showa University in Japan evaluate the effectiveness of the “Swalloaid” affairs, has been chosen by the American device on elderly edentulous individuals. Dental Education Association (ADEA) as “I am expecting a visiting professor from Showa University who is an expert in one of 19 to participate in a year-long fel- this area to arrive at UAB this spring,” says Suzuki. “Our collaboration should lead to lowship known as the ADEA Leadership some very meaningful results.” Institute. Filler’s term began last July. Suzuki says it is important to shine a light on the work being done in the field of dentistry to help those who are physically disabled. He will introduce the concept for “These individuals are among the nation’s finest dental school educators,” accord- this new appliance at the International Association for Disabled and Oral Health in ing to Richard W.Valachovic, D.M.D., Madrid, Spain. ADEA executive director. “They are the trailblazers who will lead our institutions 1917 Clinic Receives Federal Support in the future.” The 1917 Dental Clinic has received an who would otherwise not receive dental The institute is a three-phased program, award of $24,057 from the Ryan White care at all. Without funding from sources beginning with a five-day session focusing CARE Act Dental Reimbursement such as the Ryan White CARE Act—as on personal assessment, team perfor- Program. This federally funded program well as other generous charitable organi- mance, and active learning involvement. provides reimbursement to dental Phase II is a nine-month, intensive experi- zations—the clinic would be unable to schools and specialized clinics to help ence at the fellow’s home institution, provide these much-needed services and during which he completes a project that compensate the cost of providing dental may very well have to close its doors focuses on issues critical to dental care for patients with HIV/AIDS. altogether.” school and higher education administra- “The 1917 Dental Clinic strives to The retrospective grant was funded tion.The third phase is a one-day leader- be self supporting,” says Jeff Hill, at approximately 65 percent of the total ship forum held in conjunction with the D.M.D., dental director of the clinic. uncompensated costs incurred by the ADEA Annual Session and Exposition in “Although we’re not a ‘free’ clinic, we do clinic for the services provided between Chicago next March. provide services for a number of patients July 1998 and June 1999. DENTAL ALUMNI HONORED FOR ACHIEVEMENTS Dean Mary Lynne this was a price he was willing to pay, for he longed to be what Capilouto, D.M.D., he had dreamed of all his life—a caregiver and a healer.” recently presented honorary awards to Of Nevins, Capilouto said that “young graduates can follow the alumni of the School paths of those who came before them or blaze new ones.This of Dentistry.The year’s recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award does Distinguished Alumnus both. She represents what a young practitioner should aspire to Award was bestowed by giving to her patients and giving back to her community and upon Mario Guillermo her profession.” Martinez, Jr., D.M.D., and The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given to individuals age 40 the Outstanding Young and above, while the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award is made Alumnus Award was given to Leigh-Anne Tucker Nevins, D.M.D. to those below the age of 40. Criteria for both awards include In remarks made during the awards ceremony, Capilouto being a continuous learner, having made significant contributions described Martinez as man with a remarkable background. in terms of care and volunteerism to the school, and being “Although he loves his profession, he loved freedom more—so active in professional organizations.The first awards were pre- much that he fled his homeland once it had fallen to sented in 1999 to G. Lewis Mitchell, Jr., D.M.D., and to Kevin M. Communist oppression,” she said. “He left behind an established Sims, D.M.D. dental practice and career for uncertainty in a new land. But 2 Contact
  5. 5. In Memoriam Victor J. Matukas, D.D.S., M.D., Ph.D. 1933-2000 VICTOR MATUKAS, former dean of and a professor in the School of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral and Dentistry, passed away on October 5, Maxillofacial Surgery. In 1985 he was 2000. He was appointed dean in 1990, named the first occupant of the Charles a position he held until his retirement A. McCallum Chair of Oral and in 1997. Maxillofacial Surgery. He soon became “Victor Matukas was one of the chair of that department before rising most intelligent individuals I have had to the position of dean of the School of the pleasure of working with,” accord- Dentistry. “Vic continued the tradition of ing to his friend and colleague Peter D. A diplomat of the American Board excellence established at UAB and even Waite, D.D.S., M.D., professor and of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, raised the bar a notch or two,” says Waite. chair of the Department of Oral and Matukas held positions in professional “Like many other residents and students, Maxillofacial Surgery. “He had a pho- organizations such as the American I am saddened by his death. But I will tographic memory and a clear perspec- Dental Association, the American always remember him for the influence tive on complex issues. As a teacher, he Association of Dental Schools, and the he has had on my life and my career.” made difficult problems seem simple. International Association of Dental Vic was objective, sincere, honest, fair, Research. He was also a member of the THE MATUKAS FAMILY ASKS and he always spoke his mind. As do Southern Medical Association, the THAT DONATIONS BE MADE many others, I owe him a great deal.” American Trauma Society, and the TO THE FOLLOWING A native of Freeport, Texas, Matukas International Association of Oral and ORGANIZATIONS: received his D.D.S. degree from Loyola Maxillofacial Surgeons, among many University. He earned his Ph.D. degree others. He received the Most Excellent from the University of Rochester, and Our Lady of the Lake Building Fund Fellow Award from the Alabama Dental or Social Concerns Committee his M.D. degree cum laude from the Association in 1996. PO Box 388 University of Colorado. He performed Matukas was involved in a wide Pell City, Alabama 35215 postdoctoral studies at Charity variety of research, including the use of Hospital in New Orleans and the the ceramic material durapatite in den- The American Cancer Society National Institute of Dental Research tal augmentation, root implants, and PO Box 685 before continuing his studies and com- orthagnic surgery. He collaborated on Pell City, Alabama 35125 pleting an internship at UAB Hospital. dozens of articles published in such Matukas was appointed assistant notable periodicals as the Journal of Cell dean for hospital affairs at UAB in 1975, Biology, the Journal of Oral and Maxillo- during which time he was also an asso- facial Surgery, and the Alabama Journal of ciate professor in the Department of Medical Sciences. He also contributed Surgery. He was also a senior scientist chapters for many dental and surgical in the Comprehensive Cancer Center textbooks. Contact 3
  6. 6. The Tales Teeth Tell BY SANDRA BEARDEN W Monitoring WHEN DENTISTS EXAMINE their patients, they have the opportunity to detect more than tooth decay or gum disease. Researchers in the School of Dentistry at UAB are dis- covering a host of connections between oral health and systemic dis- ease, according to Marjorie Jeffcoat, the Mouth D.M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Periodontics. to Diagnose “It’s important to remain aware of possible systemic linkages whenever you have a patient Disease in the chair,” she says. “We’re finding that many conditions and diseases of the body leave clues in the mouth for dentists to discover. This can ORAL CONDITIONS HAVE lead to early diagnosis, sometimes far in advance BEEN SHOWN TO HAVE of a patient reporting symptoms to their pri- A DIRECT CONNECTION mary-care physician.” TO SYSTEMIC HEALTH, INCLUDING THOSE LEADING TO PRE-TERM BIRTH AND LOW Surgeon General Supports BIRTH-WEIGHT INFANTS. According to the familiar children’s song, “the jaw bone’s connected to the neck bone,” and there’s truth in those simple lyrics. In many ways, the jaw, mouth, teeth, and surrounding tissue are intrinsically connected to the rest of the body. “Every dentist knows that certain medical or systemic diseases can modify oral diseases. We Written concisely and in layman’s terms, the report know that diabetics who don’t maintain their calls for further research and investigation of such disease well tend to lose bone around their teeth linkages. “Dr. David Satcher, the surgeon general, more quickly than other patients, for instance,” had us condense and refine a thick sheaf of doc- says Jeffcoat. “On the other side of the coin, there umentation into just a few pages,” Jeffcoat says. are dental diseases that affect the whole body. “He wanted to be sure it was widely circulated and That’s why we feel that dental examinations written in a way that would lead people to read it.” should be included in general-health checkups.” A century ago, Jeffcoat points out, the This link is underscored by the first-ever answer to “bad teeth” was to remove them. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health, expectation was that “toothlessness” would solve which was released last May. Major findings in related health problems. Today’s answer is the report include the fact that “the mouth research that identifies and explains the relation- reflects general health and well-being,” and that ships between a healthy mouth and teeth and “oral diseases and conditions are associated with the human body. The dental school is pursuing other health problems.” this kind of research through its clinics, in stud- Jeffcoat was among the dental professionals ies, and at the Special Caries Research Center who were called upon to help draft the document. (please see sidebar accompanying this feature). 4 Contact
  7. 7. INFECTIONS IN low birth-weight babies as mothers with healthy THE MOUTH CAN gums,” Jeffcoat says. “We’re also doing a study of IMPACT DISEASES SUCH AS DIABETES, about 350 pregnant patients with periodontal dis- IMPEDING THE ease to determine the best treatments for women.” BODY’S ABILITY TO Jeffcoat says the next step in the study will MAINTAIN BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS. involve intervention and treatment. Means of intervention being tested include routine clean- ing and polishing, and scaling and root plan- ing—both with and without administering an antibiotic. “Our goal, of course, is to find treat- ments that are not harmful to babies,” she adds. Ananda Dasanayake, B.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Oral Biology, has also studied periodontal disease as a risk factor for low birth weight. A native of Sri Lanka, Dasanayake first noted the correlation when he was studying maternal and child health in Thailand. Former dentistry Deans Joseph Volker, D.D.S., and Charles McCallum, D.M.D., Inflammation and Infants later recruited him to UAB, where he continued In cooperation with the Department of his research. Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jeffcoat is leading a “Low birth weight is a significant health study of risk factors for pre-term birth. problem,” says Dasanayake. “Such babies are Researchers have reviewed the medical records about 20 times more likely than full-weight of 1,300 pregnant women, taking into account babies to die before their first birthdays. Those such factors as whether or not they smoke and who survive the first year may have respiratory, whether or not they are underweight, as well as neurological, or behavioral problems. other habits and body characteristics. “In a joint enterprise with Meharry Medical In the dental aspect of the study, the key College in Nashville and the University of North difference between test groups involves gum Carolina at Chapel Hill, we studied 421 preg- inflammation stemming from periodontal dis- nant women, most of them African Americans,” he ease. Such inflammation produces the same continues. “We concluded that mothers with high chemicals that, at high-enough levels, can set off levels of periodontal pathogens were more likely early labor and delivery in pregnant women. to have low birth-weight infants. It’s obvious that “We determined that mothers with periodontal disparities in dental care lead to other problems, disease have five times as much risk for delivering and we need to find some way to close this gap.” Contact 5
  8. 8. Sharing Tests and Treatments In addition to these recent findings, Jeffcoat says that links have long been established between oral health and another major disease—diabetes. It’s known that people with diabetes have a higher-than-normal risk of periodontal disease, she says, and physicians and dentists caution diabetics to control their blood-sugar levels in order to avoid gum disease. Geurs is trying new approaches. “Studies have shown that certain types of rats that are genetically predisposed to have diabetes also have a lot of periodontal disease,” he says. “We already know that diabetes makes periodontal disease worse, but new data indicates that it’s Caries and Cardiology also harder to control blood glucose with insulin A connection is also emerging between chronic if you have infections. Periodontal disease could oral infection and another killer—heart disease. be one of those infections.” “The data are still somewhat controversial, as are Along with other departments at UAB, den- most findings when they first come out,” says tal researchers have also conducted studies that Jeffcoat. “But a number of people are looking at connect oral health to osteoporosis and arthritis. worldwide trends and seeing that patients with Through the ongoing Women’s Health Initiative, oral infections are at greater risk for cardiovas- scientists are measuring bone-density readings in cular disease than those without oral infections.” the jaws and hips of women involved in the study. In a UAB study called “HER BITE,” funded A correlation between bone loss in the two areas by the Wyeth-Ayerst pharmaceuticals company, indicates that similar treatments may be devel- researchers are studying 130 patients who have oped to address both types of bone problems. had cardiovascular disease to see how much Another study, conducted several years ago, RESEARCH HAS INDICATED A LINK periodontal disease they have. involves using digital subtraction radiography to BETWEEN ORAL “We do clinical exams, measure periodontal measure bone and cartilage changes in the hands INFECTION AND pockets, and then take radiographs to determine of patients with both periodontitis and rheumatoid HEART DISEASE, the degree of periodontal disease,” says Nicolaas arthritis. Jeffcoat and Larry Moreland, M.D., AND BONE LOSS IN THE MOUTH ALSO Geurs, D.M.D., an assistant professor of peri- professor of immunology and rheumatology in COINCIDES WITH odontology. “Early analyses indicate that the School of Medicine, found that similar OSTEOPOROSIS IN patients with a history of cardiovascular disease methods can be used to monitor both diseases. MEN AND IN WOMEN. are nearly twice as likely to have periodontal disease as those with no such history. A History for Healing “One explanation, though still not proven, With so much proof of the direct connection concerns the presence of plaque,” says Geurs. between oral and systemic health, how should “Bacteria in the dental plaque around teeth also dentists incorporate this knowledge into their can be found in atherosclerotic plaques. That day-to-day practices? Jeffcoat prescribes a three- bacteria can trigger little blood clots to form in pronged approach involving screening and diag- the blood vessels and get trapped in the areas nosis, prevention, and early treatment of peri- narrowed by plaque, triggering a heart attack.” odontal disease. “It’s more vital than ever that “Simply put, the significance of this study for dentists take medical histories and do systemic cardiology is that if you treat oral infections in checks for signs of disease,” she says. “This women, there’s a possibility of preventing them includes making sure there are no swellings, from having heart attacks,” says Michael Reddy, abscesses, or swollen lymph nodes. We also rec- D.M.D., professor and postgraduate director of ommend using the Periodontal Screening and periodontology. “It’s all about how everything is Recording Examination, which only takes a few systemically related. If you have an infection any- minutes to complete. where, even around your teeth, that could lead to “It’s also important to take a dental history adverse outcomes—maybe involving your heart.” the same way a physician takes a medical histo- 6 Contact
  9. 9. ry,” she says. “Listening to a patient’s chief com- plaint and asking questions about signs, symp- THE SPECIALIZED CARIES RESEARCH CENTER toms, and lifestyle habits are essential to the gathering of a complete medical history. As we While one focus of dental research is revealing how oral and systemic teach our students, a thoroughly documented diseases are linked within individuals—what could be referred to as a medical history is a prerequisite to providing horizontal connection—scientists in the Specialized Caries Research Center appropriate care.” (SCRC) are exploring the transmission of decay-causing bacteria.There is Jeffcoat says dentists also need to know their evidence that such bacteria transmit vertically—from mother to child. patient’s medical histories in order to prevent “Through molecular genetics, we use DNA fingerprinting to demonstrate problems. “Patients with certain heart problems how strains are transmitted,” says Page Caufield, D.D.S., Ph.D., the cen- need to be premedicated with antibiotics before ter’s director. “We also use genetic techniques to study ‘fidelity,’ which so much as a cleaning, for instance,” she says. relates to how and what mothers transmit to their babies.” “We need to explain to new patients that our aim is to protect their health, not to pry into their Tied in with transmission is the notion of ‘clonality’—that some strains of caries-causing streptococci are more virulent than others.“The implication lives,” says Jeffcoat. is that bacteria transmitted through clonality affect whether or not your Decisions regarding treatment are to be teeth are susceptible to tooth decay,” says Caufield. “If we can identify made between dentists and patients, she says, such factors in mothers, we may be able to predict which children are at but a dentist spotting other potential medical increased risk.Then we can take preventive measures.” problems may wish to contact a physician directly—with the permission of the patient. “If UAB’s caries research center is one of two such centers funded in 1994 I were administering an antibiotic, pain medica- by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).The other is located at Harvard tion, or other drugs that might cause an adverse University. Although the NIH has discontinued its funding after this year, the center’s work will continue through several smaller grants, Caufield says. reaction, consulting directly with the patient’s physician is advisable,” she says. “Tooth decay is the number-one infectious disease in the world, in terms Jeffcoat warns against dentists or patients of prevalence and cost,” he says. “In the United States, 70 percent of oral taking what she calls a “magazine approach” to health problems stem from tooth decay, compared to 10 percent that are diagnosis. “That’s applying a general concept to a result of periodontal disease.” The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on a situation, such as saying that everyone with Oral Health, released this past May, estimates that the nation’s dental bill periodontal disease is over the age of 40 with red will exceed $60 billion this year. gums,” she says. “You don’t want to make a judg- While tooth decay is obviously a big expense to Americans, it’s even ment based on a generality. Every patient more costly in other parts of the world. “The People’s Republic of China deserves individual consideration.” has 1.2 billion people and only 20,000 dentists,” says Caufield. “As the Chinese acquire more Western dietary habits, tooth decay is going to go A Healthy Self-Image right off the charts. In this case, prevention is the only route to go As important as physical health certainly is, because the cost of treatment would be prohibitive.” mental well-being is equally valuable. Yet anoth- The SCRC collaborates not only with China, but also with Sweden, Brazil, er study in which Jeffcoat is involved has estab- Taiwan,Thailand, Guatemala, and other countries on research to reduce lished a link between feeling good about your dental caries. Joseph F.Volker, D.D.S., founding dean of the School of teeth and psychological well-being. Dentistry, helped pioneer dental research at UAB, and his successor, “The patients involved in this study have no Charles McCallum, D.M.D., fostered many international links in dental teeth at all and are wearing dentures,” she says. research. Caufield credits both with helping create the collaborative “Lower more than upper dentures tend to move arrangements that help make UAB’s dental research team so effective. all around and create problems for the wearers “The cooperation we enjoy with other professionals here at UAB is over time. So we’re replacing lower dentures incredible,” he says. “The center’s co-director, Dr. Sten Vermund, is an epi- with implants. All of the patients report a demiologist who works in the area of geographic medicine and infectious tremendously improved sense of well-being and disease.The center includes dentists, epidemiologists, and molecular biol- self-esteem with the implants than they’d had ogists.The atmosphere of collaboration we have at UAB is more intense with the dentures alone. than what’s found at other schools such as Harvard and Case Western, “That’s one of the things that’s most appealing and I give Dr. Joe Volker much of the credit for that. He was a dentist about dentistry,” says Jeffcoat. “Not only can you who didn’t want UAB to have two groups of scientists—one for medicine contribute to people’s general health, but you and another for dentistry—but a community that works together.” can also help them smile again and feel good about themselves in the process.” Contact 7
  10. 10. International Interests CONTACT WITH other cul- Exchange tures can change the way a person sees the world. Not only can it lead to an expanded sense of perspective, but Programs also to greater tolerance for people’s differences. That’s what dental faculty and students at UAB Reciprocal Relationship Initiate Ideas gain by participating in the school’s long-stand- Steven Filler, D.D.S., who serves as assistant dean ing foreign exchange program. for student, alumni, and external affairs, organized the most recent student/faculty exchange between Rate of Exchange UAB and Japan. Ten students and two faculty Beginning with an alliance with the University members from Japan’s Asahi and Meikai univer- of Iceland’s Department of Odontology that was sities visited the dental school in August. They established by founding Dean Joseph Volker, were assigned “hosts” who acted as guides and D.D.S, the School of Dentistry has established a even interpreters during their week-long stay. tradition of creating relationships with other “The primary focus was on dentistry,” Filler dental teaching institutions around the globe. says, “to show them the programs we have in place Charles McCallum, D.M.D., Dean Emeritus of and what kind of teaching goes on here. We also the dental school and former UAB president, wanted them to see our patients, the types of supported and expanded on those relationships, materials we use, the kind of research we do, and which now include exchange programs with how the students interact with the faculty.” countries such as Thailand, Germany, Italy, Filler says what the Japanese students find Saudi Arabia, France, Guatemala, Taiwan, most striking is the American students’ involve- CHARLES MCCALLUM, RIGHT, Russia, Korea, Brazil, China, and Japan. ment in treating patients. The Japanese students IS A LONGTIME ADVOCATE OF “We’ve had a tremendous number of people train for clinical treatment by observing faculty INTERNATIONAL STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMS. visit us from universities located in these coun- and working on models. “This is obviously a for- tries, and that has created a wonderful personal eign concept to us since we want our students to and cultural exchange for everyone involved,” be proficient at seeing patients long before they says McCallum, who was recently named mayor graduate,” Filler says. of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, in a landslide elec- tion. “Dr. Volker initiated the idea of interna- Shared Concerns tional programs to broaden the horizons and vis- From their experience in Japan, Filler says the tas of the students who were here at the time.” UAB students took away a broader understand- It’s hard to overestimate the value of cultural ing of their profession. “We give them a fantas- exchange, says McCallum. “As you get a people- tic education here at UAB,” he says. “But part of to-people exchange with other nationalities, you being a professional is to have a broader view of come to understand some of their problems and the world. Through interactions with other cul- issues, while they have the same opportunity to tures, we’ve all learned that, whether you’re in gain more respect for you,” he says. “I think some Birmingham or Japan, people are basically the of the world’s problems could be better solved same.” through university exchanges than through gov- Filler says the dental school gains a great ernments. If you give people from other countries deal from the relationship. “The way you the chance to visit and train and be educated become second-rate is to remain within your here in the United States, then they gain an own environment and just rehash the same old BY REBECCA appreciation for this country they will carry things,” he says. “But reaching out and continu- MCCRACKEN home with them on their return.” ing to learn keeps you on the cutting edge.” 8 Contact
  11. 11. Comparing the Curriculum Dental Differences in the U.S. and Japan AS A NATIVE OF JAPAN who has spent the majority of his professional life in the United States, Shiro Suzuki, D.D.S., Ph.D., is quite famil- iar with the two countries’ systems of dental edu- cation and patient care. A professor of biomate- rials, Suzuki also has played a significant role in fostering ties between a number of Japanese uni- here in the dental school’s clinics, we’re able to STEVEN FILLER, LEFT, AND SHIRO SUZUKI versities and the School of Dentistry at UAB. give our students a tremendous amount of direct SUPPORT ACTIVE “One of the things that’s always interested me experience before they graduate.” RELATIONSHIPS is the different approaches dental programs take BETWEEN UAB AND UNIVERSITIES IN in terms of clinical treatment, patient care, and the Experience Is a Must COUNTRIES SUCH general philosophy of the profession,” he says. This limited clinical experience has become a AS JAPAN. problem in recent years, according to Suzuki. In Culture and Curriculum the past, after students had graduated from den- Since joining UAB more than a decade ago, tal school, they were licensed to practice the Suzuki has served as a visiting professor and profession but had no idea how to provide actu- guest lecturer at Nihon and Fujita Health uni- al patient care. To address this issue, Japanese versities, both in Japan, where he presents on a institutions now mandate that dental graduates variety of topics, including biomaterials must complete a year of clinical experience research. One of his most popular lectures, how- before they can begin practicing on their own. ever, is one comparing the American and Suzuki is also concerned about the way Japanese dental systems. Japanese dental faculty conduct their research. Suzuki says the major difference is a result “The only opportunity that most of them have of the insurance program that affects all Japanese to pursue their research is after five o’clock, once practitioners. “Japanese dentistry is based on a their teaching responsibilities are done,” Suzuki national insurance system,” he says. “A dental says. The second major obstacle is the language school’s faculty will always try to teach a variety barrier. “That’s why I encourage Japanese adminis- of techniques, but instructors, students, and prac- trators to give their faculty more time for research ticing dentists must adhere to the national health and to help them develop the skills they need to insurance policies.” For that reason, the treat- spread the word of their discoveries.” ment plan a clinician may consider best isn’t nec- essarily the one that’s approved by the system. Shared Satisfaction Another difference between the two pro- Despite these different approaches in training, grams is that Japanese students get very little practice, and research, Suzuki says the ultimate hands-on clinical experience. “The Japanese goals of any dental practitioner are the same. believe that students must practice on models “No matter where I go, whether it’s in Germany, for a very long time before they will be prepared Japan, or somewhere in the United States, I find to treat a patient, so they don’t receive a lot of that we’re trying to accomplish the same thing— clinical experience while they’re training,” says patient satisfaction through quality care,” he says. Suzuki. “But it’s the exact opposite in the United “And if the patient is happy, then the dentist is BY REBECCA States. With the thousands of patients we see happy.” MCCRACKEN Contact 9
  12. 12. Resinous Restorations New Materials Mean Better Esthetics IN THE FIELD OF INDIRECT compos- “You can’t imagine the effect that having ite resins, belleGlass HP is the most a new smile can have on people, and it’s exciting new product currently available, a pleasure to see the excitement students according to Jean O’Neal, D.M.D., chair feel when they know they’ve been a part of the Department of Prosthodontics and of that process. I am very fortunate to Biomaterials in the School of Dentistry have found a profession I love so much at UAB. and to have the opportunity to share my “This is a material that can be used as expertise with my students.” a white filling and also has excellent wear O’Neal says she has seen an explo- characteristics and esthetic properties,” sion of new techniques and materials in says O’Neal. “It can also be used in cer- recent years. Remarkable advances have tain places instead of a crown.” been made in bonding biomaterials to UAB was instrumental in testing this teeth, and exciting new restorative pro- heat- and pressure-cured composite, cedures also have also been developed. which was developed by Kerr, a sub- Through her relationship with Kerr NEW COMPOSITE RESINS TESTED sidiary of Sybron Dental Specialties. and other industries that support bioma- ATUAB ARE WEAR RESISTANT AND ESTHETICALLY PLEASING. O’Neal and a team of researchers includ- terials research, O’Neal is able not only ing Karl Lienfelder, D.M.D., and Charles to be involved in developing exciting Cox, D.M.D., developed a clinical trial new materials, but also to share the latest ments we could not even have imagined to evaluate the material. The trial, which advancements with her students and just 10 years ago,” says O’Neal. “This is a involved testing the material in vivo over patients. “These new techniques and really good time to be practicing den- the course of five years, was the longest- materials allow us to offer patients treat- tistry.” By Ella Robinson running evaluation in the history of com- posite resins. The innovative material has several advantages for both the patient and the dentist, O’Neal says. “It’s not as abrasive Exceptional as porcelain to opposing dentition, and it also has the advantage of being fabricated outside the mouth, which decreases the chair time and problems associated with Opportunities shrinkage from polymerization,” she says. Students Play Role in NIH Research O’Neal’s UAB roots run deep. She earned her D.M.D. degree from the FOR SEASONED DENTAL profession- Institute of Dental and Craniofacial School of Dentistry and completed a res- als, any affiliation with the world- Research (NIDCR). Working with dental idency in prosthodontics in 1980 before renowned National Institutes of Health researchers and scientists, they got the joining the school’s faculty. In addition to (NIH) is a heady experience. For stu- chance to view the laboratory side of serving as professor and department dents, it’s almost unimaginable—espe- dentistry and to participate in valuable chair, she lectures extensively on esthet- cially as part of a research program research projects. ics and ceramic restorations—her prima- involving only 10 students from across Firoz Rahemtulla, Ph.D., a professor ry research interest. the country. But that’s exactly what hap- of biomaterials who works closely with Beyond the excitement of helping pened to two students from the School of the school’s student research program, bring valuable new materials to market, Dentistry this past summer when they says that the students’ selection says a lot O’Neal says she appreciates the differ- were invited to NIH headquarters as part about them as well as the school. “Several ence they make in people’s lives. “As of a special research program. years ago, the NIDCR initiated this much as I enjoy teaching enthusiastic David Roden and Nathan Redmond, intramural program to allow dental stu- young people in an academic environ- both juniors at the time, participated in dents to gain firsthand research experi- ment, I’m especially excited by the the program through the NIH’s National ence working with some of the top sci- opportunity to try new things,” she says. 10 Contact
  13. 13. Aqueous Solutions Banishing Bacteria by Purging the Pipes QUICK—make a connection between because we make a point of including gardening and dentistry. Specialized tools? that in their training.” Splashing fountains? Close, but not the Recent segments on television news answer, says Michael Reddy, D.M.D., programs such as “20/20” have led to professor of periodontology and assistant increased awareness of water-line purity dean for clinical activity and planning in in the general populace, however. “The TV the School of Dentistry at UAB. folks focused on the question of whether “It’s called ‘biofilm,’ and it’s the same the water is safe for anyone,” says Reddy, IN-LINE RESERVOIRS ALLOW TECHNICIANS TO ATTACK BACTERIA IN WATER LINES. thing that happens with water that’s left “but the real concern is with patients who standing in a garden hose, because bacte- might be immunocompromised. ria will breed wherever there’s stagnant “If the average person is exposed to that they are in good working order,” he water,” he says. “There’s the same prob- bacteria in water lines, it probably won’t says, “and the municipal water supply is lem in public drinking fountains—and of have any effect at all,” he says. “But if relatively clean. But we have plans to course in the lines of a dental chair.” your patient is someone who is HIV pos- make sure the water we use in our clinics Not that the idea of keeping the itive or who recently had a liver trans- tests even cleaner than city water.” lines clean is a new one, says Reddy. plant and is on immunosuppressant According to Reddy, the standard “There have always been policies in place drugs, then you could really create a for water quality is based on counting here in the dental school, such as running problem by exposing them to bacteria.” “colony-forming units,” or the number of water through the handpiece and flush- Reddy says the school’s water sys- bacteria that will grow when a petri dish ing out the lines between patients,” he tem—and the quality of the city’s is exposed to water. “The standard for says. “That might seem like common water—is already in good shape. “We’ve drinking water is 500 units. In fact, that’s sense to many dentists, but that’s partly had our water lines checked and know what you’ll probably get in the bottled water you buy at the store,” he says. “Our goal is to get the school’s water down to a level of 200, which is the same standard entists in the field,” he says. “Only 10 stu- research every day,” he says. “We spent that’s used for dialysis units.” dents are chosen each summer, and the time in the library, took a private tour of The school is working to achieve competition to get in is pretty heavy. the National Academy of Science, and this goal by flushing each examination Both David and Nathan were at the top had lunch meetings in which we were chair with a safe chemical solution once of the selection list, which adds to the given reports about the NIH’s research a week. The new chairs—designed by A- honor of being chosen in the first place.” activities. It was exciting to be in a place Dec—have a special feature that con- Roden, who was involved in gene where so much discovery is going on.” nects a bottle to the water line. “This therapy research, says that he found the Roden says that, although his prima- allows us to attach the bottles containing experience to be invaluable. Soon after ry focus so far has been on serving the solution to each chair once a week,” arriving in Washington, D.C., last June, patients in a clinical setting, he now has he says. “Then we draw the solution into he began working with a scientist to a newfound appreciation for research. the chair’s water lines and let it sit identify the gene that causes cranial defi- “Even though I plan to work in private overnight. A dental assistant will drain ciencies. At the program’s completion, he practice, I would also like to be involved the chairs in the morning and flush the presented his findings to the American at the research level,” he says. “When we lines with fresh water. Association of Dental Research and will go into dentistry, we do it because we “This feature was only made avail- soon publish them in a research paper. want to help people, and research is a able recently,” says Reddy. “It was part of Lab work was just one of the benefits great way to do that. our decision when we were looking for of attending the program, according to “Our school has a wonderful reputa- new chairs, in fact. Not only do we want Roden. It was also a great opportunity to tion at the NIH,” Roden adds. “People the best equipment for the benefit of our make contacts, meet new friends, and to were always excited to hear that I was patients, but we also want to be sure our learn more about the exciting work being attending the School of Dentistry at students will receive the best possible done at the NIH. “It’s a wonderful pro- UAB.” training available.” gram in that it’s not just about doing lab By Cheryl Sloan Wray By Russ Willcutt Contact 11
  14. 14. Addressing the also responds to aviation disasters when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Aftermath asks for help. Weems says the bulk of DMORT’s work involves aviation. “After the Valujet and TWA plane crashes several years ago, Congress pushed the NTSB to respond to any plane crash,” says Weems, who is THEY SEEM TO BE featured on the evening an associate professor of diagnostic sciences and Dentistry newscasts quite regularly—stories of natural dis- asters and transportation accidents. Floods, tor- director of student and alumni affairs in the School of Dentistry. Dentists are invaluable to disaster recovery Central to nadoes, airplane crashes, and other disasters claim thousands of victims each year. And it’s also a and victim recognition, he says, since dental x- fact that someone has to manage the mayhem. rays can help identify burned or skeletonized Disaster As a member of the Disaster Mortuary remains. He says his training in forensic den- Operational Support Team (DMORT), Richard tistry makes him especially capable in this area. Response Weems, D.M.D., fills that role. Whether it’s a “Quite often there’s only a tiny amount of train wreck, a car crash, or the aftermath of a dental remains left to be examined,” he says, “but force-five tornado, he lends his professional I’ve been able to make several identifications expertise to assist in the recovery and identifica- based on a single recovered tooth.” tion of the victims of disaster. Seeking Support for DMORT Team Approach Weems’s concern for disaster victims didn’t Working under the auspices of the National begin when he was named to the DMORT team Disaster Medical System, the DMORT team last April. Some years ago, he and Mario members represent such fields as forensic den- Martinez, D.M.D., a retired UAB dentistry pro- tistry, medical pathology, and forensic anthro- fessor, organized a dental identification team to pology. The team is charged with responding to handle local disaster situations. Though it’s been such crises in Region 4—the area consisting of hard to secure adequate funding to train mem- BY CHERYL Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, bers over the years, Weems hopes that his work SLOAN WRAY Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. It with DMORT can help bring about a change. “I applied for this position partly in hopes of blending our local volunteer personnel with the federal system in case a mass disaster should occur here,” he says. Unfortunately, Weems has already experi- enced two local disasters. He helped identify victims of the L’Air Express air crash in west Birmingham, and also victims of the force-five tornado that struck Oak Grove, Alabama, and surrounding areas in 1998. Such work can be agonizing. “Although we’re concentrating on the task at hand, the devastation we witness can be quite troubling.” No Lack of Interest In an attempt to educate more dental profes- sionals about DMORT as well as other aspects of forensic dentistry, Weems shares his experi- ence and expertise through continuing educa- tion courses. FORENSIC DENTISTRY EXPERT RICHARD WEEMS, AT LEFT, IS A MEMBER OF THE “I’m pleased to say that, after nearly every DISASTER MORTUARY OPERATIONAL RESPONSE TEAM (DMORT). session, people approach me to ask how they can volunteer or become involved.” 12 Contact
  15. 15. Athletic Assıstance Students Support Special Olympics AT THE ALABAMA SPECIAL OLYMPICS held in Tuscaloosa last May, everyone was a winner— and not just the 1,500 Special Olympians who competed. More than 50 faculty and students from the School of Dentistry at UAB attended, providing dental instruction and assistance for these very special athletes as part of the “Special Smiles” program. “We made custom mouthguards for the competitors, gave them visual oral exams, coached them on proper brushing and flossing, scored them on their oral home care, and rewarded them with ‘healthy’ goody bags,” says Elizabeth Clemente, D.M.D. “We even helped She also notes that Special Smiles gives STUDENTS IN THE referee an athletic event or two.” UAB SCHOOL OF first-year students their first opportunity to deal DENTISTRY HAVE A A Special Situation with patients in a clinical setting. In addition to LONG HISTORY OF According to Clemente, an assistant professor of gaining invaluable experience, they also enjoy SUPPORTING THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS. restorative dentistry and coordinator of the being treated like doctors for the first time— Advanced Education in General Dentistry pro- “and they have a lot of fun.” gram, this was the third year of the school’s involvement in the event. She points out that Dental Data Special Smiles is the first opportunity many of An added bonus to the personal experience is the dental students and practitioners have had to the clinical data gleaned from the screening work with special-needs individuals. “One of my exams the School of Dentistry volunteers con- goals in starting this community service project duct as part of the event. According to Maureen was to take away the myths about treating L. Pezzementi, D.M.D., assistant professor of patients such as these,” she explains. “Many den- restorative dentistry, the data collected during tists don’t feel comfortable dealing with special- the 1999 Alabama Special Olympics indicated needs people. I wanted to help train a new gen- that the dental needs of the state’s special ath- eration of dentists who are familiar with them letes are not being met. “Alabama’s Special and have no qualms about handling the different Olympians are 1.5 times more likely to have oral issues special-needs patients can present.” active tooth decay, 1.7 times more likely to have Clemente says the experience was a good molar decay, and 2.5 times more likely to have one for herself and for the students, as well: “I ‘urgent care needs’ than the average national can’t say enough about how great our students Special Olympian,” she says. Pezzementi are in working with the Special Olympians. Not explains that this information may be used to only do they volunteer their time for Special obtain federally funded insurance coverage for Smiles, but they also have to come to a training special-needs people so that they can get the session before they can participate in the event. dental care they need. BY NORMA I show them a videotape to prepare them for To help support Special Smiles, please con- BUTTERWORTH- dealing with special-needs people.” tact Pezzementi at (205) 975-0899. MCKITTRICK Contact 13
  16. 16. Faculty Focus the morning, and he often doesn’t leave until eight o’clock at night—or later.” Louis estimates that he spends about Patrick Louis half of his time teaching and the remain- der in surgery. His clinical practice is as varied as his teaching regimen, including The Student’s Surgeon trauma, orthognathics, implants, cosmet- ics, and dentoalveolar dentistry. He says teaching makes him a better surgeon. “We’re here to give the patients our GOOD TEACHING is about more than surgeons tell you what to do, but they best effort, and I try to demonstrate the best simply giving instructions. To keep the don’t always tell you why. Dr. Louis takes way to do that to my students,” he says. student’s attention, the successful educa- the time to explain his reasoning.” “I also use pictures from my cases in class, tor must possess a rare combination of As course master for a variety of so it’s a very positive circle—my surgical professional knowledge and communica- classes, Louis is responsible for organiz- practice influences my teaching, and tion skills. According to his students and ing lecture content, calling on experts in teaching also influences my practice.” colleagues, Patrick Louis, D.D.S.—an specialized areas to share their experi- Louis adjusts his approach to the associate professor of oral and maxillofa- ences, and teaching many of the classes level of the class he’s teaching. “Quite cial surgery—is just that type of teacher. himself. He also serves as director of the often, undergraduate students have so “Being a good surgeon doesn’t residency program in the Department of many classes that they’re struggling just always mean that you’re a good teacher, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. to get through them,” he says, “but the too,” says Chris Mullenix, D.M.D., a “He’s not an eight-to-five teacher, residents are easier to motivate. They’re fifth-year surgical resident who has that’s for sure,” says Will West, D.M.D., a in your class because they’ve selected known Louis for the past decade. “Some sixth-year resident. “He’s here at six in your specialty.” Raquel Mazer From South America to the School of Dentistry GROWING UP in São Paulo, Brazil, to the research bench instead of the In 1986 she took advantage of an Raquel Mazer, D.D.S., was surrounded examination chair. opportunity to study under Karl Leinfelder, by dentistry. “I have several relatives who Even while attending the University D.M.D, who is now retired from the are or were dentists, including aunts, of São Paulo, where she received her Department of Biomaterials. “I had decided uncles, and cousins,” says Mazer. “Even dental degree in 1983, Mazer felt the that I wanted to concentrate my efforts my great uncle was a dentist. That’s why influence of the United States. “The cur- in the area of cosmetic restorative mate- I’ve always been fascinated by the metic- riculum we followed was based on the rials, and Dr. Leinfelder was the leading ulous work involved in providing dental ‘American’ model, so I had the opportu- authority in that field,” says Mazer. “I also care.” Although her relatives had some nity to experiment with materials and based my decision on the fact that UAB influence on her decision to pursue den- experience a variety of techniques that had an outstanding record of carrying tistry as a career, she found herself drawn are utilized here at UAB,” she explains. out major clinical research studies and 14 Contact
  17. 17. Faculty Focus Louis grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana, where he attended the Uni- versity of Southwestern Louisiana before Thomas entering the dental school at Louisiana State University. After earning his Weatherford D.D.S. degree from LSU in 1984, he served a general practice residency at Trading Pets UAB and then entered the oral surgery program. Louis earned an M.D. degree in for Periodontics 1988 and his certificate in oral and max- illofacial surgery in 1990. He has been at UAB ever since, and he now serves on GROWING UP on his family’s farm, Once his tour was complete, he decided several university committees and as an Tommy Weatherford, D.M.D., under- to take advantage of the GI Bill to pursue examiner for the American Board of Oral standably thought he might enjoy a his dream of treating people. He applied and Maxillofacial Surgeons. career in veterinary medicine. During his to the School of Dentistry at UAB, was “I came to UAB because of people like sophomore year at Auburn, however, he accepted, and began his studies in the fall Victor Matukas and Charles McCallum, realized that he was more interested in of 1957. who were real trendsetters in the field,” humans than horses. “My dad was paying “My wife, Buddie, and I had gotten says Louis. “And I’ve stayed because of the bills, though, so I thought I’d better married the week before classes started, the vision of the current chair, Peter Waite. finish what I’d already started,” he says and we had planned to spend four years Because of these men, many consider this with a smile. in Birmingham and then move to a nice to be the best oral and maxillofacial After earning his degree from little town we’d picked out in north Florida,” surgery program in the country.” Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine he recalls. “But Dr. Joseph Volker, who By Sandra Bearden in 1954, Weatherford joined the U.S. was dean at the time, asked me to join the Army and served during the Korean War. faculty once I’d graduated, and he was a very persuasive man. To make a long story short, we’ve been here ever since.” was the leader in discovering esthetic agents. Through the comparison of dif- Before taking on his teaching respon- materials to replace the dental amalgam.” ferent systems—different light-curing sibilities, Weatherford spent a year study- During her first year at UAB, Mazer modes to enhance performance of com- ing pathology and pediatric dentistry at received an international scholarship posite resins—she evaluates the materi- UAB on a National Institutes of Health from the Rotary Foundation and was als’ performance and refines techniques fellowship before completing his residency accepted into the graduate program, for their use. She is also exploring the use in periodontics—the specialty he has eventually being elected to the National of air-abrasion devices for dental cavity taught for the past 40 years in the dental Dental Honor Society. She received a mas- preparation and as an adjunct adhesive school. He was director of the residency ter’s degree in dentistry in 1988—working treatment for esthetic materials. program for 20 years, also seeing patients as a Rotary International Graduate Scholar Mazer says she enjoys academic in the faculty intramural practice. from 1986 to 1987—and her D.M.D. dentistry and being involved in making Although his long-term plans didn’t degree in 1996. During that time, in 1991, important discoveries related to esthetic originally include Birmingham—or even Mazer received her Master of Public materials. She plans to broaden her dentistry, in a way—Weatherford says Health degree from Johns Hopkins research to include the utilization of den- that he’s glad things have worked out as University. She now serves as the direc- tal lasers for oral-health care. “I’ve recent- they have. “I’ve had opportunities to move tor of operative dentistry at UAB. ly received an Educational Foundation elsewhere over the years, but whenever In addition to her administrative and Grant that will allow us to purchase an I’ve gotten a job offer, I’ve made a list of teaching duties, Mazer is faculty repre- Er: YAG dental laser,” she says. “Having the pluses and the minuses,” he says, “and sentative for the Phi Phi Chapter of the that type of cutting-edge equipment on the pluses at UAB always greatly exceed- Omicron Kappa Upsilon. She is also hand will be invaluable for training stu- ed those elsewhere.” involved in clinical research, testing dents, faculty, and other dental profes- By Norma Butterworth-McKittrick composite resin materials and adhesive sionals, as well.” By Ella Robinson Contact 15
  18. 18. Student Spotlight Chrisy Priscila Denny Congo and The Academic Emigré Sunil Philip WHEN PRISCILA DENNY traveled from Brazil to visit the UAB campus Going for Broke at UAB six years ago, she never imagined that Southern—culture. In order to accli- FOR MANY DENTAL STUDENTS, the she would soon be enrolled as a stu- mate herself, she turned to television, biggest challenge in training lies in mas- dent here. She was happy studying watching the game show “Jeopardy” as tering the eye-to-hand coordination the dentistry in her home country and had often as twice a day to speed her profession requires. It’s tough enough to only come to the United States to see acquisition of the language. begin with, but add a broken arm to the an uncle who was participating in a “I probably learned most of what I equation and you’ve got the makings of a fellowship on campus. know about the English language, pretty frustrating experience. Just ask stu- “I spent time meeting members of English literature, and other facts dents Sunil Philip and Chrisy Congo, the dental faculty and taking pictures about the United States from watch- who endured that very challenge during of the campus,” Denny recalls, “but I ing ‘Jeopardy,’” she says with a laugh. their preclinical training. never dreamed that I’d be back at UAB “Say what you will, but it was very use- Although the two “fell” into their sit- in less than a year.” ful to me.” uations quite differently—Philip while Fate intervened, however, when she An interesting result was her hus- playing football with his classmates and met Gregory Denny, a local attorney, band’s growing interest in game-show Congo on a Christmas ski trip—both and soon found herself with a strong competition, which eventually resulted desire to relocate to Birmingham to in his appearance on his wife’s favorite complete her dental studies. The cou- show. Winning a slot on “Jeopardy” only ple were married in October of 1994. Today, Denny is a senior honor fueled Gregory Denny’s competitive fires, and he went on to appear on the Matt Brewer student with plans to become an wildly popular “Who Wants to Be a orthodontist after she completes her studies in May. When she first trans- Millionaire?” during its inaugural week. Apart from American culture in It’s All in the Delivery ferred to UAB, however, graduation general, Denny also found university IF YOU NEED a walking definition of seemed a million years away. None of life to be very different from that of the word variety, just take a walk with the credits she had already compiled her home. In Brazil, she says, college is Matt Brewer. In his third year of study in in Brazil transferred to the United free for students who qualify academi- the School of Dentistry, he’s also prepar- States, and Denny was informed that cally. Her family questioned her deci- ing for his third career. she would be required to start over sion to give up such an offer. After graduating from Georgia Tech again as a college student. Instead of “They thought I was crazy when I with a degree in electrical engineering in being defeated, she got busy, complet- told them I was moving here,” she 1988, he took a job with a company ing her undergraduate degree in two says. “They couldn’t believe that I known as Cross Systems before moving years. She then took and passed the would give up a free education. But on to a position with AT&T. In 1990, DAT and embarked once again on the now they are all very happy. however, his brother John approached study of dentistry. “UAB is very different from the him with an offer he simply couldn’t On her arrival in the United schools in Brazil,” she says. “I feel like refuse. “John wanted us to form a part- States, Denny found herself faced with I am learning much more here than I nership to start a chain of Steak-Out a major transition and much to learn in did back home.” restaurants,” Brewer says, referring to the terms of American—and especially By Cheryl Sloan Wray now-familiar steak delivery service that is based in Norcross, Georgia. “None were 16 Contact