Author Archives: sshuhert

Pacific Takes Center Stage at San Francisco Economic and Workforce Summit

Provost Maria Pallavicini represented University of the Pacific on June 6 at UpdateSF 2017, the rebranded economic forecast and jobs forum in San Francisco. The event drew a sold-out crowd of more than 250 leaders from business, health care, education, public policy and more. Pacific’s presence offered a significant opportunity to raise the University’s visibility with Bay Area leaders.

Provost Pallavicini opened the event with remarks on the importance of an educated and prepared workforce and moderated a panel discussion with Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner and LinkedIn’s Head of U.S. Public Policy Nicole Isaac, looking at the region’s economic trends and workforce needs in light of education, public policy and politics.

In her remarks, Provost Pallavicini discussed how Pacific is working to meet the workforce needs of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Northern California region through its programs on all three campuses.

Vitner spoke on the latest economic trends and Isaac discussed how using data can help us adapt to changes in the global workforce. SF Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tallia Hart also discussed how the SF Chamber and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development work to strengthen the economy of San Francisco. In her remarks, Provost Pallavicini discussed how Pacific is working to meet the workforce needs of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Northern California region through its programs on all three campuses.

Several other Pacific representatives from various programs across the University were in attendance, including Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, dean of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, and Dr. Richard Fredekind, executive associate dean.

Frank A. Brucia ’44A | From the Heart

At the 118th Annual Alumni Meeting in March 2017, Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94 announced the creation of the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Loyalty Society. “In recognition of Dr. Brucia’s 50 consecutive years of philanthropy, we are creating this donor society in his honor to acknowledge consistent giving to the dental school,” Nadershahi told attendees at the plenary session. “It is a fitting way,” he continued, “to observe Frank’s 100th birthday. He has given to our school every year consecutively for half of his lifetime.”

Alumnus Frank A. Brucia ’44A is glad to share a lifetime of learning experiences with the Dugoni School of Dentistry family. It might be a little lesson in the Italian language or what makes a great cup of espresso (dark and sweet). You might hear what makes a great dental practice or learn about consistency in philanthropy. He may also tell you about his happy 69-year marriage to his late wife, Helen. Brucia, at 100 years of age, speaks from experience and from the heart.

A first-generation American, Brucia was born in San Francisco on March 23, 1917 to an Italian family who had moved to the West Coast for business in wine and olives, and to contribute to the founding of the San Francisco Opera. He wanted to be a chemist. Even as a student at Galileo High School, he enlisted his friends to sign up for a summer course in chemistry at University of San Francisco; he remembers how the kind nuns brought them cookies and how much he enjoyed chemistry. His father suggested, however, that he was better suited for an occupation where he could be self-employed. After graduating from University of California, Berkeley, Brucia tried dentistry by attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry).

“He has given to our school every year consecutively for half of his lifetime.”

“I didn’t love dentistry at first,” Brucia reveals, “but the more I practiced, the more positive I became and then I saw it as a beautiful profession.” With World War II in progress, upon graduation in 1944, he and his classmates were inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps as first lieutenants—the war effort needed dentists. Brucia was eventually sent to Florida, where he met his future wife, Helen Marie, a dental assistant from North Carolina. When his war adventures took him overseas, he was doing prosthodontics for the U.S. military in Japan, an assignment he was told “did not exist on paper” (translation: no funding) in a tiny, ill-equipped lab and a jeep that also “did not exist on paper.” The war ended; Brucia was discharged and married his sweetheart Helen at the Presidio in San Francisco. Three children, Kristina (Davis), Ric Brucia and Dr. Jeff Brucia ’88, followed.

The early days, however, were not easy, as Brucia delights in recounting. When he and Helen began planning and setting up his private practice in the Dante Building at 1606 Stockton Street in North Beach, it was difficult to make ends meet. In fact, he reports that for the month of November 1946, his practice earned a mere $6.50. He couldn’t make the rent. He went on the road with a mobile dental unit, treating the children who lived in migrant worker camps in the Sacramento Valley. He enjoyed the work and paid the bills, while Helen was setting up appointments and expanding the practice back at the office.

“I didn’t love dentistry at first,” Brucia reveals, “but the more I practiced, the more positive I became and then I saw it as a beautiful profession.”

As Brucia’s dental practice began to thrive, as it does to this day under the guidance of his son Jeff, he became more and more involved in prominent dental organizations, most notably the California Dental Association (CDA) and the San Francisco Dental Society (SFDS). In April, the SFDS dedicated the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Meeting Room, honoring him as a former board member, president, trustee and delegate to CDA, as well as substantially contributing to the acquisition, set-up and remodeling of the building that the SFDS calls home.

Brucia began his relationship with the Dugoni School of Dentistry, then known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons, 77 years ago. His support for the dental school has been amply demonstrated over the years by his donations of time, talent and treasure, earning him the Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Medallion of Distinction in 2000. In addition to giving to the Dugoni School consecutively for 50 years, he unequivocally loved interviewing prospective students as a member of the Admissions Committee and continued to do so as a retiree until it became too difficult to hear well enough. The decibel levels of older dental drills and other equipment Brucia used back in the day had taken their toll.

What words of wisdom or lessons does Brucia have to share as a centenarian? He laughingly says, “Always have 25% children as your patients. It perpetuates your practice and you can send the challenging patients to a pediatric specialist.” It also ensured that dozens of grateful former patients were around to appreciate and recognize their beloved Dr. Brucia with cards and notes on his 100th birthday. On a more serious note, Brucia iterates what he has told generations of students, “Don’t limit yourself to the curriculum. Go beyond the requirements.” His ideal is to “pursue perfection, and then you’ll achieve excellence. Always chase something beyond your reach.”

Brucia is supremely modest about his history, saying “I was not a super dentist, but I achieved the maximum I could with my skills, and always tried to do more.” To look at his many contributions as a dental professional, a business leader, a father and husband, Brucia has more than achieved excellence.

The basis of donor recognition in the Dr. Frank Brucia Loyalty Society is 10 consecutive years of giving to the Dugoni School of Dentistry and $50,000 lifetime total giving. Associate Dean for Development Jeff Rhode explains, “We want to recognize our alumni and friends who have given generously and faithfully over time as well as a lifetime of giving, and Dr. Frank Brucia has provided a shining example of how that can build over 50 years of philanthropy.”

If you would like information about membership in the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Loyalty Society, please contact Anita Ayers, manager of the Annual Fund, at or 415.929.6402.

Planning for the Future of Dental Education

By Dr. Elisa M. ChÁvez Luna

Even the most forward-thinking, outward-facing institution needs to periodically take the time to reflect. As the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry maps its new strategic plan to Transform the Future of Dental Education, we reached out to several leaders in organized dentistry and academia to get their perspectives on where we have been and where we are headed as an educational institution and as a profession. Certain themes surfaced, including changing demographics, ongoing disparities in health care, new expectations for dental education, access to dental care and changing models of practice, reimbursement and the value of oral health care.

What has been the biggest challenge to dental education in the last 20 years?

We asked Dr. Mike Alfano, president and founding member of The Santa Fe Group and dean emeritus of New York University School of Dentistry, for his perspective on the biggest challenge to dental education in the last 20 years. Although difficult to choose just one, Alfano pointed to the limited success of recruiting a diverse group of dental students. “We are not much better off in the diversity of underrepresented minorities.” Disparities in oral heath tell us that certain groups and populations of people have more unmet needs than others and often these same groups are also underrepresented in the dental profession. This can create a barrier to care in some communities and young people in these communities lack role models to follow into the profession.

Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry and Santa Fe Group member, agrees that this has been an issue and emphasized that continued awareness and effort is needed to recruit a more diverse faculty as well. He points to an up-and-coming diversified faculty workforce as one of the bright spots in the future of dental education. “The increasing diversity in all forms, including gender, ethnicity and previous experiences, will allow our nation’s faculty to provide the mentoring and leadership needed to inspire the next generation of oral healthcare providers as they create the innovative solutions in scholarship and teaching and learning environments that will keep our nation’s academic health institutions at the forefront among our global colleagues.” The Dugoni School of Dentistry is dedicated to the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty in order to bring innovative ideas and create new role models in leadership while attracting and inspiring a more diverse student body.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry is dedicated to the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty in order to bring innovative ideas and create new role models in leadership while attracting and inspiring a more diverse student body. — Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94

When we asked Dr. Rick Valachovic, president and CEO of the American Dental Education Association, for his pick as the biggest challenge to dental education in the last 20 years, he responded, “It has been finding our place in the broader worlds of higher education and the health professions…. and …a tradition of isolation from the academic health center and the university.” He continued, “Dentistry has discovered the roles that we can play as a learned profession in the academy. As a successful example, one needs to look no farther than the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and its strong relationship with the other schools and administration of University of the Pacific.”

Our strong relationship with our University can empower us to change paradigms in dental education and advance interprofessional collaboration beyond traditional realms of health care.

What changes in dentistry and health care will have the greatest impact on dental education?

Dean Nadershahi sees changing paradigms in health care, education and the role of dentistry as potentially having the greatest impact on dental education and the greatest potential impact on our school. “Increasing our understanding of the importance of oral health to overall health and well-being in all stages of life will continue to shift practice models, reimbursement models and educational systems. This will require the educational system at the Dugoni School to graduate leaders prepared to help move our profession into a new golden age of health where our graduates will be recognized and reimbursed for the great value they bring to person-centered and community-centered health.”

Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association, feels that it is imperative “to resolve once and for all the disconnect between promoting oral health as critical to overall health, as dental care is core to primary care.”

Students must be taught their role as team members and learn the roles of others to become a part of and to lead successful teams. — Marko Vujicic

In order to establish dentistry’s role in the broader health professions, we cannot teach students that oral health is a critical component of total health and wellness yet send graduates into practice with the idea that they may exist independently from the rest of the healthcare system. For those committed to private practice, their business and practice models must be developed to compete and collaborate with larger enterprises. Dentists who are prepared to reach into their respective healthcare communities and to function as an integral component of comprehensive health care will be critical to individual success and to our collective success in demonstrating that oral health is not an elective element in health and wellness.

Vujicic added, “If you want to train clinicians to become leaders of oral health teams, able to supervise other dentists, hygienists, collaborate with physicians and community health workers, but not necessarily tied to doing restorative dentistry all day, you have to rethink your curriculum.”

Students must be taught their role as team members and learn the roles of others to become a part of and to lead successful teams. This does not diminish the importance of excellent clinical skills for which Dugoni School of Dentistry has and will continue to be known. New practice models can free those who wish to focus on clinical skills. And importantly, practitioners with strong clinical skills and knowledge, combined with a broad foundation in medicine and experience in the provision of health care as part of a team will help shape standards for quality in dentistry and medicine.

Peter DuBois, executive director of the California Dental Association and Santa Fe Group member, said, “Dentistry tends to lag behind other medical disciplines in providing and measuring the quality of care received. As our healthcare system continues to change for both political and financial reasons, and dentistry is considered for integration with healthcare delivery systems, it is reasonable to assume that payers and patients/consumers will expect some uniform quality/outcomes metrics.”

Valachovic believes that dental schools can improve both the quality of care and education by evaluating the impact from technology, practice models and consumerism in dental school environments. The Dugoni School of Dentistry must prepare graduates to define and achieve outcomes in health and wellness in a broad healthcare environment.

Do you think the institutions in California have any opportunities or challenges that institutions in other areas in the country do not?

DuBois reflected on the opportunities and challenges specific to California institutions and how they could be leveraged to benefit our state and dental education. We are challenged by an expensive location and high cost of living. In addition, the cost of living adds to the total educational expense; and for those who wish to practice in urban areas, professional competition is intense. But our location and resources are still a draw to many people, and in particular to Millennials who are often drawn to urban areas.

“Fourteen million Californians—half of all children and a third of all adults—are eligible for care through the state’s Medicaid dental program, Denti-Cal,” said DuBois. “The recent approval of Proposition 56 is expected to help improve access to care through additional funding for the state’s office of oral health, restoring full adult Denti-Cal benefits and increasing provider reimbursement rates. By serving California’s Denti-Cal population, dental school students can hone their clinical skills and gain an improved understanding of the unique needs required of this population while providing much-needed dental care.”

Fourteen million Californians—half of all children and a third of adults—are eligible for care through the state’s Medicaid dental program, Denti-Cal.
— Peter DuBois

Alfano views access to affordable dental care as one of the biggest challenges to our profession and society over the last 20 years and believes we have a long way to go. Nadershahi believes having six strong dental programs in our state represents an opportunity for the deans and academic leaders to share ideas and resources and leverage their positive partnerships with the California Dental Association to improve education and access to care as an opportunity. “By working collaboratively, we can address the major issue of the rising costs of delivering high quality education for our students and care to the underserved in our communities,” said Nadershahi.

What are the three most important things we can do as an institution, right now, to prepare ourselves for the future?

Dr. Cindy Lyon ’86, associate dean for Oral Health Education at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, explained that she has a vision for the Dugoni School’s educational program which includes: 1) moving from mechanically based to biologically based therapies; 2) teaching our students how to work in an interprofessional, collaborative environment; and 3) stressing the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values and problem-solving abilities in equal measure. Additionally, Lyon and several leaders suggested that providing alternative learning formats such as small groups, online learning and experiences that model success in collaborative environments are needed. Many respondents noted the importance of recognizing that the interests, views and expectations of new generations are different from those of generations that came before. We need to provide them with the support and the skills they will need to negotiate a rapidly changing and increasingly integrated healthcare environment with integrity and excellence.

While we address internal pedagogy and culture, we must also have the courage to address external influences and forces. Nadershahi believes we must foster closer bonds and working relationships between all stakeholders focusing on oral health including but not limited to our profession, education, licensing bodies, legislators, funders, community partners and others. He also believes we should define the most important outcomes measures to assess the value we bring to a person’s and population’s health and clearly define the role and value of oral health as a critical lead in the overall health of our communities and healthcare delivery models.

What can the Dugoni School of Dentistry offer to the future of dental education that others cannot?

This final question was posed to Dean Nadershahi. “The Dugoni School has a rich history of creating a humanistic culture and learner-centered educational models. This focus and history will help lead the changes necessary for the future of oral health education and newly evolving collaborative care models.”

The Dugoni School of Dentistry experience, preparation and expectation to apply a humanistic approach in practice and leadership can give our graduates an advantage in any practice model. Our purpose at the Dugoni School is to help people lead healthy lives and with that in mind, we can’t wait for the future as our future is now.

Dr. Elisa M. Chávez Luna is an associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences and serves as chair of the Strategic Planning Oversight Committee.

Our Living Legacy

Legacy can be defined as something handed down from one generation to another. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

At the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, we see legacy in action every day as faculty and staff work with students to pass along time-tested techniques and as they also discover new knowledge through research and best practices.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Contact Point, which includes articles about our legacy and our future. We profile alumnus Frank A. Brucia ’44A and the new loyalty society launched in his name, explore some hot topics about the future of our profession, share news about global collaborations and show how our alumni are making an impact in the field of sports dentistry.

Speaking of sports, one of our great legacy events—the 20th Annual Kids in the Klinic Golf Classic—was held in October at The Olympic Club. This event raises funds to provide oral health education and treatment for underserved children. We thank all of you who were able to join us on the links or otherwise support the cause.

As we take time to reflect on our successful past, it is also important for us to evolve and grow as an organization. This will ensure our legacy stays strong for future generations. Our legacy is not carved in stone; rather it is an ongoing, living treasure that we are all part of each day as members of the Dugoni School family.


Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, DDS, MBA, EdD


Members of the Team

by Kathleen A. Barrows

We are all familiar with classic images of our sports heroes: Stephen Curry, with a mouthguard hanging from his mouth. Or maybe it’s a hockey player sporting a toothless smile. But most fans don’t even know there’s such a thing as a team dentist for professional sports teams.

It wasn’t until 1983 that sports dentistry came into its own with the establishment of the Academy for Sports Dentistry. Now, aided by technological advances in equipment, more and more professional sports teams are paying attention to issues of players’ safety and dental health.

We interviewed four alumni of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, representing five professional teams in the Bay Area, who are responsible for the dental health of our local sports heroes, to better understand what their job entails and hear some amusing behind-the-scenes stories.

Dr. Samuel Thacher ’99 knew nothing about sports dentistry until about 10 years ago when a patient of his, at his private practice located a block from AT&T Park, asked if he was the San Francisco Giants team dentist. Intrigued, he called the existing team dentist, whose name, much to Thacher’s amusement, happened to be Dr. Les Plack. Plack became his friend and mentor. Thacher later took over the job in 2012, after attending his first Sports Dentistry Symposium in 2010. Today, his prized possession is a 2014 diamond-encrusted San Francisco Giants World Series championship ring.

Dr. Samuel Thacher ’99 knew nothing about sports dentistry until about 10 years ago when a patient of his, at his private practice located a block from AT&T Park, asked if he was the San Francisco Giants team dentist.

Thacher admits that his job is “more boring than those other guys”—the team dentists who work with football, basketball and hockey players. Baseball-related dental injuries are rare as there is not a lot of violent contact involving the head and neck. Also, during the occasional times when players can’t rely on non-verbal signals, they don’t want a mouthguard to interfere with shouting, if necessary. The most common baseball-related dental issue stems from chewing tobacco.

Thacher finds the white striations on the inner lip that result from this habit occur in a much higher percentage of baseball players as compared to the general population, despite the efforts by Major League Baseball to curb tobacco use.

The Giants team trainers—Dave Groeschner and Anthony Reyes—are Thacher’s point of contact with the team. The league mandates that team dentists be on call for home games and conduct pre-season screenings, with most of the latter being done by Arizona-based dentists during spring training. Thacher has only had two instances of emergency sports-related trauma in his five years with the Giants.

Most of his interaction with the team, then, is for routine dental situations, such as exams and pain-related issues. He sees not only the players, trainers and coaches, but also their extended families, given that many players bring family members with them to the San Francisco Bay Area during the baseball season.

One of Thacher’s most memorable experiences as team dentist came in 2014 on the day the Giants won the pennant.  One of the starting pitchers came into his office with a chipped tooth, after having opened a bag of sunflower seeds with his teeth. Within 15 minutes of his departure, the news of his dental procedure was all over social media. Later that evening when the pitcher ran out onto the field, blocking Travis Ishikawa from reaching home plate after a home run, the explanation was that he was still foggy from his morning dental visit.

As someone who has loved baseball since he played it as a kid, Thacher says his role is not about being “the dentist to the stars.” What he enjoys is “talking about baseball with the guys, one-on-one.” He keeps a wiffle ball and bat in his office, which he has used to take batting practice from a pitcher, and enjoys watching the fist bumps and man hugs exchanged between two baseball players crossing paths in his office. First and foremost, he says, “I’m a fan.”

Every Warriors fan can’t help but wonder how many mouthguards Stephen Curry goes through in a basketball game. One person who can answer that question is Dr. Todd Yerondopoulos ’96, team dentist for the Golden State Warriors and the Oakland Raiders. He’s a very busy man, attending all Warriors and Raiders home games, as well as three Raiders away games each season.

Every Warriors fan can’t help but wonder how many mouthguards Stephen Curry goes through in a basketball game.

When Yerondopoulos first took over the job from Dr. Derric DesMarteau ’90, nine years ago before DesMarteau’s passing, only one professional basketball player used mouthpieces. Today, at least half the players on the Warriors team use the device. Now, “it’s cool to wear them,” he says, “even if, for Steph, it’s something to chew on rather than to protect his teeth.” He estimates having made “quite a few hundred mouthguards” during the star’s first four years with the team. Following the auction sale of one of his used mouthguards for $3,000, Curry once joked that they could both quit their jobs and make money just throwing them out to the fans.

But it’s not just about mouthpieces. Compared to football or baseball, dental injuries are more common in basketball—where elbows to the face can involve the teeth. It is Yerondopoulos who has final say about whether a player with a mouth injury can return to play. Sitting a couple of rows back from the court, he is always within eye contact with trainers should an athlete have a problem.

Similarly for Raiders football games, Yerondopoulos stands on the sidelines, arriving one and half hours before the game. He’s always ready for a text or call from the trainers, should a player lose a crown or temporary filling or need pain relief.

One of his favorite football stories relates to a lost tooth. Early on with the Raiders, during an away-game in Chicago, Yerondopoulos received a call at home during the third quarter while watching the game on TV.  It was the team orthopedist asking what to do with a permanent tooth that had popped out when a player took a hit. Yerondopoulos immediately responded, “Put it back.” When the player appeared the following morning in his office, one of his front teeth was one centimeter longer than the others. Only then did Yerondopoulos learn that the player, without notifying anyone of the mishap, had first tried unsuccessfully to locate the tooth himself on the field. Referees miraculously found the tooth, but it only went back in his mouth after the player’s post-game shower. As it turned out, an implant was later required.

Yerondopoulos says, “Our office is not that much different from the average dental office. We just see more sports-related injuries, like chipped or avulsed teeth.”  Of course his name is out there more, and his other patients may see an athlete sitting in the reception area. And with an 11-year-old son who plays basketball and baseball, he offers young athletes free, custom-made mouthpieces with the logo and color of their choice. “We’re just trying to keep them—the players and all our patients—healthy and happy.”

Dr. Mark Nishimura ’99, the team dentist for the San Jose Sharks admits that he didn’t know much about ice hockey until he joined the Sharks staff as team dentist.  But now, after two seasons with them, he’s come to appreciate the quick pace and physicality of the game. “It’s a dangerous sport,” he explains. “When there’s a facial injury, it’s usually serious.” So he’s grateful for the amazing team of health professionals he works with: a general dentist, oral surgeon and endodontist, as well as an orthopedic surgeon, emergency doctor and family physician. “They are all available on a moment’s notice.”

Although hockey players wear helmets and visors, there is nothing else protecting their faces except for their mouthguards. A flying puck that can travel more than 100 miles per hour, a hit from the carbon fiber sticks used in the game or cuts from sharp skates or even the sharp edge of the player’s own protective face shield—all can cause serious facial injuries.

Although hockey players wear helmets and visors, there is nothing else protecting their faces except for their mouthguards.

Nishimura’s primary function is “to get the player back on the ice as soon as possible.” In an emergency situation, this can consist of immediate treatment in the locker room 1) with no further follow-up; 2) with after-hours treatment at his office; or 3) with office time and further collaboration with specialists. Nishimura also provides general and preventive dentistry for the team and staff.

He laughs when he recounts a story about Brent Burns, who is known for his sense of humor.  As he was walking Burns out of his office, the famous defensive player joked with some girls outside, warning them with his big toothless grin and pointing to Nishimura, “Do NOT go to that guy!” Luckily, the girls were the daughters of the dentist upstairs, who happens to be a Sharks season ticketholder.

Nishimura’s first introduction to sports dentistry came back in 2001 when he was training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  He was asked to make a mouthguard for a then-unknown mixed martial arts fighter named B.J. Penn, who was making his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He’s been making mouthguards ever since.

Nishimura and his wife, Dr. Tiffany Kitamura ’99, run a family dental practice in San Jose. When he started his practice 12 years ago, he also signed up to provide dental services for the County of Santa Clara. In the public health setting, Nishimura was able to gain valuable experience with trauma and surgery, which would later help him as a National Hockey League team dentist. He still works two days a month for the county.

Hockey keeps Nishimura busy during the season. He is on call for 41 games a season and is present for most of the games, where he sits above the bench in seats accessible to the locker room or in the locker room itself. Though he has the option, he doesn’t travel with the team. Nishimura also oversees the San Jose Barracudas, the Sharks minor league hockey team.

After more than five years of treating one hundred National Football League players, coaches and office personnel, Dr. David Meng ’04 was selected as the official team dentist for the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year. It’s an appointment he calls “a privilege, honor and tremendous opportunity” and he hopes to continue working with the team for many more years to come.

After more than five years of treating one hundred National Football League players, coaches and office personnel, Dr. David Meng ’04 was selected as the official team dentist for the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year.

An athlete his entire life, whose sports repertoire has included tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, swimming and skiing, Meng recalls having quite a few bumps and bruises over the years. He’s grateful to his parents for insisting that he always wear the appropriate protective gear and mouthguards. He still stresses how important it is for all athletes, both amateur and professional, to use properly fitted custom sports mouthguards to help prevent oral facial injuries.

He has also been an avid sports spectator and San Francisco 49er fan since childhood. His most memorable encounter treating atheletes was in 2013, when the 49ers played in the Super Bowl. Meng describes how a few days before the big game, many of the players came by his office to “prepare their smiles for the upcoming media attention.” The excitement was palpable, with the feeling of an “uplifting and cohesive camaraderie” shared by the players. “It was amazing,” he says “to partake in such a glorious moment with the NFL players.”

Meng has been a 49ers season ticket holder for years, a tradition he never plans to give up. During the games this season, however, it will be different. He will be sitting on the field, making sure the players receive the dental attention they need.

He and his wife, Kelly, a graduate of Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy, work together at their Silicon Valley dental practice. They also have four young children, ranging in age from one to six years. Needless to say, when the time comes, their mouths will be well protected as they follow in their father’s footsteps.

Despite the differences among sports, the teams and their dental needs, the Dugoni School of Dentistry alumni agree—being a team dentist is exciting, fun and professionally satisfying. They are there to give the best quality care to the professional athletes and all their patients. And being a “member of the team,” no matter how time-consuming, is a wonderful extra perk.

Kathleen A. Barrows, an East Bay freelance writer, is a contributor to Contact Point.

Striving for Excellence

By Kara A. Sanchez

Clinical excellence is a hallmark of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, as the school prides itself on producing outstanding, clinically trained dentists. During the rigorous, three-year curriculum, students develop the tools they need to adapt to an ever-changing world, where new skills and knowledge are required to keep pace with advancing technology and the challenges faced by an increasingly diverse population.

“As a group practice leader, I am in a privileged position to be part of our students’ journey,” said Dr. Des Gallagher, assistant professor and group practice leader. “Each day, I see the students grow and develop as they interact with their patient family to provide outstanding, patient-centered care to each person as if they were a close relative. I am humbled by their passion, drive and willingness to always strive for the best outcome.”

On May 31, Dugoni School of Dentistry students showcased their best in patient care at Excellence Day, a long-standing tradition where students share their clinical accomplishments with faculty, staff, classmates, friends, alumni and other guests. “Excellence Day is a culmination of our students’ efforts in clinical care of patients, research and community service,” said Dr. Nathan Yang ’06, assistant professor and coordinator of Excellence Day. “Through the guidance of dedicated faculty, the patients of our school and the community we are apart of; the students present their endeavors to the entire Dugoni School community. I am ecstatic to have participated as a student and now, as a faculty member, to coordinate one of the crown jewel events here at the dental school.”

“Excellence Day is a culmination of our students’ efforts in clinical care of patients, research and community service,”

Many students invited one of their patients to participate in the program to showcase the successful treatment in person. Faculty judges recognized clinical achievements in categories such as aesthetic dentistry, implant dentistry, complex restorative, removable prosthodontics and endodontics. In addition, the Dr. Henry A. Sutro Award for Best Oral Rehabilitation Design was presented to the top three senior students in each group practice, and an overall winner was announced at the Alumni/Graduate Banquet in June. More than $40,000 was awarded to the winning students, thanks to generous funding from the Dr. Henry Sutro Endowment. The late Dr. Henry Sutro, an alumnus from the Class of 1950, was an ardent supporter of the dental school.

“Working on this patient’s case was very instrumental in facilitating my growth as a dentist,” said Dr. Spencer Hiura ’17, overall Sutro award-winner for outstanding presentation. “I appreciate the faculty members who helped me work on this case, such as Dr. Sadowsky, Dr. Vallee and Dr. Kachalia, who gave me so much guidance. I felt so honored to win the overall Sutro Award and I will continue to give my best to provide clinical excellence to my patients going forward.”

Yang adds, “Year after year, the event never ceases to amaze me and what our dental students have the potential to accomplish.” We invite you to take a look at the outstanding clinical cases from several Sutro award-winners, all from the Class of 2017.

Collaborations Grow with China

In addition to its other international activities, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry continues to expand relationships with partners in China through collaboration, education and cultural exchanges. Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94 recently announced the appointment of Eve Cuny as assistant dean for global relations and Dr. Colin Wong ’65 as vice dean for China-U.S. relations.

In January, Cuny, Wong and Dr. Elliot Xia ’00 IDS traveled to Chengdu in the Sichuan Province of China to meet with faculty members of the West China College of Stomatology and members of the California Center, an organization that promotes U.S.-China business relations. They discussed possible collaborations including student exchanges and academic opportunities related to the opening of a new school to train dental technicians and dental hygienists in nearby Ziyang. The group visited the site of the future technical college which is contained within a larger dental complex that will include manufacturing of dental equipment, distribution, testing and many other dental-related endeavors.

In June, Cuny visited Chengdu again, where she continued discussions with West China College of Stomatology and the Ziyang city authorities regarding collaboration on the potential dental hygiene program. While she was there, California Governor Jerry Brown, in Sichuan to discuss California’s continued collaboration with the Sichuan Province, attended a breakfast hosted by the California Center. The organization is deeply involved in the California-Sichuan relationship to promote education, health care, clean energy, environmental stewardship and technology.

On July 10 at the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s San Francisco campus, the Governor of Sichuan and former member of the Chinese Ministry of Health, Dr. Li Yin, attended the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and the West China College of Stomatology. Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94 also signed an MOU with the Tianfu Technical College, where the potential dental hygiene program will be housed, if realized. The dental school hosted a large group of dental industry leaders, Sichuan Province government officials and West China College of Stomatology leadership for the one-day meeting in San Francisco.

On July 10 at the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s San Francisco campus, the Governor of Sichuan and former member of the Chinese Ministry of Health, Dr. Li Yin, attended the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and the West China College of Stomatology.

Students and faculty also recently participated in international exchanges with Chinese counterparts. Over the summer break, Class of 2018 students Derek Appelblatt, Stefka Bozhinov, Jonny Volland and Jacob Woodward attended an international dental summer camp at the West China College of Stomatology in Chengdu held during the first two weeks of July. They joined other dental students from around the world in a program that fosters understanding and collegiality among students from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.

In addition, the Dugoni School of Dentistry completed an agreement to provide faculty presenters at a special one-week program of lectures to Chinese faculty, students and residents as part of Sun Yat-Sen University School of Stomatology’s efforts to foster bilingual education for its faculty, residents and students. The highly successful program featured faculty members Drs. Gene LaBarre, Anders Nattestad, Ray Scott and Adrian Vogt ’92, ’94 Ortho. The program took place in June in Guangzhou, China.

Ojcius Leads Research Team

A new leadership team is now in place to help guide the future of research at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

Dr. David Ojcius, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, was recently named to a new role as assistant dean for research. He will continue to serve as department chair in addition to his new duties. Ojcius brings a wide range of research, scholarship and leadership skills to this role.

He completed his baccalaureate and PhD degrees in biophysics at University of California, Berkeley and two postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and Rockefeller University. He then worked for 13 years at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the University of Paris-Diderot, where he studied interactions between human pathogens and the host immune system and taught biochemistry, immunology, cell biology and microbiology.

Ojcius recently served as professor, chair and vice provost for academic personnel at University of California, Merced. He has a sustained record of scholarship and acquired $2,300,000 in funded research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as principal investigator since returning to the United States in 2004. He has served as a permanent member of the Oral, Dental and Craniofacial Sciences (ODCS) study section of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/NIH for the past seven years.

He is also editor-in-chief of Microbes and Infection, a journal published by the Institut Pasteur, and serves on the editorial board of several journals that publish results from research in the biomedical sciences or projects related to sustainable development.

“Our goals are to increase the visibility of scholarship at our school, foster more collaborations between the clinical and basic sciences and align ourselves with national trends in research at dental schools, such as learning to use the oral cavity to diagnose non-oral diseases, “ says Ojcius. “This is an exciting period of growth in research on oral health, which is rich with opportunities for all of us.”

The research leadership team includes several others who are well known among the Dugoni School’s community of researchers.

Dr. Karen Schulze, associate professor in the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dentistry, is serving in a new role as director of clinical research. This position will offer the school enhanced leadership in all forms of clinical research opportunities and partnerships.

Dr. Nejat Düzgünes, professor of Biomedical Sciences, will continue to serve as director for student research, and Dr. Stefan Highsmith, professor of Biomedical Sciences, will continue to serve as research coordinator. Both of these individuals have extensive experience working with students, faculty, staff and the wider research community.

Ojcius says the leadership team is very open to input from the rest of the school about emerging strengths and other areas that could be developed into new research foci.

“This is an exciting period of growth in research on oral health, which is rich with opportunities for all of us.”

The team looks to closely align its goals with key national trends in research at dental institutions and with the dental school’s new strategic plan. Before the winter break, Dr. Martha Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), visited the Dugoni School of Dentistry for the first time. This fruitful visit gave the team an opportunity to hear first-hand about high-level developments at the NIDCR. For example, one goal of the NIDCR is to expand the ability to use the oral cavity to diagnose non-oral diseases. NIDCR has identified other opportunities and trends in which the school hopes to become involved in coming years.

The team plans to increase extramural funding from federal sources and corporate partners, as well as work to leverage the University’s strategic focus on health sciences. “Research has become more complicated with important issues that need active, constant attention such as space allocation, budget management, interest in growing student research, efforts to obtain funding and many other issues,” said Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94. “We are excited to have this leadership team in place to help us navigate new opportunities in this area.”

Transforming Our Future

Spring is a season of new beginnings and reinvigoration; it’s also a time of transformation, growth and energy around the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

Our new strategic planning initiative, Transforming the Future of Oral Health Education, is bringing the Dugoni School of Dentistry family together to identify key strategic priorities that will pave the way for our continued success and identity in the future. Thank you to everyone who has provided input and shared feedback as the plan comes together. Your ideas, suggestions and feedback are critical to our success.

The students and residents of the Classes of 2017 have also been transformed. They have grown into competent and caring oral healthcare professionals. Their talents and drive will carry them far in their personal and professional lives. We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments during the upcoming commencement weekend in June.

As my first full academic year as dean comes to a close, I am filled with gratitude. It is such a pleasure to serve as your dean. Thank you to everyone who has stayed engaged with the Dugoni School of Dentistry and has supported our people and programs. We have an exciting future ahead of us.


Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, DDS, MBA, EdD Dean

Online Exhibit Showcases History of the Toothbrush

“Different Strokes for Different Folks: A History of the Toothbrush,” a new exhibit on the Dugoni School’s Virtual Dental Museum website, provides an in-depth look at the story of this deceptively simple tool, from the toothpicks of thousands of years ago to the introduction of electric toothbrushes in the 20th century.

While the concept of cleaning teeth and gums was not a hard sell (even in prehistoric times, humans used small sticks to do so), more recent technological developments initially met with some resistance. “For the average family the electric can opener is silly enough, but the electric toothbrush is stupidity on such a magnitude that it reflects a new, all-time low in the intelligence level of our American way of life,” wrote one Consumer Reports reader in 1962. However, electric toothbrushes ultimately prevailed, though they happily coexist with their manual brethren.

The exhibit, which can be viewed on the museum’s website at, joins several other online collections, including handpieces, dental chairs, Victorian-era business cards and other artifacts from dental history. More information about the collections is available on the school’s website. Students, alumni, researchers and dental professionals interested in studying the collections may contact Dr. Dorothy Dechant, curator and director of the Dugoni School’s Institute of Dental History and Craniofacial Study, at 415.929.6627 or