New Director and Grant Award for Pacific Health Care Collaborative
As construction continues on the Pacific Health Care Collaborative (PHCC) in Sacramento, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is also moving forward with staffing plans, community outreach and fundraising to support the project and new programs.
Located in the Oak Park neighborhood, the PHCC will combine dental and medical services for the public in a teaching and learning environment. The new facility will offer students who are training to become healthcare professionals—including dentists, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, registered dietitian nutritionists and social workers—the chance to learn and work together to provide holistic, patient-centered care.
The PHCC will be able to serve 20,000 medical patients and 10,000 dental patients from across the region annually. The facility will have space for 10 medical exam rooms, 30 dental operatories and dedicated rooms for people with intellectual, developmental and acquired disabilities. There will be classrooms and a simulation clinic for students, as well as an ambulatory dental surgery clinic and a mobile health clinic to bring care to community sites.
“Dr. Benton’s mix of clinical experience, teaching, interpersonal skills, operations background, passion for serving the community and many other qualities will serve our students, staff, faculty and patients well,” said Dean and Vice Provost Nader A. Nadershahi ’94. “She is passionate about educating patients on the importance of oral health and the impact it has on their overall health. She will also help with outreach to Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood and other communities in the region as the PHCC project moves forward.”
Benton has many years of service as an assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. Since 1998 she has owned and operated Vista Pacific Dental in Daly City, California.
The PHCC project also received a new gift of $200,000 from the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation’s Access to Care Grants program. The funding will go toward capital and equipment support of clinical services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as for low-income and underserved groups who will be cared for at the PHCC. The facility is scheduled to open in summer 2024.
Dr. Han Receives NIH Award to Study Immune Biomarkers for Predicting Oral Cancer
Dr. Xiaoyuan Han, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, recently received a Support for Research Excellence-First Independent Research (SuRE-First) Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the topic, “Single-cell immune landscape in the oral dysplasia’s malignant transformation.”
Han is the first researcher at University of the Pacific to receive the SuRE-First Award, which aims to provide students, especially those from underrepresented groups, with research opportunities and to enrich the research environment at institutions having limited NIH research support.
The award grants Han $702,000 for a four-year research project to identify immune features that predict the malignant transformation of cells in the mouth to oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) using state-of-the-art, single-cell analysis and bioinformatic AI tools. “The students engaged in this research project will develop multiplex immune imaging assay on clinical dental biopsies and apply innovative bioinformatic AI tools on data analysis in my research project, which is a collaboration with Stanford School of Medicine,” said Han.
“OCSCC is an aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis, and Han’s work could help to identify patients needing early care and increase our ability to provide personalized medical treatment for these patients,” said Dr. David Ojcius, assistant dean for research, assistant provost for research and scholarship and co-chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
Dr. Shika Gupta Named Department Chair of Clinical Oral Health Care
Following a national search, Dr. Shika Gupta ’07 IDS has been selected as the new chair of the Department of Clinical Oral Health Care.
She previously served the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dentistry and, beginning in 2018, as a group practice leader. Gupta additionally engaged in private practice in San Mateo in 2007-2012 and 2017-2020.
She has also participated in the school’s Dental Faculty Council, Academic Advisory Committee, Enrichment Program Task Force, Quality Assurance Committee, Infection Control Committee, Pacmanual Task Force, Student Appeals Committee and the DDS and IDS Admissions Committees. A member of University of the Pacific’s Academic Council since 2017, she recently completed service as the 2022-23 chair of the Academic Council.
Gupta earned her BDS degree at Goa University in Goa, India, her MDSc degree in restorative dentistry at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and her DDS degree from the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s IDS program.
New Outreach Serves Filipino Community and East Bay Children
The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry co-hosted an oral health outreach table at the Pistahan Parade and Festival, the largest celebration of Filipino art, culture, dance, food and music in the United States. The festival was held August 12-13 at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Volunteers included leaders from the school’s Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) program and Christian Medical and Dental Association chapter.
“The Pistahan event was an amazing opportunity for us to help our immediate community alongside volunteers from UCSF’s Filipino Dental Student Coalition,” said Alini Agnes, Class of 2024. “Most of the event volunteers from our school—including myself—come from a Filipino background, so this event was a meaningful way for us to give back while also learning and gaining an appreciation for Filipino culture. During the event, we strived to increase oral health literacy and discussed how oral health affects systemic health.”
Also that weekend, volunteers from SCOPE and the Pediatric Dentistry Study Club participated for the first time at a backto- school resource fair for the Hayward Unified School District. Backpacks, supplies and health resources were given to children and families, who also enjoyed fun activities throughout the day. Student and faculty volunteers provided oral health information, gave demonstrations, answered questions and connected children and parents to local dental clinic resources.
University Alumni Association Honors Dr. Janet Andrews for Mentorship
Dr. Janet Andrews ’83, clinical assistant professor emerita, was one of four recipients of the 2023 Faculty Mentor Award from the Pacific Alumni Association on October 15 on the Stockton campus. The awards are presented annually to faculty who, through their personal and professional relationships, have mentored students and encouraged alumni to do likewise by providing internships, career opportunities and scholarships.
Dr. Nabiha Ahmed ’23 views Andrews as a mentor and aspires to use the guidance she has received. “Dr. Andrews is so warmly and logically approachable,” Ahmed said in her nomination letter for Andrews. “She gives the right amount of advice for us to think critically. She is the woman powerhouse I aspire to be one day.”
Andrews has had a remarkable career spanning four-plus decades — much of it in various roles with the Dugoni School of Dentistry, including 10 years on the Admissions Committee. After completing a bachelor’s degree at Marquette University, she earned a master’s degree from Pacific in 1979 and a DDS degree from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in 1983. She recently completed a two-year term as president of the Dugoni School Foundation.
“Dr. Andrews supported me every step of the way during dental school,” said Dr. Angela Chen ’23. “She leads by example and it’s obvious that students, other faculty and patients love working with her.”
Dental Camp: High Schoolers Explore a Career in Dentistry
Forty high school students from across the United States participated in a unique Dental Camp program, part of University of the Pacific’s Summer High School Institute held in late June and early July. The majority of the program took place on the Stockton campus with three days of the sessions held at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco.
Attendees had an opportunity to explore many topics related to dentistry, learn handson skills, meet with faculty and current dental students and participate in workshops and lectures about dental materials, procedures and specialties.
“It was really heartwarming and inspiring to see high schoolers so passionate about the field I’m dedicating my life to,” said student volunteer Owen Chan, Class of 2024. “The students were all so engaged and eager to take on responsibility. I wish I had known that programs like this existed when I was in high school!”
“It was so rewarding,” said Samantha Rovno, Class of 2025, who helped teach hand skills to participants in the simulation lab. “Mentoring these high school students made me even more appreciative of our faculty’s guidance and effort.”
The Pacific Summer High School Institute attracted more than 1,600 students over two sessions. The institute dramatically expanded in its second year, going from 13 program options in 2022 to more than 50 this year. The university’s library and all nine of Pacific’s schools and colleges offered courses. Nine athletic programs were also available for students to hone their skills.