UW News

July 22, 2010

UW School of Dentistry deanwins international research award

School Of Dentistry

Dr. Martha J. Somerman, dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, has been named one of two winners of a major new international award in periodontal research.


Somerman, along with Dr. Ulf M. Wikesjö of the Medical College of Georgia, received the first International Association for Dental Research/Straumann Award in Regenerative Periodontal Medicine. The awards were presented on July 15 during the IADR’s 2010 general session in Barcelona, Spain. Dr. Richard Darveau, acting chair of Periodontics at the UW, accepted the award on Somerman’s behalf. Periodontics is the care of the gums and other tissues that support the teeth.


“This is such a surprise and a true honor for me,” Somerman said. “Receiving this award along with my esteemed colleague, Dr. Wikesjö, makes it even more special.”


The award recognizes significant contributions in basic or clinical research in regenerative periodontal medicine. Judges reviewed the investigators’ importance and relevance in regenerative periodontal medicine and the scientific quality of the peer-reviewed journals publishing their work. The judges also looked at the extent to which the research has improved the understanding of the dynamics and mechanism of periodontal regeneration.


Somerman’s research is on defining the key regulators controlling tissue development, maintenance and regeneration. This work is funded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and from the private sector. She has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles and serves on several editorial boards. She reviews grants proposals to the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the National Science Foundation. In addition, she has served on committees for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, IADR and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR), and American Dental Education Association (ADEA). In 2009, she was named to the American Dental Association’s Committee on Scientific Affairs.


Wikesjö’s studies periodontal wound and healing regeneration and dental implants. He has been a forerunner in several areas of periodontal translational research, including the development of animal models and the evaluation of bone morphogenic proteins for use in repair and regeneration of periodontal tissues.


Somerman expressed special thanks to the two University of Michigan educators, clinicians and researchers who nominated her for the award: Dr. Laurie K. McCauley, the William K. and Mary Anne Najjar Professor and Chair of the Division of Periodontics, Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the UM School of Dentistry; and Dr. William V. Giannobile, the Najjar Endowed Professor of Dentistry and Biomedical Engineering, who is also director of the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research.


Somerman is a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and past president of AADR. She has received the Geis Award from the American Academy of Periodontology and the Distinguished Scientist Award for Research in Oral Biology from the International Association for Dental Research. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International College of Dentists, and the American College of Dentists.


Along with her D.D.S from New York University, Dr. Somerman holds an M.S. in environmental health from Hunter College and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Eastman Dental Center and University in Rochester, N.Y., along with a certificate in periodontics. She has been dean of the UW School of Dentistry since 2002.


The IADR, in Alexandria, Va., with a membership of more than 11,000, seeks to advance research and increase knowledge to improve oral health worldwide. Its mission also includes supporting and representing  oral health researchers, and facilitating communication about and applications for research findings.


Straumann is a leading worldwide producer of dental implant systems and other materials, and is also a leader in related research.