Endodontic Educator Fellowship Award: Where are They Now?

 

The Endodontic Educator Fellowship Award recognizes the critical role that educators play in strengthening the specialty. The award provides funding to individuals who agree to commit a minimum of five years to a full-time academic career in endodontics at a dental school that is accredited by or has a reciprocal agreement with the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

In 2016 and 2017, Edge Endo graciously agreed to sponsor the fellowship and provide funding for another fellowship recipient to join a class of top notch educators!

Seventeen classes of Fellows have been awarded since the opportunity was created, with the newest awardee being Edge Endo Endodontic Educator Fellow Dr. Varvara Chrepa from University of Washington. We are thrilled to revisit some past fellows for an update on their career path and how receiving the fellowship award played a role over the years.

Natasha M. Flake, D.D.S.,Ph.D.,M.S.D.
Class of 2005

Where you were in your career when you applied for the fellowship:

When I applied for the Educator Fellowship, I was in my final year of dental and graduate schools, preparing to graduate from the University of Maryland with my DDS and PhD degrees. I had accepted a position in the Advanced Education Program in Endodontics at the University of Washington, to start one month after graduation, in June 2005. I remember working with my graduate program director, Dr. James Johnson, to prepare the fellowship application. He lived in Seattle, but met me at the dental school in Baltimore over the winter break to complete the application (I later learned this foreshadowed his commitment to his residents). I defended my dissertation on April 20, graduated on May 20, and started my residency on June 20. It was an exciting couple of months!

Where you are now:

Fast forward 13 years…..I am now an Associate Professor with tenure at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, where I am Acting Chair and the Director of Predoctoral Endodontics in the Department of Endodontics, my Graduate Program Director is now my Dean, and 3 endodontists on the selection committee who interviewed me have completed terms as AAE President.  I am the Director of the Endodontic Clerkship and Chair of the Clerkship Directors Committee at the School of Dentistry, where I hold the Robert J. Oswald and David L. Pitts Endowed Professorship in Endodontics. I earned a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri, a DDS and PhD in neuroscience from the University of Maryland, and an MSD and Certificate in Endodontics from the University of Washington. I have been honored locally and nationally for teaching, having received the ADEA/ADEA Council of Students, Residents, and Fellows/Colgate-Palmolive Co. Junior Faculty Award, the Bruce R. Rothwell Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Washington School of Dentistry, and the Edward M. Osetek Educator Award from the AAE.  I am a 2017-2018 fellow in the ADEA Leadership Institute, and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the AAE.  I am a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, and practice endodontics one day per week in private practice in Seattle, Washington.

How receiving the Fellowship award played a role in the career path you took:

The Educator Fellowship allowed me to minimize the amount of educational loans I needed to incur to pursue my endodontic training, making a career in academics more feasible.  I am proud to be an Educator Fellow, and appreciate the confidence the AAE had in me during the very early stages of my career.  Because of this, I am honored to give back to our organization and our profession.

Mo K. Kang, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Class of 2002

Where you were in your career when you applied for the fellowship:

I became the fellow in 2002, I believe it was the second class.  I was in my second year of residency in the program at UCLA.  Sixteen years have passed.  I finished my residency in 2003 and was appointed as assistant professor in the Section of Endodontics at UCLA.  I was promoted to associate professor with tenure at UCLA in 2007 and became chair of the Section of Endodontics in 2008, as well as Jack and Geraldine Weichman Endowed Professor at UCLA. I was then promoted to professor in 2012.

Where you are now:

In 2014, I became Chair of the Division of Constitutive and Regenerative Sciences, which is an overarching unit inclusive of the Sections of Endodontics, Periodontics, and Restorative Dentistry at UCLA.  It is the largest Division of the School and deals with the three major pillars of dentistry.

Over the past 16 years I have authored more than 100 original research articles, book chapters, and review papers; with research focus on three areas – oral cancer, oral inflammation, and pulp regeneration. I have served as the associate editor of the Journal of Endodontics since 2014, and am currently serving as a Trustee for the Foundation for Endodontics, From 2015 through 2019.

How receiving the Fellowship award played a role in the career path you took:

The Endodontic Educator Fellowship award has played a core role in my academic journey so far. I feel greatly indebted to the Foundation for Endodontics for the support far above and beyond the monetary support I received as a fellow; in fact, I want to emphasize that it is a career-long (perhaps life-long) support from the Foundation that has shaped my career development as an academician.

Tory L. Silvestrin, D.D.S.
Class of 2012

Where you were in your career when you applied for the fellowship:

When I applied for the fellowship, I was a 4th year dental student at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, having just been accepted into the Endodontics program at Loma Linda University.  At that time, the fellowship was awarded to incoming graduate students aspiring to become full-time educators rather than the current guidelines providing awards to those who are already full-time educators.

Where you are now:

I’m an Associate Professor and Chairman as well as the Graduate Program Director of Endodontics at Loma Linda University.  My wife and I are thrilled to make this wonderful region our home.

How receiving the Fellowship award played a role in the career path you took:

The path from being a predoctoral student to now serving as Chairman and Graduate Program Director was bridged and made possible by the generosity of the AAE Foundation Educator Fellowship Award.  The Foundation for Endodontics also helped foster my ability to pursue a Masters of Science in Health Professions Education, ensuring that I could step to the podium with all tools in my tool-belt to be an effective educator.  Without the award, I would have taken on significant additional financial burdens in my path to become an educator.  Being selected for the award helped concrete the conduit by which I could pursue my desire to be a dental educator.