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OHSU School of Dentistry announces new dean

Following a national search, dentist and immunologist Phillip T. Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., has been named dean of Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry. Marucha is expected to join OHSU in September.

Dr. Marucha (Muh-Roo-Kuh) is the ninth dean in the dental school’s 114-year history. He will lead the school as it moves into its new home, the Skourtes Tower, which is scheduled to open in 2014 within the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building.

As the only dental school in the state, the OHSU School of Dentistry plays a vital role in the region’s dental health and education.

Dr. Marucha currently serves as associate dean for research and director of graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. He will replace Dean Emeritus Jack W. Clinton, D.M.D., who retired in 2012. Dean Clinton now is helping coordinate the dental school’s transition into the Skourtes Tower. Since Dr. Clinton’s retirement, Gary Chiodo, D.M.D., F.A.C.D., has served as interim dean.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to work with the many excellent faculty, students, staff and alumni that make up the OHSU community,” said Marucha. “As we complete the new building, I would like to see us build on the history of outstanding clinical education to become extraordinary in all facets of dental education and research. This will take the collaboration of our colleagues from the other health sciences to develop interdisciplinary patient care as well as research. My goal is to facilitate the ideas of and mentor the faculty, students and staff to help the school become pre-eminent. I see this as a great opportunity to forge this new exciting relationship to train excellent dentists, scientists and future educators for Oregon and beyond.”

Prior to his associate deanship at the University of Illinois, Marucha served as professor and head of the periodontics department in the UIC College of Dentistry. He also was a professor of periodontology and director of the comprehensive training in craniofacial sciences program at Ohio State University.

Marucha received his dental medicine degree from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine and remained there for a certificate in periodontology and a doctoral degree in immunology. In 2007, he became an ADEA (American Dental Education Association) Leadership Institute Fellow.

“Dr. Marucha is a proven leader, a top-notch clinician and a respected researcher,” said Oregon Dental Association President Jill Price, D.M.D., who was also on the dean search committee. “And, because he has practiced and administered programs all over the country, Dr. Marucha has gained a first-hand perspective on different approaches to education and oral health, an essential skill as health care continues to evolve. After a long and thorough process, we are confident that Dr. Marucha has what it takes to lead during this period of historic transformation.”

Marucha is an active researcher with nearly 200 publications, abstracts and invited presentations. He has been a principal investigator on more than a dozen grants and has been an investigator or mentor on another 30 research and/or training grants. Marucha’s most recent research projects include implementing a clinical research program to improve the health and well-being of minority populations, as well as understanding the basic mechanisms of human disease susceptibility through multidisciplinary research in the psychosocial, biologic and genetic factors that regulate inflammation, microbial clearance, and wound healing in skin and oral mucosa.

“Dr. Marucha is a national leader in dentistry, as a researcher, educator and clinician. As we enter this exciting period of evolution for our school, we need an individual to not only lead our school into its new home in the Skourtes Tower on the South Waterfront, but also to help guide our school into the next era,” said Provost Jeanette Mladenovic, M.D., M.B.A., M.A.C.P. “We are extremely pleased he has agreed to join OHSU, and I am confident he will be a strong addition to the dental community in Oregon.”

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