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Helman Receives Major Award from AAOMS

Ann Arbor, MI — October 14, 2015 — Dr. Joseph Helman received a major award from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) during the group’s recent annual meeting.  Helman, who chaired the University of Michigan School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Hospital Dentistry for 13 years, received the Presidential Achievement Award during the organization’s 97th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Helman was recognized for his career-long achievements including clinical, academic, research and public service that have benefitted oral and maxillofacial surgeons and their patients worldwide.

Helman’s career began in 1976 when he earned his DMD from the Universidad Nacional De Rosario in Rosario, Argentina.  Since then, he has spent the past 40 years actively supporting oral and maxillofacial surgeons’ groups locally, nationally and internationally. 

Among the notable positions he has held throughout his career include serving as president of the Israel Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (1990-1992); chair of the AAOMS Tumor and Reconstructive Surgery group (1997-2004); vice president of the Detroit Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (2001-2002) and later its president (2002-2003); was a Founding Fellow of the International Academy of Oral Oncology (2005) and also a Founding Fellow of the American Academy of Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (2013); and has chaired the Research Committee of the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

In remarks after receiving the award, Helman expressed his appreciation “for giving me, and others here, the opportunity to improve the quality of life and the length of life of our patients.  There is no feeling greater than that,” he said.

Thanking His Mentors, U-M

Helman thanked three mentors – Dr. Eduardo Michael in Argentina, where he grew up and sparked his interest in oral and maxillofacial surgery; Prof. David Gutman in Israel when he was a resident; and Dr. Bruce Baum at the National Institutes of Health.  “He left an incredible impression on me as a human being as well as a scientist and teacher.”

Helman thanked Dr. Stephen Feinberg “for hiring me at the University of Michigan 21 years ago” when he was chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in 1994 and for “his strong support and personal friendship.”  Helman also expressed his appreciation to the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Hospital Dentistry’s colleagues, administrative and support staff,  present and former residents, and his peers in oral and maxillofacial surgery societies “all of whom are like family to me.”  Helman said he wished his late wife, Diana, “was here to receive this award with me.”  He also thanked his daughters, Sarah, Abigail (Abby), and Michal (Mikky).

Since arriving at U-M in 1994, Helman has been personally involved in international outreach and encouraged others in the department to also get involved.  “We are showing how we can make a difference in the lives of people elsewhere,” he said in a feature that appeared in the Spring & Summer 2015 issue of the school’s alumni magazine, DentalUM.

Making a Difference

Since 1999, Helman has traveled to China extensively including visits to Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, a public research university with more than 36,000 students, where he participated in clinical, educational and scientific collaboration with faculty and students and Nanjing Medical University (NMU) Hospital’s Institute of Stomatology where he performed demonstration surgeries for Chinese oral surgeons. 

He also began supporting a program for craniofacial and cleft lip and palate surgeries at NMU as well as programs for head and neck cancer reconstructions.  For his efforts, he was named an honorary professor at NMU in 2013 and was presented with the Key to the City of Huai’an and received honorary citizenship.  He was also named an honorary professor at Jiao Tong University Medical School at the University of Nanjing School of Medicine and Harbin Medical University.

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) is the professional organization that represents more than 9,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the U.S.