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Three researchers receive national periodontology awards

Dr. Jeff Wang

Dr. Ann Decker


Dr. Juan Rodriguez

Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct. 11, 2016 -- The University of Michigan School of Dentistry was well-represented among award recipients at the 102nd annual meeting of the American Academy of Periodontology in San Diego, Calif., in September.

• Dr. Chin-Wei ‘Jeff’ Wang, assistant clinical professor in the Periodontics and Oral Medicine department, received the Bud and Linda Tarrson Career Development Fellowship, a $36,000 award from the AAP Foundation that supports early-career, full-time academic faculty who have the potential to contribute to and strengthen the field of periodontics.
• Dr. Ann Decker, a third-year graduate periodontics resident who is also in the school’s Oral Health Sciences PhD program, received an AAP Foundation Educator Award and its accompanying $25,000 scholarship.
• Dr. Juan Rodriguez, a recent graduate in Periodontics, received the Balint Orban Memorial Prize for Basic Science from the AAP Foundation.

Dr. Wang’s fellowship is for periodontists pursuing an academic career. Recipients must be full-time faculty members at the instructor or assistant level or a part-time faculty member. The candidate must be affiliated for 10 years or less with a degree-granting institution, and their career goal must be teaching and research in periodontology. Only one fellowship per year is awarded after an interview process considering the applicants’ overall contributions and dedication to education and research.

Dr. Wang co-directs the Pre-doctoral Preclinical Periodontal Surgery Workshop and the Advanced Concepts in Clinical Periodontics Course with Dr. Phil Richards. Dr. Wang is also launching a Customized Oral Hygiene Therapy initiative for enhancing both student and patient education with Prof. Martha McCommas, which is supported by the Whitaker Grant from the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. He is also developing local pro-resolving and regenerative therapeutics with novel host-modulation mechanism with Dr. William Giannobile and Dr. Laurie McCauley, which is funded by the Pilot Grant Program- T1: Translational Award from the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research.

Dr. Decker presented a poster on her research at the annual AAP meeting. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Russell Taichman, Decker investigates why prostate cancer bone metastases cause cancer relapse. She is building on Taichman’s investigations into mechanisms that regulate bone metastasis of prostate and other cancers within skeletal structures. Many times metastatic prostate cancer cells compete with hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow.  Often the prostate cancer cells become dormant, sometimes for years, and men who are being treated for prostate cancer undergo surgery and chemotherapy and may believe they are cancer free.  However, many patients later learn their cancer has returned, metastasized further and is now incurable.  Decker’s research focuses on what may prompt the dormant cancer cells to reactivate.

AAP Educator Scholarships were created to stimulate the development of periodontal educators by providing financial relief to students intending to pursue a career as full-time teachers at U.S. periodontal programs upon graduation from U.S. periodontal postdoctoral training programs. The monetary award is used for tuition and living expenses during the training period and may also be used for debt reduction. Educator Scholars must commit to spending one year as a full-time periodontal educator at a U.S. program for each year they receive the award.
Dr. Rodriguez’s award is the highest recognition for research achievement for a periodontics resident within 18 months of graduation. The prize, which includes a $500 award, is named in honor of Dr. Balint Orban, a member of the AAP who was influential in developing the scientific foundations of contemporary periodontics. Rodriguez did postgraduate training in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine from 2010-12, and completed his certificate and master’s degree from 2012-15. He completed a fellowship in implant dentistry and taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels as a clinical lecturer. His mentor is Dr. Hector Rios.  Earlier this year Rodriguez joined a private practice in East Lansing that focuses on periodontics and implant dentistry. He holds the position of adjunct assistant professor and teaches one day a week in the Graduate Clinic.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:

Sharon Grayden, Communications Director, at (734) 615-2600,, or Lynn Monson, Writer, at (734) 615-1971.