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Three from UAB School of Dentistry have been elected to leadership of International Association for Dental Research (IADR) groups, reflecting the research visibility and recognition the school continues to hold on the national and international stages.

Hope Amm HeadshotHope Amm, Ph.D.

Amm is president-elect of the IADR Oral Medicine & Pathology Research Group (OMPG).

An assistant professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Amm was also elected as a Member At Large of the American Association for Dental Oral & Craniofacial Research (AADOCR).

Members of the OMPG showcase their scientific accomplishments at IADR/AADR scientific sessions. Research focus encompass microbiome and orofacial diseases, precision oncology, oral/head and neck cancers, immune-mediated mucosal disease, salivary gland disorders, HIV/AIDS manifestations, and innovative orofacial disease management approaches in clinical settings.

Amm’s early research focused on genetics and signaling pathways in oral tumors, particularly those that play a role in the pathogenesis of human oral cancers and odontogenic tumors with a goal to develop therapies and diagnostic tools, with an emphasis on targeted therapies. Her latest research focuses on the development of jaw models for oral cancer research. Looking forward, she is extending her research to a clinical setting with a collaborative project focused on fluorescence-guided margin assessment for ameloblastomas, which are rare oral tumors that occur within the bones of the jaw.

“As a longtime member of the IADR, I am honored to serve the Oral Medicine & Pathology Group,” says Amm. “I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to its continued growth and success."

ping zhangPing Zhang, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Zhang has been elected vice president of the IADR Microbiology/Immunology Group.

Focused on promoting oral health research, enhancing participation in IADR/AADOCR, and fostering the communication and application of research findings that are relevant to dental science, the group is comprised of a diverse set of investigators that study oral microorganisms, immunity, and host-microbe interactions and how these influence health and disease.

Zhang is a dentist scientist with a strong background in microbiology, immunology, and oral infectious disease. Her research interests include host-microbial interactions in the pathogenesis of oral infectious disease, inflammation and bone loss, and the association of periodontal disease and systemic diseases.

“Oral health is important for overall health,” Zhang says. “I look forward to contributing to the advancement of the IADR/AADOCR mission of driving dental, oral, and craniofacial research for health and well-being worldwide through my work with the Microbiology and Immunology Group.”

Caris Smith HeadshotCaris Smith, D.M.D./Ph.D. Student

A D.M.D./Ph.D. student, Smith is president-elect of the AADOCR National Student Research Group (NSRG).

Established in 1980, the NSRG now has over 1200 members and is one of the strongest groups in the AADOCR. Acknowledging dental students' potential as future researchers, the NSRG President was granted a full voting position on the AADOCR Board of Directors in 2007, giving student members a significant voice in the organization. Additionally, in 2015, a second student representative, filled by the NSRG President Elect, was incorporated into the AADOCR Board of Directors.

As a member of IADR/AADOCR, Smith has served as Regional Representative for Southeast A and as vice president of the National Student Research Group. Smith was also selected to be the Gert Quigley Fellow and Government Affairs Liaison for the AADOCR. He has also been president of the UAB Student Research Group and serves as a mentor for undergraduates, dental students, and residents in their scientific endeavors. He received the Randall Outstanding Research Award in 2019 and the Outstanding Regional Representative Award in 2021. Smith also won the 2024 AADOCR Student Research Fellowship.

“It is an incredible honor to have been elected by my peers,” said Smith. “I look forward to serving the National Student Research Group as its president-elect.”

When he assumes the presidency in 2025, Smith will become the fifth UAB student to serve in the organization’s top leadership position.

Terms began at the conclusion of the 2024 IADR/AADOCR/CADR General Session & Exhibition in New Orleans, LA, March 13-16 and will run through until the 2025 annual session.