Explore UAB

In this insightful interview, we delved into the professional journey and research endeavors of Augusto Robles, DDS, DMD, MS. Dr. Robles is the Director of Operative Dentistry and is a distinguished researcher at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry. His commitment to mentorship and involvement in testing new biomaterials showcase a career dedicated to advancing the field of dentistry.

Augusto Robles

Tell us about yourself and the research you conduct at UAB SOD.

“I am originally from Peru, where I graduated dental school in 1992. At the time, you had to do a research thesis project to graduate. I defended my thesis and obtained my degree in 1993 because I did a clinical project. The projects I have been involved as a researcher have been clinical in nature. Testing new adhesives, composites, bioactive materials, and such. I have mentored students also in literature review projects, and clinical projects specially on salivary buffering capacity. The last project I have been involved in has been to measure bond strength of adhesives to dentin… which is always an ongoing project…new adhesives launched all the time makes this a never-ending endeavor!”

What motivated you to pursue research, and what specific areas or topics are you most passionate about?

“My ‘why” for doing what I do is to restore human dignity. I believe that dentistry has the capacity to empower people, to restore confidence, and to take away roadblocks in the lives of many. My focus has been to restore teeth, to preserve what is natural, and to be able to successfully maintain teeth and restorations. The importance of Operative Dentistry is many times overlooked or misunderstood. I hope to bring awareness and thus improve the quality of dentistry in Alabama and beyond.”

What role does mentorship and education play in your career as a researcher?

“That is probably my favorite part. Seeing young minds excited about dentistry in different areas is great! Usually, we have projects that require sample preparation and testing and also record keeping… all that can be accomplished with the help of students. Students learn to prepare samples and use the testing machines, but more importantly, gain a deeper understanding of the materials and techniques and their impact in clinical success.”

In your opinion, what skills and qualities are essential for a successful researcher, and how have you developed these attributes in your own career?

“An insatiable curiosity, a willingness to go the extra mile, organizational skills (admin time and resources, record keeping and such). Organization is key to progress…for EVERYTHING. Curiosity comes from within, so I guess not everyone will have it. But to be organized and to be willing to work hard can be taught and developed in anyone!”

What has been the impact of your research? How do you hope your research publications are used?

“Through the years I have been blessed to see how the work done has produced a more solid curriculum for the students and better information disseminated through CE courses here and when I have traveled to other states and countries. Understanding caries helps us manage it better, control it. Adhesion and materials allow us to repair the damage caused by caries.”

What are your long-term career goals and aspirations as a researcher?

“I want to see young dentals students and dentists see the need and benefit from research. I want to see young professionals inspired to continue researching, asking questions, looking for answers and leading the next generations in the same way.”

Dr. Robles stands as a distinguished figure at the UAB School of Dentistry, as shown in his unwavering commitment to advancing clinical practice and research. His dedication to mentorship, testing biomaterials, and fostering a deeper understanding of restorative dentistry reflects his passion to elevate the standards of dental care. We are excited to see how Dr. Robles continues to inspire a culture of research and curiosity among young dental professionals, shaping the future of dentistry.

Story originally published in Vol I, Fall 2023 LSRG at UAB, a newsletter of the UAB Local Student Research Group.