Dear Dugoni School Family,

Happy Friday morning. I hope you enjoyed our first full week of April as our Spring quarter moves into full swing. I want to congratulate our Dental Hygiene students and their faculty mentors on the research presentations completed this week.  I was able to attend a few of the virtual presentations on Wednesday and was impressed by the preparation and professionalism of our Dental Hygiene students.  Keep up the great work.

Congratulations to our student Pedrom Mashaw DDS ‘22, who recently created and launched the “Dental Giants” podcast to help inspire dental students and young dental professionals. I had the honor of being interviewed and sharing some of my background and thoughts about the dental profession. Thank you Pedrom for your passion for this podcast project and your leadership and initiative.

Listen to the podcast episodes on Apple Podcasts or Anchor FM.

Thank you to our volunteers who helped with our pop-up vaccine clinic last night and those helping at the vaccine clinic tomorrow for people with disabilities. Thank you also to our students, staff, and faculty who are volunteering for the virtual Dugoni Discovery Day tomorrow. We are very thankful for your willingness to help make these events a success.

I will end our message for today with a reflection on the importance of our thoughts on successful outcomes.

“Whether you think you can or think you cannot, either way you are right.”

I hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday and enjoyed our first weekend of April. It is a beautiful time of year with all of the spring flowers in bloom throughout the Bay Area.  A good reminder of how our hope blooms as we take steps to reach new milestones such as vaccination of over 4 million people across the country in a single day and averaging 3 million vaccines a day over the previous week.


Did you know that April has a designation related to health? It is recognized nationally as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The Oral Cancer Foundation offers educational resources online to help the public better understand oral cancer. Learn more here.

According to the foundation, nearly 54,000 people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2021. The good news is that it can often be found early through a quick and painless head and neck screening. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects from treatment are at their lowest.

In addition, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance has designated April 11-17 as Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week. Learn more here

As oral healthcare providers, we are on the front lines of helping to identify many types of conditions and diseases, including oral cancer. In April and during every other month of the year, we are in a unique position to perform screenings and educate our patients in order to help people lead healthy lives.  Thank you for continuing to maintain high standards and compliance with providing thorough oral and head and neck cancer screenings for each of our patients.

On Mondays we share key campus tracking metrics to keep our community informed. Attached are the dashboards of activity and COVID-19 testing at campus for last week.

I will end my message today with a great quote shared with me by Pedrom Mashaw from the DDS Class of 2022 on service to others.

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others." –Booker T. Washington

I would like to call your attention to research published late last week with evidence that novel coronavirus infects the mouth’s cells. The potential of the virus to infect multiple areas of the body might help explain the wide-ranging symptoms experienced by COVID-19 patients, including oral symptoms such as taste loss, dry mouth, and blistering. You will find other insights from the article “SARS-CoV-2 Infection of the Oral Cavity and Saliva” published in Nature Medicine.

It is encouraging that researchers around the world are continuing to uncover the mysteries of SARS-CoV-2 and its connection to the oral cavity and the rest of the body.  This work reminds us of the importance of scholarship in enhancing the art and science of our profession and expanding our knowledge and understanding of health.  I had the opportunity to participate in a program with Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser and I am reminded of another of my favorite quotes.

As the island of Knowledge grows, so do the shores of our ignorance – the boundary between the known and the unknown. Learning more about the world doesn’t lead to a point closer to a final destination but to more questions and mysteries.” –Marcelo Gleiser

Be well and stay curious.

The recent increase of violence toward the Asian community has created an unmistakable heaviness felt around Atlanta, Georgia, the nation, and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  We would like to add our support to President Christopher Callahan’s statement addressing the attacks on Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, released on Friday, March 19, 2021.  Here at the Dugoni School, we also denounce any violence and all acts and expressions of racism toward the AAPI community.  To our AAPI students, faculty, staff, alumni, patients, and friends, I stand with you and am here to support you in every way possible.

As the Dugoni School Family, I ask that you stand with me in solidarity alongside our Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities against the ongoing acts of hate, bias, and racism.

Today, and every day, we affirm our commitment to continue our work toward a safer and more humanistic educational environment. We understand that at the root of these violent acts is a system that must be reimagined and built to lift everyone up, which can be accomplished by continuing conversations about ignorance and intolerance while we continue to build each other up. In collaboration with University President Callahan; Dr. Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, incoming Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and diversity committees, we are committed to expanding our curriculum, educational programming and other opportunities that support diversity, equity, and inclusion within our four walls and within the community. However, we cannot do this without each of you.

I hope that together, we can establish Access, Belonging, and Compassion as the ABCs of our next normal in oral health education and society.

The Office of Student Services is coordinating a round table discussion for our San Francisco Campus, which will be a safe space for support, conversation, and reflection.  Please be on the lookout for more information.  In the meantime, I urge you to check in with your classmates, students, colleagues, patients, and loved ones.

Additional links

I will end this statement of support with a quote by social activist, Grace Lee Boggs:

“Ive come to believe that you cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.”

Be well and stay safe,