The Dentist Magazine.

Outstanding achievement

Published: 15/03/2017

On March 20, 2017, Allan J. Formicola, dean emeritus of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM), will receive a William J. Gies Award for outstanding achievement as a dental educator at a ceremony in conjunction with the American Dental Education Association’s (ADEA) Annual Session and Exhibition in Long Beach, California.

Named after Columbia biochemist and CDM co-founder, the award honors individuals and organisations that exemplify the highest standards of vision, innovation and achievement in dental medicine. The college and its faculty have received two previous Gies Awards, given by the ADEAGies Foundation, the philanthropic arm of ADEA.

“As dean for nearly one quarter of the school’s 100-year history, Dr Formicola made a lasting impact not only at Columbia but within our field,” said Christian S. Stohler, dean of the College of Dental Medicine and senior vice president of Columbia University Medical Center. “We are honoured that he continues his important work here, most recently by authoring a seminal text chronicling our school’s 100-year history.”

During his deanship from 1978 to 2001, Allan oversaw a number of critical advances to the school’s educational, patient care and service work. Driven by the college’s founding principle that oral health is inseparable from overall health, he led the charge in restructuring the pre-doctoral curriculum and expanding the Presbyterian Hospital (now New York Presbyterian) residency programs, which now include oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry and general dentistry.

In collaboration with the late James McIntosh, former director of Harlem Hospital’s dental service, he helped shift the focus of CDM’s dental service from primarily emergency care to comprehensive oral health care. The affiliation he forged with Harlem Hospital also led to the creation of the Harlem Hospital-Columbia Postdoctoral Residency Program in 1988, which allows under-represented minority residents in dentistry to complete postdoctoral specialty studies at Columbia.

In 1995, to expand the school’s service work he helped create the Community DentCare Network to offer care to underserved patients. DentCare now provides patient-centered dental services through six school-based clinics and a mobile dental centre that reaches communities throughout Northern Manhattan. “Building this alliance between school-based preventative dentistry, neighbourhood primary care practices and professional training sites was a team effort between the school, the community and partnering foundations,” said Allan. “The work we began helps the school serve vulnerable and underserved populations while training future oral health care professionals.”

Though he has undertaken many roles throughout his distinguished career – most recently he chronicled the school’s 100-year history in a book – Allan is a teacher at heart.

“It’s such a privilege to work in a space where knowledge is constantly being created,” said Allan Formicola, “And it is inspiring to be surrounded by students who will ultimately shape the future of oral health care. So to be honoured for my part in guiding future generations is truly rewarding.”