NSU Dental Fraternity Hosts Seventh Annual Oral Cancer Walk

Members of the NSU Chapter of Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity presenting the check for $8,000 to the recipient of this year’s oral cancer treatment

The NSU Chapter of Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity (AO) concluded its seventh annual Oral Cancer 5K Run and Walk-a-Thon by raising $8,000 towards helping a designated oral cancer patient from the NSU oral and maxillofacial surgery clinic.

The annual event held near the end of March on NSU’s Fort Lauderdale/Davie Campus served as a kick off for oral cancer awareness month in April. The public raised funds through donations and fees with those participating in the run/walk along with donations from yearly sponsors including Aspen Dental and Henry Schien. In effort to raise awareness for oral cancer AO offered free public oral cancer screenings performed by dental students and oral surgery residents at the event.

AO’s Oral Cancer 5K Run and Walk-a-Thon event was started by a fellow fraternity member who was diagnosed with oral cancer during dental school. Held every year since 2013 the chapter has raised funds, awareness and provided oral cancer screenings to those in attendance.

NSU Receives National Award For Dual Degree D.O./D.M.D. Program – First In The Country

Accepting the Gies Award are, from left, Delia Celestine, M.P.H. Ed.D., assistant dean, student and alumni affairs, Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine; Elaine Wallace, D.O., dean, Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine; Aaron Goodwin, D.O., D.M.D., 2015 graduate of the D.O./D.M.D. program; Linda C. Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., dean and professor, College of Dental Medicine; Abby Brodie, D.M.D., M.S., associate dean for academic affairs, College of Dental Medicine; and Bruce Donoff, D.M.D., M.D., dean and professor, Harvard School of Dental Medicine who introduced the NSU team

When Zachary Heller graduates in 2021, he will attend two commencement ceremonies—receiving his D.M.D. degree from the NSU College of Dental Medicine (CDM) and obtaining his D.O. degree from NSU’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. These two degrees also will put Heller in an elite group of NSU graduates. Since its inception in 2007, only seven students have completed the D.O./D.M.D. dual-degree program, which is the  only program of its kind in the United States.

The innovative program helped NSU’s Colleges of Dental Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine earn the 2019 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Gies Award for Innovation—Academic Dental Institution. The award honors individuals and organizations that exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research, and leadership. The award was presented in March during the annual American Dental Education Association meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

“The dual-degree graduates are truly pioneers with an NSU Edge, integrating oral and overall health. These graduates are developing new types of practices that integrate medical and dental care as they care for their patients. Some are practicing dentistry incorporating medicine into their practices, while others are practicing medicine and incorporating oral health into their practices,” said Linda C. Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., dean and professor of the CDM.

“The dual osteopathic medical/dental degree is ideal for our college. Our college mission is to serve the underserved. A high number of our graduates work in rural or underserved areas where knowledge and skill in both disciplines is a tremendous asset,” added Elaine M. Wallace, D.O., M.S.4, dean of the NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Our dual osteopathic medicine/dental graduates follow this course. Too few doctors realize the importance of the diseases of the mouth in the patient’s overall health care. Our dual students remind us to remember the importance of dental diseases in a patient’s well-being. We are extremely proud of these students and the work they do.”

The D.O./D.M.D. program launched in the fall of 2007 after 18 months of planning. Among the 35 U.S. colleges of osteopathic medicine, only NSU offers a D.O./D.M.D. program according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. This unique curriculum enabled the CDM to create a D.M.D. advanced standing program for a physician interested in pursuing an oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) residency. OMFS residencies require a D.M.D. or D.D.S. to matriculate.

“The curriculum was the most challenging aspect for the program to create a role for those who want to go into inter-professional practice,” said Abby J. Brodie, D.M.D., M.S., associate dean for academic affairs and the curriculum architect on the dental degree side of the program.

According to Brodie, the dual-degree program does not favor one field of dentistry or medicine. “There’s much interconnection between oral health and systemic health. Osteopathic medicine treats the entire person, and dental health affects overall health,” she said.

The year-round, continuous program is rigorous, with a heavy course load. The six-year curriculum consists of basic science and dental courses in the first year; the study of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and other systems, as well as clinical practice, in the second year; while clinical rotations continue in year three. The dental curriculum resumes in year four; clinical dental courses, one-month medical electives, and a rotation in rural/underserved medicine make up year five; while year six is devoted to clinical dentistry and medical electives.

“It’s not a program for everyone,” Brodie admitted.

R. Bruce Donoff, D.M.D., M.D., dean, and Walter C. Guralnick, D.M.D., distinguished professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, were among those who nominated NSU for the award. “The (NSU) program is worthy of recognition by implementing change with the highest level of inter-professional education. This program succeeds in adding a new dimension to the education of the oral physician,” wrote Donoff, who added that Harvard is about to implement a dual degree “following the model established at Nova Southeastern University.”

Zachary Heller will be the eighth student to complete the dual degree. Alexander Powell also is enrolled in the program, which will make him the ninth dual-degree student when he graduates in 2023.

Heller said he is ready for the hard work—and future career benefits—the D.O./D.M.D. degrees will bring. “I am pursing a dual degree to become the best medical and dental practitioner possible. Having a dual degree will allow me to draw from a greater foundation of knowledge, which allows me to recognize and prevent complications before they arise,” said Heller, who plans to pursue postgraduate education, possibly in oral maxillofacial surgery.

“The oral cavity is the gateway to the body. Whether I choose to practice medicine or dentistry, everything starts in the oral cavity,” Heller added. “By having an understanding of both oral and systemic diseases, I will be able to provide a greater quality and more comprehensive level of care to my patients.”

The William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation, and Achievement are named for William J. Gies, Ph.D., who is considered the “Father of Contemporary Dental Education and Research,” according to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).


OKU welcomes newest members


The CDM’s Chi Psi chapter of the national dental honor society Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) welcomed its newest members: Ashley Beck, Michael S. DiSanto, Andrew M. Falestiny, Kalynn M. Foster, Jamie J. Gonzalez, Tiffany Lu, Brianna Mastrianni, Marjan Mirkheshti, Ashvi Mittal, Lily Nguyen, Kelli Orcutt, Derek S. Stallard, Shelby Willoughby, and Brandon L. Zipper.  Members consist of senior students from the scholastic top 20 percent of the class. The CDM’s Chi Psi Chapter was founded in 2000 as the honor society’s 68th chapter and has 200 members in the categories of alumni, honorary, and faculty.

The College of Dental Medicine Shares in Henry Schein Cares Donation / Mission Trip 2018

The College of Dental Medicine is one of nine dental colleges that is sharing in the donation by Henry Schein, Inc., in health care products in support of the colleges’ oral health outreach missions to underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world.

The donations are being made as part of the Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program, an initiative of Henry Schein Cares, the company’s global corporate social responsibility program.

Under the Global Student Outreach Program, Henry Schein provides teams comprised of dental students and faculty from each school with a donation of oral health supplies. The teams use these products during missions to provide oral health care education, emergency dental services, screenings, prevention, sealant application, and restorative treatment to children and adults living in underserved communities.

Approximately 40 to 50 CDM students participate in outreach programs on the Fort Lauderdale/Davie Campus and during trips to provide dental care and education to people in countries who may not have access to health care.

In addition to providing treatment, the Global Student Outreach Program teams assess the oral health needs of each targeted community and work to implement a sustainable oral health system, including the identification and training of local members of the community who can sustain oral health education and care on an ongoing basis.

College of Dental Medicine White Coat Ceremony

The CDM’s annual White Coat Ceremony officially welcomes new dental students to the college. This year, the CDM welcomed 125 students, selected from 3,000 applicants, to the incoming class of 2022. The students accepted their white coats as a symbol of the dental profession and recited the oath that defined their new professional responsibilities to enter NSU’s College of Dental Medicine.

The Class of 2022 includes 40 under-represented minority students—32 Hispanic students, 6 African-Americans and 2 Native Americans. The average GPA is 3.6; Science GPA is 3.6; the DAT average is 21; and 20 percent of the class have master’s degrees. The class of 2022 is comprised of 53 men and 72 women.

NSU College of Dental Medicine Chair Retires

Kenneth Namerow, D.D.S. has retired from the NSU College of Dental Medicine endodontics department. Namerow joined the CDM in 2010 after a 32-year career in private practice.

During his years at the CDM, Namerow served as Chair of the Department of Endodontics and devised an endowed professorship to attract and retain promising young academicians. Working with the endodontic alumni, more than $500,000 was raised from faculty, alumni, and the American Association of Endodontists Foundation to establish an endowed professorship. Today, the endowment is valued at more than $600,000.

In recognition of his efforts, the Alumni Association recommended naming the professorship for Kenneth N. Namerow Endowed Professorship in Endodontics. The first recipient of the endowed professorship, Taner Cem Sayin, D.D.S., Ph.D., has succeeded Namerow as chairman of the CDM endodontics department.

Romer Ocanto, Chair of the CDM’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Honored at International Conference

Romer Ocanto, D.D.S., M.S., CAGS, chair of the CDM’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry, was presented with a Certificate of Recognition for the best poster at the International Conference on Dentistry and Oral Health held in September in Valencia, Spain.

Ocanto also received $500 Euros toward expenses at the 2018 meeting to be held in Rome. In addition, Ocanto has been invited to speak about the CDM grant at the University of Malta (L-Università ta’ Malta) for the Dental Medicine faculty, Department of Oral Rehabilitation and Community Dental Care in Valetta, Malta, during 2018.

Ocanto has secured $8,058,231 since 2007 toward improving access to dental care to children with Special Health Care Needs (SHCN). In June of 2015, Ocanto secured a $3,391,788 grant from the Health Resource and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) to provide this training to pediatric dentistry and advanced education in general dentistry residents over a five-year period. To date Ocanto has received four grants from HRSA.

This project is 100% financed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number D88HP20126 and Postdoctoral Training in General, Pediatric and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene for $3,391,788. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

NSU College of Dental Medicine Dean Named Fellow by National Science Organization

Linda Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., dean and professor of the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Dental Medicine, was recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She was elected to receive this honor by her AAAS peers.

Niessen is one of 396 AAAS members who were chosen by their peers for “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” Specifically, she was lauded for her distinguished contributions to the field of dental public health, particularly geriatric oral medicine, dental services and health policy as well as access to oral health care. Niessen will be inducted as a Fellow at the AAAS Annual Meeting on Saturday, February 17, 2018 in Austin, Texas.

“It is truly an honor to be named a Fellow by this prestigious group of peers,” said Niessen. “The AAAS promotes scientific discovery, translational research and science education throughout the world. The interdisciplinary nature of the members of AAAS advances and strengthens the field of dentistry by supporting research and discoveries that will ultimately benefit patients around the globe.”

Niessen joined NSU in October 2013. She previously served as a clinical professor in the Department of Restorative Dentistry at Texas A&M University’s Baylor College of Dentistry. Niessen’s research interests include geriatric oral research and education, epidemiology of oral diseases in older adults, and oral health public policy.

Niessen received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of New Mexico and her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD), Master’s in Public Health (MPH) and Master’s in Public Policy (MPP), all from Harvard University.

NSU College of Dental Medicine to Host Annual “Gives Kids a Smile” Event

GKAS - photo (toothbrushing)

Gives Kids a Smile.

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Dental Medicine will offer dental screenings, examinations and treatments to children ages two to 21, including special needs patients, on Saturday, February 3, 2018, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

NSU has joined forces with the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation in providing the Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) program at the university’s main campus, 3200 S. University Drive, since 2003. Students from the College of Pharmacy, the College of Optometry and the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine also will be on hand to provide additional health advice.

Attendees will enjoy a festive, jungle-theme atmosphere with Disney characters, face painters, live DJ music and a special appearance by “Timmy the Tooth.” GKAS is open to the public by appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Unlike many other universities, NSU’s Give Kids a Smile program is student led and organized  and includes monthly oral health education visits at different local schools. NSU faculty members donate their time to this community service event and supervise dental students in this worthwhile project. Sponsors include Henry Schein Inc, Colgate, American Student Dental Association, and NSU College of Dental Medicine’s Student Government Association.

WHEN: Saturday, February 3, 2018 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHERE: NSU’s College of Dental Medicine

3200 S. University Drive

Davie, FL

Located on NSU’s main campus on the corner of 30th Street and University Drive


To make an appointment, please contact NSU’s Give Kids a Smile team at 407-391-KIDS (5437) or GiveKidsASmileDay@gmail.com by Thursday, February 1, and leave a message, including:

  • The names and ages of children attending.
  • Your preferred dental appointment time

Please arrive 15 minutes early to fill out necessary paperwork and medical history.



Interview opportunities with:

  • Grateful patients and parents
  • Joanna Theodorou, Give Kids A Smile Co-Director
  • Linda Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., dean, NSU College of Dental Medicine


To provide education, screenings, preventive, and restorative services for South Florida children, and to create awareness about the access to dental care issue that exists in the United States. This is particularly significant given that the U.S. Surgeon General reports that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. The Pew Children’s Dental Campaign describes dental care as “the single greatest unmet need for health services among children” in its latest report.

GKAS - photo (clown, dentist, patitent)

NSU CDM Professors Make their Mark in Chicago Marathon

On October 8, Carmen Bonilla, DDS, Assistant Professor Department of Endodontics and Joel Slingbaum, D.M.D, Assistant Professor and Director of Informational and Instructional Technology and Continuing Education participated in the 40th running of the Chicago Marathon.

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