Top 25 Women in Dentistry: Top Women in Dental Education and Research

March 21, 2012

Issue 9

Dr. Lee Ann Brady, Executive VP of Education for Spear Education After practically growing up in the dental lab where her father worked as a ceramist, Dr. Lee Ann Brady chose the dental profession for herself while a sophomore in college. For 17 years, she led a successful private restorative practice. She took on a part-time teaching position with the Santa Fe Community College Dental Hygiene Program, after which she joined The Pankey Institute as a clinical instructor. She hit the work with such force that it eventually took its toll on her.

Dr. Lee Ann Brady, Executive VP of Education for Spear Education

After practically growing up in the dental lab where her father worked as a ceramist, Dr. Lee Ann Brady chose the dental profession for herself while a sophomore in college.

For 17 years, she led a successful private restorative practice. She took on a part-time teaching position with the Santa Fe Community College Dental Hygiene Program, after which she joined The Pankey Institute as a clinical instructor.

She hit the work with such force that it eventually took its toll on her.

“You know,” she says, “I just burned myself out. I was just a full-speed-ahead kind of girl. It wore me out and I ended up quitting.”

Just two and a half years after she decided to take a break, she found herself pulled right back in-but with a new title. Serving as the Executive VP of Education for Spear Education in Scottsdale, Ariz., she is accountable for all the organization’s education products. This revamped focus on the career she loves has her happier than ever helping other dentists on their journey to professional fulfillment.

“I really just love being with people, and helping them,” Lee Ann says. “I know that’s why I love teaching; I am counted on, and I have an impact on my students.”

Dr. Heidi Dickerson, VP of North American Operations for LVI

For Dr. Heidi Dickerson, the road to success started with a headache. Or, more specifically, a migraine. “I used to get really bad migraines that were affecting my career. When I realized I had exhausted every avenue as far as my health, I decided to see if my teeth were the issue,” she explains. “After having my bite adjusted, the headaches went away, and that’s when I realized how powerful dentistry can be if we choose to pursue it.”

From that point on, Heidi set out to learn everything she could about occlusion related dental disease and that learning process continues today. She is the VP of North American Operations for the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), as well as an instructor in seven of the core courses (there are 32 total). In this role, she helps LVI develop curriculum that ends up in the hands of thousands of doctors and teams each year. She also helps run LVI Global and LVI Global Australia, and lectures internationally. Whether at home or abroad, the goal of LVI is “to make [dentists] the best they can be,” Heidi says.
Her partner in this mission is the same man who adjusted her bite and banished the migraines all those years ago, Dr. Bill Dickerson.

“We get to teach others how to love their profession. Anyone is capable of doing great work. It is the will to do it, being open to learning,” Heidi says. Individually, she hopes that in her role as educator she can, “inspire people to do good for others while showing women that they can have a balance of family and work in their lives.”

In her personal life, she has found that balance and considers her ability to walk the walk and stay true to herself one of her greatest achievements. “You only live life once,” she says, “so you need to strive to do better and you will have lots of fulfillment, leaving this world in a better place than when you entered.”

Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat

Serving as the first female dean of the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is a notable achievement. For Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, it’s only the most recent.

An award-winning dental researcher, Marjorie has been on a strategic path to success since earning her undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, she also studied as a research fellow in periodontology and a Medical Foundation fellow. She attributes her desire to pursue periodontology to several key role models, including Dr. Paul Goldlabort.

Before coming to the University of Pennsylvania, she served as assistant dean of research and professor and chair of the department of periodontics at the University of Alabama. She also has been a professor of biomedical engineering, held the James Rosen Endowed Chair of Dental Research and served as interim chair for the department of oral biology.

That depth of knowledge and insight were instrumental in her inclusion on numerous academic committees and boards, her role as past president for both the American Association for Dental Research and the International Association for Dental Research, and as the editor-in-chief for the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).

Currently, she serves on the National Institutes of Healthy-NIDCR Advisory Committee for Research on Women’s Health, a cause she is passionate about both in and outside the office.

“I’m happy that I had a little part in changing this profession,” Marjorie says, “and it’s better now than when I came into it.” In spite of difficult situations along the way, she’s come through on the other end, believing that such hurdles can “overwhelm you or provide the opportunity to show everyone wrong.”

Dr. Sandra Andrieu, President of ADEA

“I always believed I was meant to be here. I still believe that I have not yet done all I am supposed to do and I continue to search,” says Sandra Andrieu, MEd, PhD. “I am a spoke in a wheel that would not travel the same direction without me being part of it.”
For someone who has already accomplished so much, that approach is both impressive and daunting.

Sandra is the Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry and was installed as President of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) earlier this year.

The mission of ADEA is to “lead individuals and institutions of the dental education community to address contemporary issues influencing education, research and the delivery of oral health care for the health of the public.”

A member of ADEA’s Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education, and in her new role as president, Sandra is leading the way in developing educational opportunities that help elevate the profession. “I always feel as though I am part of something much larger than I can ever imagine,” she says. “One day, God will explain it all.”

More than just overseeing curriculum development or providing struggling students with guidance, Sandra believes quality education is about helping students expand their options for the future. “Education has given me choices that I could have never imagined. My experience has been a gift that keeps on giving,” she explains. “Choices are the greatest return on an investment in education.”

Sumita Mitra, PhD

Composite resins. Nanocomposites. Resin-modified glass ionomers. Adhesives. The development of each of these well-known concepts appears on the list of Sumita Mitra’s most notable accomplishments during her 31-year career with 3M. Sumita spent nearly 26 of those years in Research and Development at 3M ESPE, pioneering breakthroughs in dental technologies and developing the application of those technologies for new dental materials.

Since Sumita’s recent retirement from her full-time position as Corporate Scientist with 3M ESPE, she has been filling her newfound free time with some technical writing, independent chemical consulting work, volunteering and enjoying her favorite pastimes. Her position and “home” that she made at 3M ESPE were and continue to be a big part of her life, and she is thankful for the opportunity to see her “chemical inventions being transformed from the confines of the laboratory to real-life applications that benefit people.”

Working at 3M ESPE, Sumita spent her time working on new technologies, meeting with dentists worldwide, mentoring personnel in career development, plus numerous other roles and projects related to dental materials research and development.

“I have appreciated the openness of many industry leaders, opinion leaders and academicians to new ideas and have enjoyed working in this vibrant industry,” Sumita says.

Over the course of three decades, Sumita developed technologies that went into creating products that are faster, easier and better for dental practitioners and beneficial to patients. Some of her most noteworthy contributions include using nanotechnology to design fillers appropriate for composites, ultimately creating the 3M ESPE Filtek Supreme family of nanocomposite products.

Her work in developing resin-modified glass ionomers (RMGIs) resulted in products like the Vitrebond, Vitremer, RelyX Luting Cement, and Ketac Nano glass ionomer systems. And she has designed polymers and monomers that have resulted in dental and orthodontic bonding systems such as Adper Scotchbond Multipurpose, Adper Single Bond, Adper Easy Bond and 3M Unitek APC Adhesive Coated Bracket System.

As a testament to all of her work, Sumita holds more than 70 patents for products that have resulted from her innovations.

“Professionally I am very proud to have infused new chemistries into ground-breaking dental products which have been clinically successful,” Sumita says. “I worked with people all over the world and earned their trust and friendship. It also gives me great pleasure now to see the people I have mentored become increasingly successful in their careers.”