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Dental Student Wins 1st Place at ADA International Research Competition

Ann Arbor, MI — October 21, 2014 — “It was a win for Michigan!”  That’s how fourth-year dental student Lior Aljadeff describes his latest achievement — winning first place at the American Dental Association’s International Student Clinical Research Competition held earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas.  The competition included 70 student clinicians from 36 countries.

Earlier this year, Aljadeff won the Grand Prize at this year’s Research Day at the School of Dentistry.  Weeks later, he received a Student Research Fellowship from the American Association for Dental Research.

Aljadeff’s basic science research seeks to identify oral cancer tumors that are highly aggressive, especially when they have been detected early and are still small.  “We know how advanced a tumor is when it’s first discovered, but we don’t know how aggressive the molecular biology of that tumor is,” he said.  “If we could determine which early-stage tumors are particularly aggressive, we might be able to treat them more effectively.  Eventually, we hope clinicians can personalize treatment to the specific molecular signature of each patient’s tumor.”

“Many Opportunities to Excel”

Aljadeff said his achievements are the result of the education he has received at the U-M School of Dentistry.  “This school offers students many opportunities to excel.  One of the greatest strengths our school has is that it exposes us to all facets of dentistry and then offers us many opportunities to pursue whatever gets us excited, whether it’s basic science research, organized dentistry, or public health.”

He said his mentor, Dr. Theodora Danciu, “challenged me to think critically about patient care and to ask questions that generate good research.”  Danciu is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine.  “Being mentored by Dr. Danciu and those like her who love to teach and are passionate about what they do is what makes dental education at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry so incredibly valuable,” he added.

Aljadeff is also a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.  After earning his dental degree next May, he hopes to begin a residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery.  He wants to apply his skills at military teaching hospitals and eventually return to academia.