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Polverini, Mistretta Honored for Scholarship, Service

Ann Arbor, MI — October 16, 2015 — Dr. Peter Polverini, dean of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry from 2003-2013, and Dr. Charlotte Mistretta, the William Mann Professor of Dentistry in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, have been recognized for their teaching, scholarship, service and creative activities.

Polverni was honored as the Jonathan Taft Distinguished University Professor of Dentistry. Mistretta received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award. They and 28 others from U-M, were recognized by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the Office of Research and other university unit.

Dr. Peter Polverini:
Distinguished University Professorship

Internationally recognized dentist, scientist and educator Dr. Peter Polverini was among the first to identify the role of tumor suppressor genes in controlling tumor neovascularization and cancer progression, and pioneered the concept of transplanting blood vessel-forming cells to create networks of functional blood vessels. He brought the same rigor to the School of Dentistry, where, as dean from 2003-13, he promoted evidence-based dentistry and transformed the school's curriculum.

Early in his career, Polverini used an innovative mouse model to demonstrate the role of the survival factor BcL-2 in tumor neovascularization and progression, and the role of growth factors and cell signaling networks. He currently focuses on health policy, collaborative care and personalized health care. He has published more than 150 articles, textbooks and book chapters, has given more than 100 scientific presentations and holds five patents.

Polverini has trained and mentored 20 undergraduates, six doctoral students, and 12 postdoctoral fellows, many now scientists. He also designed a popular course for undergraduates exploring clinical education options. As dean he championed leadership development, community and global outreach, and biomedically integrated dental education.

A diplomat of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Polverini is past president of the American Association of Dental Research and former chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Section on Oral Health and Dentistry. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and a member of the Institute of Medicine.

His honors include the International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award in Oral Medicine and Pathology, the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Birnberg Award, and the American Dental Education Association William J. Gies Award for Vision.

Dr. Charlotte Mistretta:
Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award

A pioneering researcher in sensory neurobiology and development of taste, Charlotte Mistretta is known for the elegance and thoroughness of her research, which has important ramifications for how taste sensation is regulated. She was a leader in showing that the mammalian sense of taste functions before birth and changes postnatally.

Mistretta developed the first organ culture system of an embryonic tongue, which is widely used to determine factors that regulate taste development. Her studies of signaling pathways that control maintenance of taste buds have enhanced the understanding of pathway-altering drugs’ effects on patients' sense of taste.

Mistretta has presented her findings in 88 journal articles and book chapters and at numerous conferences. The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have supported her research since 1973. As the School of Dentistry's associate dean for research and research training from 2005-14, Mistretta promoted initiatives on postdoctoral advising and graduate student training. She directed the Oral Health Sciences PhD Program from its inception in 1993 to 2010, and co-directed U-M's Hearing and Chemical Senses Training Program.

A member of the MCubed University Research Funding Initiative executive committee, she has served on U-M's Budget Priorities Committee, the Provost’s Faculty Advisory Committee, and President's Task Force on the Organization of the University.

She helped found and was the first chairperson of the Association of Chemoreception Sciences and serves on its Federal Liaisons Committee. She is a member of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council and participates on NIH and NSF advisory panels and review committees.

Her accolades include an NIH Research Career Development Award, NIDCD Claude Pepper Award, AChemS Salt Taste Award and Kerry-Manheimer Award from the Monell Chemical Senses Center.