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Inaugural Donald Kerr Symposium set for June 15-16

Dr. Donald A. Kerr

(Courtesy U-M Bentley Historical Library)

Experts will focus on oral, head and neck cancer

Ann Arbor, Mich., March 20, 2017 -– The emerging field of personalized medicine in oral, head and neck cancer will be the focus of the inaugural Donald Kerr Symposium to be held June 15-16 at the School of Dentistry.

The symposium will provide comprehensive coverage of clinical topics and translational research in Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine.  The slate of speakers are internationally recognized experts who have made important contributions to personalized diagnosis and treatment of patients with oral, head and neck cancer.

The symposium, designed for healthcare professionals and scientists, honors the groundbreaking research and leadership of Kerr, who was a member of the School of Dentistry and Medical School faculties for 40 years before retiring in 1977. He was widely recognized for his work in periodontology and oral pathology, along with development of special dental programs for oral cancer patients. The school plans to hold the Kerr Symposium every two years.

"We are very excited about this inaugural symposium,” said Dr. William Giannobile, chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine. “The field of personalized and precision medicine is a dynamic area of research and the assembly of speakers for this meeting is outstanding. We appreciate the opportunity to honor the legacy of Dr. Kerr for his seminal contributions to oral pathology, periodontology and our school."

Dentistry faculty member Dr. Nisha D’Silva, who holds the oral pathology professorship named for Kerr, said it is fitting for the school to create a symposium in his honor.  She noted that he was well-respected over his long career and had the distinction of being president of the American Academy of Periodontology and president and co-founder of the American Academy of Oral Pathology.

D’Silva, associate chair of the school’s Division of Oral Pathology/Medicine/Radiology in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, said speakers at the morning session will discuss molecular diagnosis and biomarkers of progression, while the afternoon session will cover personalized treatment. “The speakers are really some of the pre-eminent scientists and clinicians in their fields,” she said. “One of the most fascinating aspects is that the meeting highlights both the latest clinical development interventions and the science behind clinical interventions.  The target audience is healthcare professionals and scientists.”

Speakers are from the U-M dental and medical schools, Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, the University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh.  Topics include human papillomavirus, clinical stratification, cancer biology and immunotherapy.

The event opens Thursday afternoon, June 15, with a poster presentation and reception, with a full day of speakers on Friday, June 16. The symposium carries Continuing Education credits for both the School of Dentistry and the Medical School.  Early registration ends April 7.  For more details, go to the Donald Kerr Symposium website.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:

Contact: Lynn Monson, Associate Director of Communications, at, or (734) 615-1971.