Diversity drives next generation BioDentistry
Dean, School of Dentistry
Continuous advances in dental medicine have served to promote our oral health. This is well exemplified by the fact that we have recently seen significant reduction in caries in the primary dentition and missing teeth in elderly subjects, with a great increase in our ability to treat patients with various oral disorders as well. These successes are primarily owing to highly advanced, contemporary dental medicine established through previous efforts by our predecessors.
On the other hand, conditions surrounding dental communities are gradually but significantly changing on a global scale. The changes include alterations of disease structure due to rapid progress in aging, frequently requiring dental practitioners to treat patients with underlying diseases. In recent years, a considerable number of evidences have been corrected with regard to the intimate consequences of oral health conditions with systemic illness, which requires us to consider special care of patients. In addition, a runaway cost of healthcare and a problem of excess dentists have emerged as nationwide issues, while mutual accreditation of dental education and mobilization of dental practitioners across borders are the current topics of interest in a rapidly globalizing society. All these transitions entail us to develop next generation professionals who can adapt these changes and moreover lead future dental communities.
What is competency necessary for next generation professionals in dental medicine? We have been asking this question by ourselves during the last decade. Now we are absolutely confident that the primarily important is an ability to understand oral/maxillofacial malfunctions as biological consequences and controlling them in the context of molecular and cellular biology – we have termed such a paradigm "BioDentistry" – In addition, all clinical professionals including dentists, oral hygienists and dental technicians should be proficient to cooperate all together for achieving a high level of dental care and oral health. While at the same time, students as well as academic and clinical staffs should be trained so as to exercise their leadership in globalizing dental communities.
The circumstances described above require us to increase diversity as for academic frameworks and human resources. To meet this challenge, we are making great efforts in our education at School of Dentistry. This reflects our firm belief that developing diversity facilitates to produce new values in all aspects of dental medicine as well as dental professionals robust enough against various changes. This is also the case for scientific and clinical research being conducted in our research laboratories. We are doing our best for expanding research interests, capabilities and impacts, integrating diverse areas concerning, for instance, precision medicine, stem cell biology, genome editing, epigenetics, nanotechnology and digital dentistry. We hope that all these endeavors open the way for further developments at Hiroshima University School of Dentistry.
Professor Koichi Kato joined Hiroshima University in 2011. He leads the Biomaterials Laboratory at Hiroshima University School of Dentistry. As demonstrated by his academic records, he has quite diverse backgrounds ranging from agriculture and engineering to medicine and dentistry. Taking advantage of the unique backgrounds, he is currently conducting bioengineering research to develop biomaterials and devices especially for applications to stem cell-based regenerative dentistry. Professor Kato was appointed as the Dean of Hiroshima University School of Dentistry in 2016 and is currently dedicating himself to develop next generation BioDentistry.