Franklin Garcia-Godoy Named Sr. Executive Associate Dean of Research

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Timothy Hottel, DDS, MS, MBA, dean of the College of Dentistry at UTHSC, has named Franklin Garcia-Godoy, DDS, MS, professor and senior executive associate dean of research.

Timothy Hottel, DDS, MS, MBA, dean of the College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has named Franklin Garcia-Godoy, DDS, MS, professor and senior executive associate dean of research. Dr. Garcia-Godoy has made contributions to oral health sciences that have captured worldwide attention, including his studies on extracting stem cells from adult teeth. He will direct the college’s Bioscience Research Center and currently holds $1.2 million in federal, industrial and professional research grants to improve and test dental products. The appointment of Dr. Garcia-Godoy gives UT College of Dentistry students an opportunity to engage in advanced dental science, positioning the college to gain international recognition and success in oral health research.

Dr. Garcia-Godoy, author of Primary Preventive Dentistry (the leading textbook used by dentists, dental assistants and hygienists), will set the tone for changing traditional views of dentistry both locally and beyond. He enthusiastically stated, “Not only will we extract and fill cavities, we will integrate the dental school’s research capabilities with the work of our institutional partners inside and outside the campus, and contribute to the body of science and knowledge at UT Health Science Center.”

Dr. Garcia-Godoy is supporting Cesar Migliorati, DDS, MS, PhD, professor of oral medicine in the UT College of Dentistry Department of Biologic and Diagnostic Sciences to build a research collaboration with the St. Jude Children’s Research hospital to address oral complications that result from cancer therapies. The dental expert is also working with Dr. Migliorati to build a consortium with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., that will develop treatments for the oral factor of head and neck cancer. Dr. Garcia-Godoy will collaborate with faculty in the colleges of Medicine and Nursing at UTHSC to develop dental research projects, starting with studies related to physiology, and obstetrics and gynecology.

From teeth whitening to cavities simulation, and from dental adhesive development to dental stem cell removal, UT dentistry students will be able to pursue exciting research projects through Dr. Garcia-Godoy. “I am certain Dr. Garcia-Godoy will be popular with our students as he mentors them in a way that will shape the future of dental practice,” said Dean Hottel. He added, “Our patients and the community will benefit from his work at UT.”

Dr. Garcia-Godoy’s research has focused on several aspects of oral science such as dental sealants to protect teeth, materials used for fillings, teeth hardeners, toothpaste advances, and the study of stem cells from teeth. In his stem cell work, Dr. Garcia-Godoy hopes that discoveries will someday allow individuals to use stem cells from their own teeth to reproduce bone cartilage, heart cells and the cells that produce insulin. Thus, these potential breakthroughs would have the power to reduce problems associated with arthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Dr. Garcia-Godoy has received approval to construct a new dental research lab on the UTHSC campus and is working to obtain permits from the state. The professor is committed to gaining more knowledge on the ways oral health is linked to chronic medical conditions. He also aims to inform the community that today’s dentists do far more than provide oral health services. They are involved in dental research that can have positive effects on overall health.

Before joining the UT College of Dentistry, Dr. Garcia-Godoy was the associate executive dean of research for the College of Dentistry at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was attracted to UT and Memphis due to the Dean Hottel’s vision for the college and because of the city’s amenities. “Dean Hottel and the Health Science Center administrators have expressed such enthusiasm about advancing the dental college into the next phase of its rich tradition; I am challenged to be a part of its success,” said Dr. Garcia-Godoy. “I also like being near the Mississippi River. It is beautiful and always flowing, which is an inspiration for me and my work.”

Currently, Dr. Garcia-Godoy is president of the Cardiology Division of the International Association for Dental Research and president of the Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine. In 2007, he organized the world’s first Regenerative Endodontics Conference in Fort Lauderdale to address extracting stem cells from teeth, tissue engineering, gene therapy and bioactive treatments in oral health care. Throughout his career, Dr. Garcia-Godoy has been affiliated with more than 35 professional dental associations and was the founding president of the Hispanic Dental Association. He is editor of the American Journal of Dentistry and has published more than 500 abstracts, book chapters and peer reviewed research publications related to dental care.

Dr. Garcia-Godoy moved to Memphis in 2009 with his wife, Katherine and son, Alexander, who is a first-year dental student at the UT College of Dentistry. A native of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Garcia-Godoy received his doctoral degree in dentistry at the University of Santo Domingo. His postdoctoral work was completed at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Established in 1878, the UT College of Dentistry is the oldest dental school in the South and is part of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. With more than 7,000 graduates, the UT College of Dentistry has educated more than 75 percent of the dentists practicing in Tennessee. In addition, a significant portion of the dentists practicing in Arkansas are UT alumni since that state has no dental school. The college graduates approximately 90 dentists each year.