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UTHealth Alumna Named First Permanent Dean at University of Utah School of Dentistry

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 4:08pm

Dr. Rena D'Souza

Dr. Rena D'Souza

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) alumna Rena N. D’Souza, DDS, MS, PhD, has been selected as the first permanent dean of the University of Utah’s new School of Dentistry. She will assume her new role on Aug. 1, pending approval by the university’s board of trustees.   

D’Souza is a professor and former chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Dentistry. She received a bachelor of dental surgery degree from the University of Bombay in 1977 and completed a general practice residency. She earned her DDS and MS degrees in 1985 and a PhD in 1987, all from UTHealth.

D’Souza is nationally and internationally known for her research in craniofacial development, genetics, tooth development and regenerative dental medicine. She has sustained independent funding for 24 years, and since 2006 has received more than $7.5 million as principal investigator on 12 grants, including two major awards from the NIDCR/NIH. She has published more than 120 peer-reviewed research articles, reviews and book chapters, served as an editorial board member on six professional journals and as reviewer on several NIH panels. As a highly sought-after speaker, she has delivered more than 200 talks in national and international forums.

She maintained a busy private dental practice in Houston for several years and has served as a volunteer dentist for the past 15 years.

D’Souza currently holds honorary professorial appointments at UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston; in the Department of Endodontics at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio; the Department of Molecular Biology at  UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas; the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University in Houston; the Center for Genome Research, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Houston; and in the Department of Endodontics and Periodontics at the University of Regensburg, Germany.

 “I am grateful for the experiences I gained as a graduate dentist of the University of Bombay and also those at The University of Texas in Houston, where I spent 23 years developing my skills as a dental academician,” D’Souza said.

One of her first acts as dean in Utah will be to help the new dental school break ground this summer on a 70,000 square-foot building. The Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building will feature dental clinic operatories, classrooms, research laboratories, and administrative offices for faculty.

Until the building is complete in late 2014, dental students will share classroom and laboratory space with their medical, nursing and pharmacy colleagues. The school will welcome its first class of 20 dental students in August.