BDS | M.S. Ramaiah Dental College and Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore, India 2001
PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology | Rush University, Chicago, IL 2010
Dr. Anita Joy-Thomas is a professor and chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences at UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston. She previously served as the interim chair in 2020.
A dentist and anatomist by training, Dr. Joy joined the UTSD faculty in 2019 after leaving a tenured position as an associate professor at Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, where she also served as graduate faculty, head of anatomy, department chair, and director of research.
Dr. Joy’s prior experience in dental education includes directing systems-based, integrated biomedical sciences and oral biology courses, directing a dissection-based human anatomy course, and participating as faculty for courses in periodontics, oral radiology, occlusion, and an Advanced Education in General Dentistry program.
Her laboratory's primary area of research focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms responsible for progression of oral and salivary gland cancers; specifically, the influence of the extracellular matrix on cancer progression — survival, proliferation, migration, and invasion of cancer cells.
Dr. Joy also collaborates on investigations into the initiation and progression of oral cancers mediated by electronic cigarettes. Her students routinely present the laboratory's findings at regional and IADR/AADR meetings and have been awarded research fellowships from the AADR. Another area of interest is in dental educational research (the scholarship of teaching and learning) with a focus on innovative teaching technologies/methodologies, curricular initiatives, assessments, and outcomes.
At the national level, Dr. Joy serves on the ADEA Council of Sections and has previously served on the Council of Faculties. She is a biomedical sciences consultant for the Commission on Dental Accreditation and serves on the Test Construction Committee for the National Dental Board Examinations. She reviews grants for the NSF-Biological Sciences Division and publications for various scientific journals.
Dr. Joy actively mentors dental and master’s students, and she has been active in faculty mentorship and faculty development initiatives.
She is a past recipient of the ADEA/ADEA Council of Students, Residents and Fellows/Colgate-Palmolive Co. Junior Faculty Award, the ADEA/ADEGies Education Fellowship, and several teaching awards and honors. She has led various regional leadership initiatives and participated in national and international leadership programs, including the Harvard Women's Leadership Forum.