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Zambon to Retire as Dean of Dental School After 39 Years of Service to UB

November 8, 2021
by The University at Buffalo


Joseph J. Zambon, DDS, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Periodontics and Endodontics and dean of the School of Dental Medicine, announced today that he will retire from UB, effective Jan. 5.

A UB faculty member since 1982 and an internationally recognized authority on periodontal pathogens, Zambon was appointed dean of the School of Dental Medicine in 2016, after serving as interim dean for one year.

He led the school in creating and implementing a new strategic plan focused on growing research capacity; providing transformative educational opportunities; improving clinic operations; recruiting excellent and diverse faculty, staff and students; and enhancing the school’s visibility. Under his leadership, the school has significantly increased federal grant proposals and expenditures. And despite increasing competition for the very best students, the school has attracted the highest number of applicants in its history.

The success has earned the School of Dental Medicine recognition as one of the nation’s top dental schools, including being ranked No. 8 in the nation and No. 9 worldwide in the highly influential 2020 Annual Ranking of World Universities.

“During Dean Zambon’s outstanding tenure, he has significantly advanced UB’s educational, research and engagement missions, leaving the school well positioned to build upon its national and international reputation,” said a memo from A. Scott Weber, PhD, UB provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

In the coming weeks, an interim dean of the School of Dental Medicine will be named as the university plans for a national search for the next dean.

“It has been an honor to serve as dean of the School of Dental Medicine and to have worked with an outstanding faculty, staff and student body,” said Zambon. “Before and, especially, during this pandemic, they have exhibited a resilience and dedication to serving the needs of our community that has been a continuing source of inspiration to me.”

Dental school positioned for continued success

During his tenure as dean, Zambon worked to transform the School of Dental Medicine’s facilities, including its state-of-the-art dental clinics, to enable faculty and student success. The school created a preclinical simulation center that includes computer-aided design and manufacturing labs, an optical imaging and analysis research core facility, and a clinical dental implant center – the Buhite Dimino Center for Advanced Education in Dentistry. The school is developing a special needs patient care clinic, and it has implemented a new electronic health record and clinical management system to improve operation of its teaching clinics.

These efforts accompanied a commitment to providing high-quality, innovative educational opportunities for students. The School of Dental Medicine developed new programs to attract students and introduce them to novel technologies and procedures, including a postbaccalaureate program, an enhanced Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) curriculum, an accelerated degree program that combines a DDS with a master’s degree in oral sciences, an advanced education program in implant dentistry, and an increased number of remote learning and digital dentistry opportunities. And the school created the Destination Dental School program to increase diversity in dentistry by helping to remove barriers to careers in dentistry for underrepresented students. Zambon also collaborated with the other health sciences schools in the Academic Health Center in building UB’s nationally recognized Interprofessional Education program.

Under Zambon’s guidance, the School of Dental Medicine expanded its footprint of external clinical rotation sites throughout Western New York in an effort to improve both clinical education and access to dental care for underserved populations. Each year, the school provides millions of dollars of free or subsidized dental care to local residents. The school’s annual Dentistry Smiles on Veterans and Give Kids a Smile Day programs deliver free dental care to thousands of patients. Also, the school’s S-Miles To Go program significantly increased the patient volume of its mobile dental clinic, and will soon add a second mobile dental clinic, which is expected to further expand the school’s outreach by more than 1,000 patients annually.

Understanding the transformative impact of philanthropy, Zambon also led a comprehensive campaign to raise funds to support the school’s world-class research and education programs, its clinical facilities and student experience initiatives. The campaign received more than $20 million in gifts, including four gifts over $1 million to support the construction of new facilities and to establish the Stephanie Mucha Endowed Scholarship. The gifts resulted in the establishment of three new endowed chairs and one new endowed professorship.

A storied career in periodontology

An internationally-recognized oral microbiologist, Zambon’s research has focused on determining the role of subgingival microorganisms as risk factors for periodontitis, evaluating the role of oral bacteria in the oral manifestations of AIDS, examining the microbiological safety and efficacy of oral and periodontal therapy, investigating the distribution of virulence factors within and among oral bacteria species, observing the genetic diversity within species of bacterial pathogens, and exploring the genetic regulation of bacterial virulence factors.

Twice named the Dental Educator of the Year by the School of Dental Medicine, Zambon has authored or co-authored more than 200 scholarly papers – including three of the 100 most highly cited papers in dentistry – and more than two dozen book chapters that have received over 10,000 citations. He holds five patents, and has also been principal or co-principal of more than 60 grants, securing more than $11 million in grant funding over his career.

Among Zambon’s numerous awards are the UB Exceptional Scholar Award; the R. Earl Robinson Periodontal Regeneration Award and the Clinical Research Award, both from the American Academy of Periodontology; the Richard A. Powell Award for Teaching Excellence, the Alan J. Gross Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Charles Lipani Award for Faculty Service, all from the School of Dental Medicine.

He has served on the editorial boards of several of the leading academic journals in the field of periodontology, including the Journal of Periodontal Research and the Journal of Periodontology, for which he served as associate editor. He is also a fellow of the American College of Dentists.

Prior to joining UB, Zambon served for four years as a dental officer in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps and held the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

He received a DDS and PhD in oral biology, both from UB, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. John Fisher College.


About The University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s nearly 30,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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