Dr. Mary Marazita became the Associate Dean for Research at the School of Dental Medicine. At that time, the research taking place at the school was not necessarily reflective of a school of this size. Additionally, many clinical researchers were working hard without sharing or learning about other research at the school.
Her vision to encourage research efforts was to set aside a day to celebrate and bring attention to the high-quality research going on “just down the hall” at the dental school. So, in 2001 she coordinated the first School of Dental Medicine Research Symposium in Scaife Hall. After 17 years, it has become the longest-running symposium at Pitt—and with good reason.
While still focusing on research performed here at the School of Dental Medicine, she invited Raymond White from the University of North Carolina to be the keynote speaker. By expanding the event to include significant speakers from outside of Pitt, she began a tradition of inspiring faculty and student researchers through presentations by academics from other schools and institutions, as well as introducing research taking place at the school to researchers outside of the school.
The Symposium broadened to include a luncheon for attendees. Student attendance became required for the event.
The event continued to grow in attendance and significance. Concurrently, NIH funding increased to over $5 million by 2013. The School of Dental Medicine had become a significant force in dental medicine research.
Dr. Charles Sfeir became Associate Dean for Research and continued to improve the event, which is the premier research event at Pitt. New funding is influencing the importance of translational research—the process focusing on the development of treatments based on research findings—and the School of Dental Medicine is influencing research worldwide.