Championing Evidence-Based Dentistry to Students

Joanna Scott shares love for numbers and helping people.

Early in Joanna Scott’s career, she quickly saw the incredible opportunity dentistry offered her in affecting the health of patients.

“I was in pediatric dentistry for a long time,” she said. “You see a 4-year-old child come into a clinic where they already need to have all their teeth extracted because they didn’t have the toothbrush training they needed for proper oral hygiene. It’s heartbreaking and you can really see how big of an impact you can have.”

Scott earned her Ph.D. in biostatics from the University of Washington in 2008. She teaches research methodology and biostatistics to UMKC School of Dentistry advanced-education students who have already graduated from dental school and are pursuing specialty certificates in areas such as orthodontics or periodontics.

“I grew up loving math, but I really wanted to use math to help people,” Scott said. “Biostatistics really was a beautiful marriage of using mathematical skills to directly impact people.”

Her students develop the abilities to fulfill the research requirements for their degrees and learn to utilize evidenced-based dentistry with their patients. Evidence-based care enables them to provide their patients with cutting edge care, whether that’s determining the best material or the best technique for any unique case they encounter.

Scott’s passion for numbers is attracting recognition by the dentistry profession beyond UMKC. She received the Leaders in Evidenced-Based Dentistry award for Dental, Oral & Craniofacial Research from the American Dental Association (ADA) and The American Association. The national award recognizes significant contributions to the implementation and advancement of evidence-based dentistry.

“These are skills the students can use for the rest of their careers,” Scott said. “They’ll be able to evolve with the industry and make connections with the causes of certain diseases while identifying specific risk factors.”

Story by: Bryce Puntenney,, UMKC Mcom

School to Provide Free Dental Care for Children

The UMKC School of Dentistry is honored to provide free dental care to our community as part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile campaign.


On Friday, February 3, 150 students and faculty from the UMKC School of Dentistry will treat up to 100 children in need of oral health care.

Children ages 17 and under can receive free dental exams, teeth cleanings, dental sealants and fluoride treatment.

The event is from 9 a.m. – noon at 650 E. 25th St., Kansas City, MO. All children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian to receive care.

Pre-registration is required.

Register here:

Rose Wang, Ph.D., Receives NIH Grant for Novel Oral Cancer Early Detection Research

Rose Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor at the UMKC School of Dentistry, has been awarded a National Institute of Health Developmental Research Grant (R21) for “Infrared Spectroscopic Imaging and Machine Learning for Risk Stratification of Oral Epithelial Dysplasia,” a research project focused on developing a quantitative and objective oral cancer early detection technique.


Oral epithelial dysplasia (OED) is a precancerous oral lesion associated with an increased risk of cancer development. Wang and her team have set out to develop a novel technique that will allow clinicians to make objective, accurate, evidence-based risk assessments for their OED patients, which in turn, will help facilitate early detection of oral cancer.

Wang is the principal investigator of the project and will direct the scientific development and execution alongside a collaboration of researchers in oral and craniofacial sciences, pathology, computing and engineering and biology from the UMKC School of Dentistry and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The team’s novel technique is based on FTIR imaging and machine learning. FTIR imaging allows for precise and spatially resolved biochemical analysis of a sample, with each pixel containing a full FTIR spectrum and thousands of variables that can then be decoded using machine learning and deep learning to detect early signs of oral cancer.

Wang says this type of biomolecular fingerprinting is beneficial in that it avoids inter and intrapersonal biases of the traditional histopathological approach, does not require additional samples from the patient and is safer for the person working with the sample since this technique does not require chemical staining – just to name a few.

Wang has a clear passion for cancer research, which she has been a part of for over fifteen years in both industry and academia. She received her Ph.D. training in biophysics and bioengineering for cancer radioimmunotherapy from MIT and Harvard. She applied machine learning to FTIR spectroscopic data in a preliminary study and generated exciting results to support the current grant application.

Her passion for this research is something she hopes to pass along through teaching and mentoring. She also plans to apply for the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant and NIH R01 grant in 2023.

In addition to Dr. Rose Wang (PD/PI), the research team also includes Dr. Yong Wang (Ph.D., Co-PI), a Professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at the UMKC School of Dentistry who has extensive experience in FTIR chemical imaging of dental issues and biomaterials, Dr. Tanya Marie Gibson (DDS, Co-I), an Associate Professor and a certified oral and maxillofacial pathologist in the Department of Oral Pathology at the UMKC School of Dentistry who has been actively involved in the clinical histopathological diagnosis of head and neck diseases, Dr. Yugyung Lee (Ph.D., Co-I), a professor of Computer Science at the UMKC School of Sciences and Engineering who is specialized in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and medical informatics, Dr. Sufi M. Thomas (Ph.D., Co-I), an Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery with joint appointments in the Departments of Cancer Biology and Anatomy and Cell Biology at University of Kansas Medical Center who has extensive experience in tumor microenvironment and experimental therapeutics of head and neck cancers, and Dr. JoAnna Scott (Ph.D., Biostatistician), an Associate Professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at the UMKC School of Dentistry who is specialized in biostatistics for clinical and translational research.

School to Benefit from 15M Gift From Hall Foundation for new Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building

Hall Family Foundation Awards $15M to UMKC for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building

The state-of-the-art facility will position the district as a premier academic medical district and help propel health care equity in the region


The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $15 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation, which will help fund an innovative new medical and dentistry building in the UMKC Health Sciences District.

The university has secured $95 million toward the $120 million cost of a new Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building on the corner of 25th and Charlotte.

“We are grateful to the Hall Family Foundation for its investment in our students and the Kansas City community,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “The Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will further solidify the UMKC Health Sciences District as a national leader in medical education and health care as well as support our mission of increasing health equity in the Kansas City region and beyond.”

The new building will enable UMKC to provide leading-edge health care education, attract top students and researchers and advance care for disinvested populations. In addition, the project will serve as a catalyst for developing the UMKC Health Sciences District into a major regional academic medical center that can generate billions of dollars in jobs and economic impact for the Kansas City region.

“The Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will provide immeasurable benefit to the Kansas City community for generations to come, and we are proud to support it,” said Mayra Aguirre, president of the Hall Family Foundation. “Our Foundation’s mission is to support and fund projects that enhance the quality of human life for all Kansas Citians. This new building will enable UMKC to expand its important work in equitable and inclusive health care delivery and we are inspired by the collaboration between UMKC, Children’s Mercy Hospital and University Health that improves the lives of people in our community.”

Read the full story.

STAHR Scholars DAT Prep Program Accepting Applications for Summer 2023

The STAHR Scholars DAT Prep Program is accepting applications for the Summer 2023 Program! We are excited to announce that GEHA Solutions Diversity in Dentistry has established fellowships to provide $2000 in financial support for 15 participants.

The STAHR Scholars Program provides students with the opportunities, resources, and knowledge to become competitive applicants to health professional programs. Students in the Scholars Program will undergo personal and professional development as they pursue and apply to health programs.

In the 10-week summer experience, DAT Prep students participate in the following opportunities:

  • Progress through a prescribed test preparation program for the DAT
  • Receive academic enrichment to supplement the DAT preparation
  • Connect with admissions staff, faculty, current students, and other professionals
  • Develop and improve portfolio materials and skills, like personal statements and interviewing

It is free to participate in the STAHR program. Applications must be submitted by February 15, 2023 at 11:59 PM CST.

STAHR also has programs that provide opportunities to learn more about and prepare to become a health professional for rising high school juniors, seniors and undergraduates.

Please reach out to STAHR at if you have any questions.

D-1 Student Chibueze Chiaka (Eze) and Alumnus Dr. Anthony Jimenez featured on KSHB

Chibueze Chiaka (Eze) a D-1 student (DDS Class of 2026) and Dr. Anthony Jimenez an alum (DDS ‘ 15; AEGD ’16) spoke with KSHB 41 reporter Megan Abundis about combatting dentist shortages in Kansas and Missouri that dates back to 20 years.

Dr. Anthony Jimenez is the dental director of Vibrant Health, whose healthcare is funded by donors and makes an effort to provide access to care in marginalized communities.

Eze Chiaka, a current D-1 student at the UMKC School of Dentistry, is the recipient of one of GEHA Solutions dental scholarships, which they have sponsored in hopes to shrink the dentists shortage.

In the interview, Jimenez and Chiaka talk about who is impacted by this crisis and how they are working to solve the problem.

Learn more and watch the interview from KSHB here.

School Welcomes Dr. Daniel Barwick to Spearhead Philanthropic Efforts as Roy J. Rinehart Foundation Executive Director

Daniel Barwick, Ph.D., has joined the UMKC School of Dentistry as director of philanthropic giving and executive director of the school’s Rinehart Foundation.

Dan brings 20 years of fundraising experience to this new role and over 30 years of experience in higher education. He will focus on the school’s philanthropic efforts to assist students, research, community care and the construction of the new interprofessional health sciences building on the Health Sciences Campus.

Read more about Dr. Barwick here.

Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Dental Association Host Dental Explorer Research Post Members

The activities allow members to mirror the experiences of first year dental students.

During the series of sessions that span a year, participants make dental impressions, take dental x-rays, drill and place sealants on plastic teeth, make 3D scans and mil and dental restorations or crowns. They also participate in mock dental application interviews and receive feedback from experienced interviews to improve interviewing skills.

Each session is led by faculty that includes Drs. Derrick Williams, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, Lisa Tao, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Periodontics, Megan Wendland, Assistant Professor, Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science, Tanya Gibson, Associate Professor, Department of Oral Medicine, Pathology and Radiology and Gustavo Leal, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and John Cottrell, Director of Minority Programs for the school. Members of the Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Dental Association and other interested dental students assist to offer one-on-one mentoring and ensure proper protocols are observed.

Photos here.

SADHA Assist Operation Breakthrough with their Fall Festival

The mission of the Student American Dental Hygienist’s Association (SADHA) is to improve access to quality oral health care, increasing awareness of the cost-effective benefits of prevention, and engage in philanthropic events that make an impact in our community.

The annual Fall Festival held by Operation Breakthrough presented the perfect opportunity to engage, decorating tables and pass out candy to all the children and families that walked by. “Their costumes and excitement were so cute and fun!” one of the volunteers commented.

Members from the Dental Hygiene Classes of 2023 and 2024 assisting at the event included

• Vi Tran
• Myrissa Humphreys
• Cameron Nhotharack
• Tawnya Guthrie
• Gabrielle Dent
• Sydney O’Brien
• Adison Basey
• Jessica Woods
• Anaisa Garcia-Flores
• Ashlyn Harbaugh
• Amy Schmeimeier
• Bailey Cavin

Photos here.