Prof. Julie Sutton Selected for ADEA Leadership Program

Congratulations to Prof. Julie Sutton who was accepted to participate in the 2023 ADEA Allied Dental Faculty Leadership Development Program (ADEA ADFLDP). This is ADEA’s premier leadership program designed to inspire and develop future allied dental education leaders.

This competitive leadership opportunity takes place at the ADEA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in August. Click here to learn more about the program.

Edgardo Leiva, DDS Class of 2023, Plans to Use His Pro Soccer Background to Help KC Kids

Dental student and soccer talent Edgardo Leiva needed coaches for his youth soccer business and his fellow students were the talent pool he needed.

Dental student Edgardo Leiva rose through the competitive ranks of soccer, from the Honduran National Team to college soccer in United States. His playing career came to an end as his career as a dental student ramped up. He soon transitioned to coaching in addition to his dentistry studies. His sought-after coaching skills were in such high demand that he formed his company, Soccer Roots, where he began hiring additional coaches, including many of his fellow dental students.

How did your soccer career begin?

I started playing competitively when I was 12 or 13, eventually participating in the developmental program for the Honduran national team. But the situation in Honduras became too difficult for my family, so my mom brought us to Miami, where my grandmother was living. When we first moved there, it was very difficult. My mom had to work multiple jobs.

What was your path to UMKC?

I played soccer at a couple of colleges in the Midwest, eventually landing at UMKC to play for the school’s soccer team. As my collegiate playing career was ending, I knew I needed to figure out something else to do. I always wanted to go into dentistry, but to do that I needed to put my focus on my academics.

What opportunities have come to you while at UMKC?

My academics really started taking off when I began working in the research lab of Ryan Mohan, a professor in the UMKC School of Science and Engineering. I met Ryan at a soccer camp where I was coaching his kids. Getting more involved in research really helped me focus on my academics but I always kept up coaching.

How did your coaching career develop?

I was coaching recreational teams for Sporting Brookside, a Kansas City soccer league. The league includes both recreational teams that are open to all and a competitive side where players try out to participate. The parents liked the structure of my recreational practices and were interested in me providing additional coaching to their kids who wanted to transition to the competitive side. That’s when I started my company, Soccer Roots, which now oversees the Elite Program within Sporting Brookside for players interested in additional training to help them continue to the higher levels of the sport.

Read the full story here.

Story by: Strategic Marketing and Communications,

Welcoming the DDS Class of 2027

The Office of Student Programs hosted incoming dental students at its annual Welcome Reception on Friday, March 10, 2023. Members of the Dental Class of 2027 and their guests came together to celebrate the students’ acceptance to the UMKC School of Dentistry. This pre-orientation event offers a chance for the students to begin to create the bonds they will share for a lifetime with their future classmates, while also learning about the path ahead, the financial aspects of dental school and the resources available to them from faculty, fellow students, and staff. They had the opportunity to tour the building and attend a housing fair to visit with area property managers to learn about local rental opportunities.

The DDS Class of 2027 was selected from a pool of nearly 900 qualified applicants, and hail from Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Hawaii, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Texas, Washington, and Kuwait. They bring extensive community service hours and time spent in the field in preparation for their time at the School of Dentistry. This dental class will be the most culturally diverse class in the school’s history, including the largest percentage of female students. With a science average of 3.75 and a DAT academic average of 20.20, this class is anything but average.

A warm welcome to our 109 future dentists!

See photos from the event here.

*Statistics accurate as of March 2023 and subject to change.

A Medley of Talent at the 2023 Variety Show

There was no shortage of talent at this year’s Student, Faculty and Staff Variety Show! The show was held on February 22, 2023, and is sponsored by the Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association.

This annual event has been a dental school favorite, as it’s an opportunity for the dental school community to display their talents and at the same time celebrate the School of Dentistry’s rich diversity. Further, the event coincides with Black History Month and the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

Below are the performers at this year’s event, which was led by Mistress of Ceremony, SNDA Secretary and D2, Precious Hollins, and SNDA Faculty Advisor, John Cottrell:

Casey Aschinger, DDS Class of 2023

Musical Performance: “She Will Be loved” by Adam Levine and “I Want it that Way” by the Backstreet Boys

Brenda Everhart, Staff Supervisor, Clinic

Musical Performance: “Goodness of God and Rooftops”

Anh Nguyen, DDS Class of 2024

Dance Performance to a medley of “Bellyache”, “My Strange Addiction” and “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish

Dr. Bob Hurst, Clinical Assistant Professor, Team 3

Musical Performance: “Part of the Plan” by Dan Fogeberg

Andrew Flanagin, Office Support Assistant, Front Desk

Musical Performance: “O Sole Mio” by Eduardo Di Capua

Sydney Bauer, DDS Class of 2026

Musical Performance: “Life Me Up” by Rihanna

John Cottrell, Director, Faculty Advisor of Minority Programs and SNDA/HSDA

Musical Performance: “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandross


Thank you to all our performers for showcasing your talents!


To view photos from the event, click here.

Dental School Hosts Give Kids a Smile

The UMKC School of Dentistry provided free dental care to children as part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile campaign.


The event takes place during February which is recognized as Children’s Dental Health month. It’s a chance to show kids how important oral healthcare is in a fun, interactive environment. This year, our faculty, students and staff shared smiles, at-home care kits, and even some bubbles with kids from the community.

View photos from the event here:

And see YOUR smiles here:

UMKC SNDA/HSDA Hosts 2023 Impressions Day

UMKC School of Dentistry’s Student National Dental Association (SNDA) and Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) hosted their 2nd annual Impressions Day on Saturday, January 28th.


Impressions Day is a national event hosted by SNDA chapters to introduce underrepresented pre-dental students to UMKC School of Dentistry. This year’s Impressions Day was hosted both online and in-person. Over 60 pre-dental students across the nation had the opportunity to listen to panels and presentations on applying to dental school, preparing for the DAT, and a number of other subjects that are important to successfully enroll into UMKC School of Dentistry. In-person participants were able to drill their first tooth in the pre-clinical lab as well as receive a guided school tour. Through Impressions Day, SNDA and HSDA hopes to continue to offer opportunities to assist underrepresented pre-dental students to confidently apply to UMKC School of Dentistry.

View photos from the event here.

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.