Two College of Dentistry Faculty Honored

Dr. Philip Patston, Associate Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, and Dr. Keiko Watanabe, Professor, Periodontics, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, were honored with prestigious awards.

Dr. Patston received the College’s 2016 Dr. Jon Daniel Teaching Award, and Dr. Watanabe received this year’s Faculty Research Award.

Dr. Patston received the award from Dean Clark Stanford and a prior Daniel Award winner, Dr. Blase Brown, Clinical Assistant Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences. Dr. Brown also served on the Daniel Award Committee.

The Daniel Award was established in 2010 in memory of longtime UIC College of Dentistry Oral Biology faculty member Dr. Jon Daniel, to honor instructors who have made exemplary contributions to UIC dental students’ learning. Dr. Daniel passed away in 2009.

Dr. Daniels’ qualities cited in the award are the ability to engage students’ interest, curiosity, the ability to motivate students, to challenge them, and to respond to their needs.

A student had nominated Dr. Patston, and commended Dr. Patston for engaging his students on a personal level and challenging them to develop into knowledgeable dentists and life-long learners.

“It is a great honor to receive an award recognizing the commitment to teaching of Dr. Daniel,” Dr. Patston said.

“One of the wonderful things about small group learning is that we get an opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with our students, allowing for a much deeper discussion than can happen in lectures, so to be nominated by a student was particularly special,” Dr. Patston added.

The College’s Research Advisory Committee under the leadership of Associate Dean for Research Dr. Lyndon Cooper chose Dr. Watanabe as the Faculty Research Award recipient after examining nominations by colleagues.

Dr. Watanabe and her team have identified that periodontitis induces prediabetes and accelerates the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“We also determined that experimental periodontitis in animals alters metabolism of distant organs including brain, liver, and heart,” she explained. “We are also very excited about new findings that periodontitis results in hyperinsulinemia in vivo and that SerpinE1 may be involved in this process.”

Dr. Watanabe noted that she was “very humbled and honored by receiving this award,” and said it meant a great deal to her “as I do something I love to do in an environment where I can interact with so many wonderful colleagues. The beautiful glass plaque I received is sitting on my kitchen counter where I see it every day and reminds me how fortunate I am.”

As a clinician, researcher, and teacher, Dr. Watanabe said she has dedicated herself “to improving the oral and systemic health of the general population. Throughout my career my clinical interest has been the relationship between periodontitis and underlying systemic diseases. I have been treating patients with various systemic diseases including prediabetes and diabetes, which are perhaps the most prevalent systemic diseases associated with periodontitis. I have been fortunate to have received National Institutes of Health grants and to study the effect of periodontitis on glucose homeostasis.”