Regents Professor Award for Jones
One of the hallmarks of the dental public health specialty is its consistent attention to dental issues in populations and communities as a whole. Since assuming top post of Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s public health sciences department 17 years ago, identifying and creating dental solutions for Dallas-Fort Worth residents is something Dr. Daniel Jones has pursued with systematic, steady focus.
The department as a whole has received more than $36 million in grant revenue since 2000, when Jones became department head. Each time a grant is received, public health sciences faculty and staff, under Jones’ guidance, have found ways to turn that funding into much-needed dental care, and of course, educational experiences for the College of Dentistry’s students. This translates to more than 803,000 patient encounters during that same time frame, spread among the department’s school-based sealant program, senior preceptorships, care provided at community clinics, the Dallas County juvenile detention center dental clinic and community health fairs.
While increased access to care for underserved populations and a broad range of patient encounters for students has always been the ultimate goal, it recently prompted an unexpected recognition: Regents Professor status for Jones, a 1989 alumnus. This Texas A&M University System Board of Regents award honors faculty members who have made significant contributions to the university, and in so doing, for Texans as a whole.
“Dan Jones’ contributions to our school have been invaluable,” says Dr. Lawrence Wolinsky, dental school dean. “The same is true of the surrounding community. He has an eye for identifying funding sources, and he and his team do what it takes to secure grants and foster partnerships that ultimately benefit our students and patients in need.”
Jones’ track to dental public health was not a traditional one. After receiving his doctorate in psychology from Baylor University in 1978, he became a postdoctoral student at the dental school before accepting a basic science faculty position in 1981 and later, earning a dental degree.
The mission continues, most recently, with a focus on interprofessional care for dental students, something they experience firsthand during rotations to North Dallas Shared Ministries, the Baxter-Crowley Agape Clinic and Irving Community Clinic. All centers provide a wide array of dental and medical care, and some even address social, behavioral and mental health concerns.
“This exposes our students to the medical management of patients with multiple diseases and informs their dental treatment of these patients,” Jones says. “It also fosters a sense of working as part of a team with other health care providers rather than in isolation, with is the norm for dentistry.”