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Dr. Jeanne Sinkford: An Extraordinary Legacy



At the beginning of June, the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine had the distinct honor and privilege of hosting Dr. Jeanne C. Sinkford; an internationally known pioneer in advancement of under-represented minorities and women in the field of dentistry.

Dr. Sinkford serves as a role model for many. She graduated first in her class from Howard University’s College of Dentistry and is known as a dental educator, administrator, researcher, and clinician. During her career, Dr. Sinkford served as Dean for Howard University College of Dentistry from 1975 to 1991, making her the first female dean of any U.S. dental school. She served as leader and member of numerous committees and has spent her career working to increase the representation of women and minorities in the dental profession. Some of the councils and organizations she has served on include the National Institutes of Health, National Academy of Sciences NRC Governing Board, White House Conference on Aging, Food and Drug Administration, and the Veteran’s Administration. Dr. Sinkford has also received a remarkable number of awards, the most recent being the ADA Distinguished Service Award. This is the highest honor one can receive from the ADA and their president, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, commended her for being “a true leader in dentistry”.

One of the many hugs that occurred at the reception      From L to R: Dr Javed, Dr Sinkford, Dr Brown, Dr Williams

The MUSC College of Dental Medicine’s Office of Diversity was founded in the fall of 1996. Since then, they have worked to increase the number of under-represented minority applicants and enrolled students. Dr. Gwendolyn Brown, Director of Diversity, and Pearl Givens, Student Services Program Coordinator, currently work in the Office of Diversity.

Dr. Brown has met Dr. Sinkford before at various minority and student recruitment functions and said that “sometimes you question whether you are making a difference and she [Dr. Sinkford] confirms that every little thing you do makes a difference”. She was delighted when Dean Sarandeep Huja asked Dr. Sinkford to come speak at the college.

Two Howard Alumni      

At the beginning of Dr. Sinkford’s visit, student hosted tours preceded a reception in the grand lobby of the Clinical Education Center. This reception was widely attended by members of the MUSC family including faculty, students, and alumni, as well as Howard University alumni. Dr. Sinkford said that she was surprised at the number of former students and colleagues from around South Carolina that traveled to the event.

Dr. Sinkford with Dr. Brown

The next day Dr. Sinkford met with many leaders in the College of Dental Medicine from the Student National Dental Association, participants from the Summer Careers Academy, the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and from the American Association for Women Dentists along with female faculty members. Each of these meetings allowed Dr. Sinkford to share her experiences on the evolution of women in dentistry and fostered conversation about inclusion and diversity within MUSC. In addition, Dr. Sinkford prepared a presentation called “Legacy and Opportunity: The Fork in the Road”, which was attended by staff, faculty, and students. This presentation served as a culmination of her experiences and allowed members of MUSC to truly see the impact she has made during her career.

While Dr. Sinkford’s visit came to an end, the ideas she brought with her will endure. As Dr. Brown said, “she was at the forefront of change and is still working at the forefront of change”, and if the past proves anything, it proves that Dr. Sinkford will continue to make an impact in the world of dentistry.

For more pictures of the reception visit our Facebook album


Impressions Day 2018

Dr. Brown with participants of Impressions Day

Each year, the Student National Dental Association at MUSC proves that student outreach is their top priority. While their annual Impressions Day event is just one of many that strives to educate pre-dental students, it is their largest outreach initiative and makes an impact on many students. The success of this event is proven by its continual growth. This year, 35 students and 5 faculty members volunteered their time so that 60 students were able to participate in a day filled with hands-on activities and useful advice.

A female student working in the simulation lab      

Throughout the day participants were able to make impressions and diagnostic casts, prep a tooth and fill it with composite, and design a front tooth using wax in the MUSC simulation lab. Each lab activity was led by a faculty member while 3 dental students assisted.

Dr. Joe Vuthiganon gave an informative presentation on the dental school application process, interviews, and admissions. Since most dental schools require an interview in order to be considered, SNDA also uses Impressions Day as an opportunity to conduct mock interviews. A participant said that they “loved the mock interviews because it was a one-on-one with a student. They critiqued us, but also had a conversation with us”. During these interviews participants are invited to practice their skills and receive constructive feedback from current dental students. Current dental students also take part in a panel where Impressions Day participants are encouraged to ask questions to get a dental students perspective.

An impressions day participant working on interview skills with a CDM student

This year, SNDA included a new portion of Impressions Day. The participants were able to donate oral hygiene products and create gift bags that were donated to the ICU department at MUSC Health. SNDA members said that they were overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of donations they received in response.

gift bags that were donated to the ICU

At the end of the day participants are provided with a virtual folder as part of the SNDA’s continued ‘going digital’ initiative. This folder gives permanent access to information on the dental school application, dental careers, financial aid, military, pre-dental involvement, DAT tips and specific information regarding MUSC’s program.

MUSC SNDA’s President, Malikah Christie, hopes that Impressions Day will “continue to grow and leave a positive impact on all participants”. Their motto “Enriching Dentistry Through Diversity” certainly is achieved as they prepare the next generation of dentists each year.

JBE CDM students that helped make Impressions Day a success


Staff Congress Update


*Photos are from the most recent Staff Development Day

At MUSC, Staff Congress’ are formed to act as a voice for staff members. They often focus on areas such as overall staff morale, staff development, and communication within the college. When the topic of implementing a Staff Congress within the College of Dental Medicine was raised by leadership at the end of 2017 a poll was sent out to members of the college to evaluate interest. Response was positive with 83% of the staff being in favor of forming a Staff Congress. Officers were then elected in January of 2018. The members elected were Sara Thigpen, Chair; Irina Pechenaya, Assistant Chair; Angela Stevens, Secretary; Jessica Cash, Treasurer; Dionne Bennet, Clinical Member At-Large; Evelyn Gaskins, Clinical Member At-Large; and Angela Pinckney, Administrative Member At-Large.

Once the new Staff Congress was formed, the newly elected members spent time figuring out their roles and working with the dean regularly to discuss updates, concerns, and questions. Since January, the Staff Congress has changed the staff recognition and award system so that they are entirely managed by staff members and are now a monthly award. They also hosted a Staff Development Day that received incredibly positive reviews, and left them wondering how they were going to top it for the next one.


The Staff Congress aims to be a voice for the staff and to be their representation working towards positive change. Their focus is staff development and improving our ‘in-house’ community. They know how important each individual that makes up the College of Dental Medicine is and want them to feel valued.

In the next few months the Staff Congress is planning on getting all staff together for a holiday meal, a possible chili cook off, and launching small group activities.

If you have any feedback for the Staff Congress feel free to email them at


Special Smiles at the Special Olympics

Dr. McGill and students who volunteered for the Special Olympics

On May 12th dental students from James B. Edwards headed to Fort Jackson in Columbia to volunteer at the Special Olympics Summer Games. 

The volunteers were the “Special Smiles” part of the Healthy Athletes program; a program that aims to educate those with intellectual disabilities on healthy choices and identify health problems that may otherwise go unnoticed. The athletes also received examinations from Opening Eyes, Healthy Hearing, FUNFitness, and FitFeet.

A student with a Special Olympics participant      A student with two Special Olympics participants            

Throughout the day the dental students worked to register the athletes and screen them for missing teeth, fillings, and signs or symptoms of inflammation and pain. At the end of the screenings the athletes were offered a Flouride Varnish and the students made protective mouth pieces for them. The athletes were also given oral hygiene tips and a goody bag, which included a tooth brush and toothpaste.

By the end of the day the dental students had registered and screened 140 athletes and provided both health care and health education.

Participants with goody bags      Another student with a Special Olmypics participant

The Fall Games are scheduled to take place at the end of October in Myrtle Beach, where over 1500 athletes from around the state will attend. The Fall Games will host seven sports, Bocce, Bowling, Disc Golf, Golf, Volleyball, Flag Football, and Soccer. Our dental students are already making plans to attend the Fall games, and will undoubtedly make a positive impact.


Yilmaz Becomes Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine

Dr. Yilmaz photo
The College is pleased to announce that C-COHR Center for Oral Health Research Director and Professor Ozlem Yilmaz was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in England. The Royal Society of Medicine is one of the United Kingdom’s major providers of postgraduate medical education. Independent and apolitical, the Society promotes an exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organization of medicine as well as funding for students/trainees. Each year, an elite group of international physicians or scientists is asked to become a fellow following a nomination and the review by the RSM Members Committee. Other famous Honorary Fellows include Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Edward Jenner, and Sigmund Freud.
Of the honor, Dr. Yilmaz said, “This prestigious opportunity will provide greater visibility for the College at international platforms and will further distinguish our research efforts nationally and institutionally. I believe that this very special recognition also attests to the quality of the research our former and present students have been conducting in my research lab.”

New Dentist Trustee

Dr. Davis Photo

Paul T. Davis, D.M.D., has been elected as the Medical Professions Representative to the MUSC Board of Trustees for the 7th Congressional District.

He attended Wofford College on a golf scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1994. He earned his doctorate from the MUSC College of Dental Medicine in 1999, where he also completed an advanced education in General Dentistry residency. After practicing in Mount Pleasant for six years, Davis and his family decided to move back to his hometown of Florence, where he has maintained his private practice since 2006.

Davis is a member of the Florence Dental Society and is the past president of the Pee Dee District Dental Association. He has served on the board of governors for the South Carolina Dental Association and is a member of the South Carolina Delegation to the American Dental Association.

At a local education level, Davis served on the board of trustees for All Saints Episcopal Day School and Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School, and is on the dental advisory board for Florence-Darlington Technical College. He volunteers his services at local medical clinics as well as participating in medical missions abroad. He is a member at First Presbyterian Church in Florence where he has served as an elder. A resident of Darlington, Davis and his wife, Tabatha, have two children, Haley and Thomas.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Davis to MUSC!


Donation Provides Patient-Friendly Alternative

Written by: John C. Comisi, DDS, Assistant Professor, Department of Oral Rehabilitation

The restorative process in dentistry is very demanding and helping our students and their patients with consistent proper isolation is imperative to achieving successful outcomes. That is why a very generous donation from the former Isolite Systems, now Zyris™ Isolite Systems, to the College of Dental Medicine and its outreach clinics is of great importance. 

The Isovac adapters and equipment that will be provided by Zyris™ will provide an effective, patient-friendly alternative to the traditional rubber dam isolation for dental procedures. These Isovac’s will be installed at every clinical chair in the College of Dental Medicine and training on their use will be provided to all rising Junior and Senior students and faculty members each year so that optimal, consistent use of these devices will be achieved with each succeeding class and as we add new faculty in future years. 

Controlling the oral environment during dental procedures is critical and the addition of these Isovac adapters in the dental clinics will be an incredible asset. Complete oral environment control allows the student clinician to maximize the efficacy of technique-sensitive dental material utilization’s and helps in delivering high quality dental treatment. Employing these isolation systems during their education will better aid them in providing better patient care during their time with us and after they have graduated from the College of Dental Medicine.


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