A Message from the Head of School

As I write this, I am coming to the end of my third year as Head of the Melbourne Dental School, and all I can think to say is, “what a roller coaster journey it has been!”

I recently read back over my last Head of School message, dated July 2021, and my first feelings were of pride and sincere appreciation for how far we have come since my last message, and for how the School and my staff have managed to deliver education and clinical experience to ensure students graduate as competent graduating clinicians.

I briefly referred to MDS’25 – my plan to create a sustainable School for the long-term while delivering world-class education and research, and creating outstanding clinicians and scientists to address the challenges facing oral health. Over the last few years, thanks to each and every one of my colleagues, partners and supporters near and far, we have come a long way and are succeeding in ways that we never could have imagined three years ago.

We have made significant progress with our curriculum review, and in improving the quality of learning and teaching and the student experience at our School, due to the leadership of Dr Samantha Byrne and her team of dedicated colleagues.

We welcomed our new School Manager, Ms Lindsay Guy, to MDS in September 2021. Thanks to her expertise and significant experience, we have unpacked, refined and expanded the School’s governance model to strengthen accountability, improve visibility of process and finance, and enable timely and informed decision-making.

Professor Stuart Dashper and Associate Professor Roy Judge continue to build a stronger research culture and environment by enhancing our capacity in innovation, collaboration, inclusivity, engagement and sustainability at the School. Together, we are increasing MDS’s presence by creating strategic partnerships with international schools and international companies.

And in breaking news, I am delighted to say that the School had a 100 per cent success rate with our NHMRC Investigator Grant Awards this year. Dr Leanne Teoh and Dr Wenyi Li, two early career academics in the School, were awarded their Investigator Awards and will commence their research next year. Alongside this, Dr Ankur Singh, a conjoint appointment with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, was successful with his ARC DECRA award. Our congratulations go to these young academic colleagues, and it is wonderful to see success for aspiring research leaders in our School. Our research in the School continues to grow and go from strength to strength.

Professor Julie Satur has done a phenomenal job improving our community engagement and Indigenous partnership programs to improve oral health in line with Faculty and University agendas. Her work in leading her team of cross-institutional colleagues to design and launch ‘Joining the Dots: A Dental Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Curriculum’ for implementation by all schools has been exceptional. I was very pleased that Julie was able to officially launch this curriculum at the recent IADR ANZ meeting in Melbourne this September.

But what I am most proud of are the achievements of every single one of my students, particularly the class of 2022. They have undertaken their degree, and delivered care to patients as part of this degree, during the most challenging of times. However, the pandemic that has dominated such a large part of our students’ time does not define them. Far from it. Their achievements are to be celebrated and their future is bright.

I also must mention the incredible support that the broader profession provides to the Melbourne Dental School. For this, we continue to be extremely thankful. As a School, we rely on the profession’s generosity, and they (you) never fail to deliver. As Head of School, I am appreciative for and inspired by what our future holds.

Professor Alastair J Sloan

Head, Melbourne Dental School