The best dental professors don’t just attract great students: they create them by providing a foundation that enables them to learn and succeed. But even top teachers also need opportunities to grow into their academic roles. “Right now it is very difficult to keep oral surgeons in academia,” says Dr. Joel Berger, BSc’69, DDS’73.
To help address this problem, Dr. Berger is making a lifetime commitment of $50,000 in annual donations, as well as a significant bequest to ensure his support in perpetuity, to create the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) Research Fellowship and to support the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Research Training Program. The research training program will allow students to pursue a residency that links clinical practice with PhD research.
“The goal is to train,” he says. “It’s rare to have a DDS and a PhD, and those few who do have both typically stay in academia. The PhD gives them a taste for research and academic dentistry.”
“Dr. Berger’s gift is innovative and transformational,” says Dean of Dentistry Paul Allison, “and will help promote the links between clinical care and research and the leadership of McGill in academic OMFS training and research.”
Dr. Berger credits a former Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Ken Bentley, DDS’58, MDCM’62, for influencing him as an undergraduate. “He was unique in having both a medical and a dental degree, and set an example that I tried to emulate,” he recalls.
After graduating from McGill, Dr. Berger also completed a medical degree at the University of Washington. He has been based in San Diego for the past 30 years, where he is currently an associate clinical professor in Plastic Surgery at the University of California at San Diego. “My training at McGill was the framework for my success,” he says. “It allowed me to be the surgeon that I am.”