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Scholarship bridges two disciplines to improve health

Scholarship bridges two disciplines to improve health

When dentistry and public health combine, they create a synergy that changes lives in underserved families and entire communities.

Health professionals with expertise in both areas often work as dental clinicians in community clinics and other safety net programs. They also take the lead in public health initiatives such as water fluoridation and oral health education, while some serve as community dental health coordinators—helping patients navigate public resources to obtain care.

At UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry, the dual-degree DDS/MPH program educates students to become experts in dentistry and public health. The cost associated with pursuing two degrees can prove challenging, so Gary S. Leff, DDS, MPH—a graduate of the School of Dentistry—established a scholarship to support students in the DDS/MPH dual degree program.

Since its creation in 2017, the scholarship has supported 18 future dental and public health leaders—like fourth-year student Meghna Dara, who plans to use her education to help those most in need.

“After graduation, I will begin an advanced education general dentistry residency and then work as a general dentist in a federally qualified health care center to fulfill my commitment as a National Health Service Corps scholar,” says Meghna. “I will continue to apply my background in public health through my work in these underserved areas.”

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