1. What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work effectively with people?
I have performed many activities that attest to my spirit of collaboration and cooperation with others. As a dental student in China, I organized events where my classmates and I provided oral health instruction and outreach oral examinations to residents of our local community. As one of the leaders of these activities, I was successful at reaching out to the Oral-B Company in our city and attaining their sponsorship for these events in exchange for the use of their oral health products. My frequent involvement in these kinds of oral health education and promotion activities, here in the USA as well as in China, have helped me to mature and become a highly responsible and accountable, team player. The importance that I place on teamwork also came in very handy as a member of our soccer team in dental school.
After my graduation, I worked as a dentist at Beijing’s Stomatological Hospital for seven years and a teacher at Capital Medical University School of Stomatology for five years, attending to patients from many different backgrounds and walks of life. I treated them as friends and thought in their shoes, which made me one of the most popular dentists and teachers in our hospital and dental school. After years of clinical practice and teaching, I was promoted to attending dentist for my clinical work and won the “Colgate Scholarship for Outstanding Teacher” for my teaching performance.
For the past seven years, I have worked as a research scientist at the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry. Through effective teamwork, I have authored eight scientific papers with a total of 241 citations, winning the "Innovative Scientific Achievement Award" on the Research Day at USC in 2015, and being promoted to Assistant Professor of Research at USC in 2017.
2. Please describe your immediate and long-term professional goals.
I feel very confident that my educational background, professional experiences, and contributions in dentistry, dental education and research have prepared me well for advanced placement in a DDS/DMD program for international dentists, which is my immediate professional goal. My long-term professional goal is to serve as a clinical faculty member, dedicating my professional life to the advancement of dentistry through research and education as well as practice. I especially look forward to utilizing my professional experience to solve as yet unsolved practical problems in the clinical realm. My professional dream is to design, develop and apply increasingly safer, more effective therapeutics for treating oral diseases in humans. Therefore, I believe the "Advanced Placement for International Dentists" program will pave the way for me to make my fullest possible contribution to dentistry by putting the degree to work at the service of my community, especially the underserved.
3. Describe (if applicable) your work experience (paid or unpaid) in the U.S. or Canada and how it contributes to your professional experience.
Paid work experience: For the past seven years, I worked as a research scientist at University of Southern California School of Dentistry. My research focuses on studying dental stem cells and tooth regeneration. Being a dentist and researcher, my professional dream is to design, develop and apply safer, more effective therapeutics for treating oral diseases in humans. For instance, as we all know, human tooth enamel cannot repair and regenerate itself after injury, for adult human teeth lose their dental epithelial stem cells after development due to the loss of their living environment. One of my studies using mouse models found that by regulating certain signaling pathways, we can maintain dental epithelial stem cells at adult age through reestablishing their living enviroment. Another study of mine revealed that ameloblasts can normally generate enamel under the support of bony structure, instead of dentin. These discoveries provide unprecedented knowledge to the dental research community, and bears tremendous clinical implications, with respect to providing very useful future strategies for enamel regeneration. In the future, we could regenerate enamel under the support of readily available bone matrix, instead of dentin matrix as a substrate, which is much more difficult to extract than bone. By combining with some active proteins to manipulate the related signaling pathways, we could “reactivate” the stem cells in teeth that are no longer growing and eventually regenerate real natural enamel to repair the injured teeth, instead of using amalgam, composite or porcelain. This is my professional dream and there is still a long way to travel yet, but at least my studies take us a step closer to the final goal.
Unpaid work experience: To develop a deeper understanding of the dental setting in the US and better serve the American community, I started to volunteer as a dental assistant in a dental clinic operated by a clinical faculty in USC School of Dentistry, and in medical outreaches conducted by Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, providing free dental services to low-income and uninsured individuals. I felt very pleased to help people in need and make a difference for others. Also, I witnessed the poor oral health condition among those disadvantaged people, mainly due to their lack of the understanding of the importance of oral health and overall health, and the importance of effective preventive interventions, such as most of them used alcohol and tobacco on a daily base, and rarely used dental floss, etc. This experience also told me that I should put the same effort on both the prevention and the treatment of dental diseases when I practice dentistry.
4. What qualities of XXXX Dental Medicine do you feel will help you achieve your professional goals and how?
Throughout its history, XXXX Dental Medicine has remained faithful to its original mission: “to prepare students for qualification for dental practice, to provide graduate training for qualified practitioners and to create the opportunity and facilities for scientific research in dentistry.” Since its founding, XXXX Dental Medicine has maintained the hub for the international dental career, and the leadership role in the field of dental education, research, and clinical care. Penn Dental Medicine stresses the overall and comprehensive development of the students, providing them with the highest quality environment, and preparing them well to be the future leaders in education, research, and clinical care and service both locally and globally.
XXXX Dental Medicine has extraordinary teaching, research, and clinical teams, equipped with numerous outstanding faculties. For example, Dr. XXXX pioneered the use of the microscope in endodontics, and established the microscope-training center in the school which cultivated a large number of future leaders in the field of endodontics all over the world. Worthy to note, Dr. XXXX developed a series of microinstruments for the modern microsurgery in endodontics, and passed along this remarkable work to the dental students by writing it into the textbook entitled “Color Atlas of Microsurgery in Endodontics.” Also, in the area of research, Dr. XXXX had created plenty of “firsts” in his studies of human mesenchymal stem cells, being the first person isolating and identifying several new populations of mesenchymal stem cells, including dental pulp stem cells, stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth, periodontal ligament stem cells, stem cells from apical papilla, and tendon stem/progenitor cells. Furthermore, Dr. XXXX translated his studies into the clinic, using the mesenchymal stem cells to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), periodontitis, and regenerate pulp tissue in patients. His unprecedented work started a new chapter for the dental translational research and clinical care, which will benefit an enormous population of patients in the future. All of these are just a very tiny part of contributions made by XXXX Dental Medicine to the field of dentistry. Taken together, XXXX Dental Medicine’s exceptional reputation and positive environment in dental education, research, and clinical care attracted numerous students all over the world, including me.
I have a seven-year dental clinical, five-year teaching, and another seven-year research experiences. Being a clinical faculty is my long-term professional goal, doing research to answer the unknown questions in the clinical work, translating the research findings into the clinic to treat patients, and imparting the extensive knowledge to the dental students. Like some of the faculties who graduated from a foreign dental school as me, and now are pursuing their careers as leading clinicians, researchers, and teachers in America, getting enrolled in the advanced program for international dentists is the first step for me to advance my dental career in America. XXXX Dental Medicine is the ideal environment for me to build up my knowledge, develop and mature the skills I need, which will eventually pave the way for me to achieve my final goal.