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Faculty, student reap honors

Published on Monday, February 19, 2024

By: Patrice Guilfoyle, pguilfoyle@umc.edu

Medical Center faculty and staff often are recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for their academic or medical achievements. These accolades place UMMC among health science centers worldwide.

IHL names Compretta top diversity educator

Congratulating Compretta, second from left, on her accomplishment are, from left, husband Jonathan Compretta; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs; Dr. Joshua Mann, chair of preventive medicine; and Dr. Lee Bidwell, associate vice chancellor for research. Jay Ferchaud/ UMMC Photography
Congratulating Dr. Caroline Compretta, second from left, on her accomplishment are, from left, husband Jonathan Compretta; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs; Dr. Joshua Mann, chair of preventive medicine; and Dr. Lee Bidwell, associate vice chancellor for research.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning recognized Dr. Caroline Compretta, assistant vice chancellor for research and associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as the 2024 Diversity Educator of the Year.

Compretta was honored for her broad scope of work that includes research in community-engaged partnerships in rural Mississippi, dedication to serving underrepresented populations and efforts to mentor early career faculty, residents and students.

“This award helps shed light on the important work being done at UMMC to improve health disparities for Mississippians across the state and I’m honored to be a part of these efforts,” she said. 

IHL recognized Compretta along with several educators from across the state’s public university system for their contributions to the positive advancement of diversity on campuses and communities. The awards program, which began in 1992, is presented as part of the Board’s observance of Black History Month.

Nominees from each of the state’s eight public universities and the University of Mississippi Medical Center are recognized with the Diversity Award for Excellence. One nominee is selected by the Diversity Committee of the Board as the Diversity Educator of the Year.

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UMMC School of Dentistry faculty publishes book on AI in dentistry

Dr. Rohan Jagtap holds his book, "Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry." Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Photography
Dr. Rohan Jagtap holds his book, "Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry."

Dr. Rohan Jagtap, assistant professor and director of the division of oral and maxillofacial radiology published the first new book in the School of Dentistry’s recent history. His book, “Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry,” was sold out across major retailers within days of its release on Jan. 11. 

“This is the hard work of about 20 clinicians, specialists, engineers, and scientists from all over the world,” said Jagtap. “If you combine their experience, it’s almost 500 years in the field.”

Jagtap is a world-renowned clinician and researcher in the field of artificial intelligence and dentistry. He performed a leading role in the sections of AI in oral medicine/pathology, endodontics and radiology and diagnostic images for the American Dental Association’s white paper, Dental Informatics: Overview of Artificial and Augmented Intelligence Uses in Dentistry. It was “designed to provide the best information on AI available (as of early 2022) in dental imaging and other areas of dentistry where imaging may impact the use of AI (or vice versa),” according to the report.

His 365-page book provides evidence-based data surrounding AI-supported pathways for the diagnosis and treatment of many dental issues. It goes in-depth about the technical and medical applications of AI that extend across different specialties of dentistry, encompassing oral and maxillofacial radiology, implant dentistry, endodontics, prosthodontics, restorative dentistry, periodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pathology and orthodontics. The book also includes insights into studies exploring machine learning, deep learning and artificial neural networks.

“This is the first American book of its kind,” said Jagtap. “No one in the country had published something like this until now. I feel like it’s not just pride for myself and my family, but also a success for the institution and for the state of Mississippi.”

The comprehensive guide is intended to serve as a resource for dentists, specialists and scientists seeking to advance their knowledge, training and expertise in the ever-evolving world of AI. The book even discerns the medico-legal aspects of AI and how to navigate the new tech landscape responsibly.

“It covers every detailed aspect, not just an overview on each topic,” said Jagtap. “Applications in dentistry and every specialty, obstructive sleep apnea, temporomandibular joint disorders, 3D printing and bio-printing, dental education, image processing, the advantages, disadvantage, and limitations of AI in the field, everything.”

The book offers a forward-looking exploration of AI's potential and future perspectives in the dental field, paving the way for a new era in oral health care. This unique resource empowers readers to stay at the forefront of innovation and enables them to embrace the AI revolution in dentistry and ensure their readiness for the future of dental practice.

“The publication of his book is a win for not only the UMMC School of Dentistry, but for all practitioners and scientists as they navigate integrating AI into dental care,” said Dr. Sreenivas Koka, School of Dentistry dean.

Jagtap will have a book signing in the Student Union Ballrooms on March 1 from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. Register here prior to Feb. 29 if you plan to attend.

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Medical student garners prestigious scholarship award

Portrait of Dr. Garner Fincher

Garner Fincher, a second-year medical student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, has been named a scholarship recipient by the American Cochlear Implant Alliance for CI2024 Vancouver: 17th International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Other Implantable Technologies.

The conference will be held in Vancouver, Canada, July 10-13.

Fincher of Greenwood was one of 21 applicants enrolled in hearing science and medical programs who were chosen for this prestigious award; they represent 20 different institutions of higher learning, including Emory University, University of Chicago, Georgetown University School of Medicine, University of California, Davis; and Harvard Medical School.

Fincher, who is in the MD-PhD Program at UMMC, became interested in ENT as an area of research when he was a student in the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences.

“Everyone in the graduate school and medical school and the ENT department has been so helpful,” he said.

“They want you to get involved and they provide you with an amazing amount of opportunities. All the doctors I have met in ENT have been welcoming to students and been willing to get us involved as much as possible.”

During his first year of medical school, he was able to observe Dr. Thomas Eby, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, perform cochlear implants, which fostered his interest in that area.

Fincher also acknowledged the influence of his PhD mentor, Dr. Bradley Walters, associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery; and Dr. Jeff Carron, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, the faculty advisor for the ENT Student Interest Group.

“Dr. Carron sent information about the scholarship to the interest group, so I decided to apply for it,” Fincher said.

Scholarships were open to full-time students, fellows and postdoctoral scholars who have a clinical or research interest in cochlear implants.

A committee of professionals representing the hearing health spectrum reviewed the applicants. All of the selected applicants submitted poster presentations covering their own research and interests and will participate in the Student Poster Competition at the conference, which has the theme of Cochlear Implantation: Facilitating the Patient Journey.