D’Souza Reflects on Career, First Year as NIDCR Director
On Oct. 13, 2020, Dr. Rena D’Souza was sworn in as the new director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.
D’Souza reflected on her career journey, mentorship, leadership, inaugural year as NIDCR director and advice for the Asian-American, Native-Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community in an interview published by NIH’s chapter of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council.
A licensed dentist and scientist, D’Souza—a former NIH grantee who has served on the advisory committee to the NIH director—is recognized for her research in craniofacial development, genetics, tooth development and regenerative dental medicine. She is deeply committed to NIDCR’s mission to advance fundamental knowledge about dental, oral and craniofacial health and disease and translate these findings into prevention, early detection and treatment strategies that improve overall health for all individuals and communities across the lifespan.
D’Souza became NIDCR director during the Covid-19 pandemic. The crisis underscored the fact that the groups most adversely affected by the pandemic were the same ones who struggle to access oral health care. This reinforced the urgency of addressing health disparities to improve oral health for all.
In the interview, D’Souza highlights the importance of being proactive in one’s career and setting goals in 5-year increments. Her leadership style is to be consultative, open, transparent and to value the uniqueness of individuals. As a leader, she recognizes the importance of uniting people towards a shared vision.
Family is the center of D’Souza’s life. She loves the outdoors, walks, yoga, Pilates and music. She loves people and entertaining, having met many new friends since moving from Utah.
For the full interview, visit https://www.fapac.org/resources/Documents/Newsletters/FAPAC%20Headlines%202021%20Winter%20Edition.pdf.—Starsky Cheng, Phalla Messina and Catherine Evans