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Vol. LXIII, No. 11
May 27, 2011

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Somerman Named NIDCR Director

On the front page...

Dr. Martha Somerman

Dr. Martha Somerman will become director of NIDCR late this summer; she is currently dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

Dr. Martha J. Somerman has been appointed director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. She is currently dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, a position she has held since 2002. She is expected to begin her duties as NIDCR director late this summer.

“I am delighted that Dr. Somerman will be bringing her exceptional research expertise and administrative skills to this leadership position at the NIDCR,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, who announced the appointment on May 2. “I would also like to thank Dr. Isabel Garcia for her outstanding service as acting director of NIDCR since August 2010.”

Somerman will oversee a budget of $410 million and lead a staff of more than 400 researchers and administrators on campus as well as hundreds of grantees at universities, medical schools, dental schools and other research institutions.

“As you can imagine, the opportunity to lead an entire field of scientific research is tremendously exciting,” Somerman said.


An internationally known researcher and educator, her research has focused on defining the key regulators controlling development, maintenance and regeneration of oral-dental-craniofacial tissues. Her work has been recognized with numerous honors and awards.

Before joining the University of Washington, Somerman was on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry from 1991 to 2002. There, she served as a professor and chair of periodontics/prevention and geriatrics and also held an appointment as professor of pharmacology at the School of Medicine. From 1984 to 1991, she was on the faculty of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

Somerman has been a long-standing member of the NIH and NIDCR communities, having received her first NIH grant in 1987. In the early 1980s, she was a staff fellow in the dental institute’s intramural research program. She served on the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council from 1999 to 2002.

A native of Brooklyn, she holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a D.D.S. from New York University, a master’s degree in environmental health from Hunter College and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Rochester. She completed her periodontal residency at Eastman Dental Center in Rochester. NIHRecord Icon

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