Harold Slavkin to Head USC School of Dentistry

by Bob Calverley
Harold C. Slavkin

Harold C. Slavkin, currently director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, one of the National Institutes of Health, will serve as dean of the USC School of Dentistry.

“Harold Slavkin’s outstanding record as a scientist, teacher and leader and his long association with USC uniquely prepare him for the challenges and opportunities he will face as dean of the School of Dentistry,” said Lloyd Armstrong Jr., USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, who announced the appointment in December.

Slavkin is one of the world’s leading authorities on craniofacial development and genetic birth defects. He is the author of “Developmental Craniofacial Biology,” published by Lea and Febiger in 1979, and he has edited nine books, contributed 107 chapters in books and published 260 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

During Slavkin’s tenure as director of the NIDCR, the institute’s budget has increased from $164 million to $270 million. After fulfilling his five-year commitment to the NIDCR, Slavkin will officially assume the duties of dean next August.

“American dentistry is the best in the world, and its pre-eminence is in no small measure due to USC’s contribution,” Slavkin said.

“I see opportunities at USC that do not exist anywhere else in the world. I am absolutely thrilled to have the privilege to continue the legacy of dentistry at the University of Southern California in the coming biotechnology century.”

Throughout his career, Slavkin has balanced academic and professional achievements with service. A native of Chicago, he was a dental technician as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army Dental Corps before attending USC, where he received with honors a B.A. degree in English literature in 1961 and earned his D.D.S. from the School of Dentistry in 1965.

For the next seven years, he was a practicing dentist in Westwood while doing research as a postdoctoral fellow, first at the UCLA School of Medicine and then in the USC department of biochemistry. He has been a member of the USC School of Dentistry faculty since 1968.

SLAVKIN’S WIDE-RANGING scientific and teaching activities at USC have led to many productive interdisciplinary collaborations among faculty and students at the School of Dentistry, the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Rossier School of Education, the Andrus Gerontology Center and the Graduate School. One important research thrust involved the use of bioengineering techniques to clone tooth-enamel genes.

SLAVKIN WAS FOUNDING director of the School of Dentistry’s Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology and was the first holder of the school’s George and Mary Lou Boone Chair in Craniofacial Molecular Biology. He was principal or co-principal investigator on 27 research grants, mentored 42 graduate and postdoctoral fellows, and sponsored numerous visiting scientists.

The School of Dentistry honored Slavkin as Alumnus of the Year in 1999.

Slavkin is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Dental Association, and the International Association for Dental Research. He writes a monthly column for the Journal of the American Dental Association.

“Slavkin is a man of vision who will not be content to be merely a caretaker of USC dentistry’s traditions,” said Gerald Vale, interim dean of the school since Howard M. Landesman resigned, late in 1998, to accept the deanship at the University of Colorado School of Dentistry.

The USC School of Dentistry was established in 1897 as the first dental school in Southern California. Today, it ranks first in NIDCR research funding among the nation’s private dental schools.