Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H., has been named Dean of the University of Florida College of Dentistry (UF COD). Dr. Garcia currently serves as the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Her appointment will take effect in February 2015 when she will become the college’s seventh permanent Dean.
“Dr. Garcia brings a great depth of leadership experience to all the core activities of the UF College of Dentistry and UF Health, from education to public health to research and technology transfer,” says University of Florida President Bernie Machen, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D. “She is the ideal choice to lead the college as UF continues its drive to rise among the nation’s top public universities.”
Dr. Garcia says, “I am delighted and honored by the opportunity to lead the college and look forward to working with its superb faculty, staff, students and alumni in furthering the college’s tradition of excellence in all fronts—education, patient care and research.”
Dr. Garcia’s career spans 34 years in public health, clinical practice, research, teaching and administration at the local, state and national levels. As Deputy Director of the NIDCR, she has shared responsibility for the oversight and management of programs and functions within the Institute—which includes a staff of more than 400 scientists and administrators dedicated to research, training, science policy, health education, communications and financial management.
“After a thorough national search that attracted many top-notch candidates, Dr. Garcia was recognized as the individual who could best lead the UF College of Dentistry to preeminence,” says David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at UF and President of UF Health. “I am confident that under her leadership, our nationally prominent College of Dentistry will gain even greater recognition by expanding the breadth and depth of our research programs and clinical practices while developing innovative and forward-looking approaches to dental education and community partnerships in oral health care.”
A rear admiral lower half in the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. Garcia joined the NIDCR in 1995 and has held multiple leadership roles since. She led NIDCR’s science transfer efforts, directed the Institute’s Office of Science Policy and Analysis and served as Acting NIDCR Director from 2010–2011. Garcia also served as the Institute’s coordinator for global health and took over as Director of NIDCR’s Residency in Dental Public Health program in 2005. Since 1995, she has been a faculty advisor and mentor for more than 30 dental public health residents.
“The Gators are fortunate,” says Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D., Director of the NIDCR. “It has truly been a joy to work with Dr. Garcia. She’s been indispensable in helping me guide the Institute, and I know her strategic thinking and exceptional leadership skills will serve her well in academia. We’ll miss her, but we know she’ll go on to accomplish great things for the University of Florida.”
Dr. Garcia received a D.D.S. in 1980 from Virginia Commonwealth University and an M.P.H. from the University of Michigan in 1988. She subsequently completed a residency in dental public health at the University of Michigan and a fellowship in primary care policy from the U.S. Public Health Service.
While pursuing her master’s degree, Dr. Garcia was a lecturer and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She later served as an adjunct assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Dr. Garcia has received the NIH Director’s Award for Mentoring, the American Association for Dental Research’s Jack Hein Public Service Award and the U.S. Public Health Service Jack D. Robertson Dental Award for outstanding long-term dedication and service to improve the oral health of the nation.
“The University of Florida, with its Health Science Center, is a powerhouse of talent, innovation and collaboration,” Dr. Garcia says. “It is a privilege to be joining such an exceptional team and supporting the visionary efforts of the entire university and its leaders.”