From the UConn Foundation’s newsletter, Our Moment (June 2012)
Dr. Flavio Uribe, director of the orthodontic clinic and postgraduate program at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, has been awarded the Dr. Charles J. Burstone Endowed Professorship in Orthodontics.
“Dr. Uribe is one of the new leaders in the world of academic orthodontics, and is widely respected in his field. He shares that distinction with Dr. Burstone, who helped build our internationally renowned orthodontics program,” says Dr. R. Lamont MacNeil, dean of the School of Dental Medicine.
Dr. Ravindra Nanda, professor and chair of the Division of Orthodontics, says, “In my 40 years in education, I have not seen such a well-rounded educator. Dr. Uribe is an excellent clinician, researcher, and teacher. He collaborates with many individuals from the basic and clinical sciences. He understands that the future of innovation comes through collaboration. Dr. Uribe is always searching for the next step, a new angle, a new application.”
Uribe earned a master’s of dental science and certificate in orthodontics from the UConn School of Dental Medicine in 2002. Uribe decided Farmington was the right place to build his career. He became an assistant professor in 2002, program director in 2005, and associate professor in 2009. He says he stayed at UConn because it offered an incomparable opportunity.
“Staying at UConn was important because this department has been active in research and fostering an academic environment where many of the current leaders in the field – at the national and international levels – have trained,” says Uribe.
Uribe divides his time among clinical care, research, and teaching. “I’m a clinician by training, with a great interest in basic science,” he says. “Innovation is bridging the basic sciences with clinical practice through translational research.”
Uribe now carries on the legacy of Professor Emeritus Dr. Charles Burstone. Burstone was chief of orthodontic services from 1971 to 1992. During his tenure, he also held an appointment as professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the School of Engineering.
“It is extremely humbling to receive this honor in the name of Dr. Burstone,” says Uribe. “Dr. Burstone is one of the fathers of modern orthodontics. He’s an inventor, a thinker, and one of a kind. My task is clear: to live up to Dr. Burstone’s name and continue to maintain the tradition of excellence of our orthodontic program.”
Burstone was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 2011 in recognition of his many contributions to the School of Dental Medicine and the field of orthodontics. Through his philanthropy, Burstone has ensured that the school continues attracting excellent faculty who can break new ground in orthodontics research. After retiring in 1994, he established the professorship in 2001 and the Burstone Initiative for Translational Research in Dentistry in 2010.
Uribe is investigating the biology of orthodontic tooth movement in the lab, while advancing state-of-the-art treatment in the clinic. “I am very passionate about the research we are doing,” he says. “We are continuing the biomechanics research that Dr. Burstone pioneered and made UConn world-renowned for. Until recently, our emphasis was on the mechanics. Now we’re interested in advancing knowledge of the biology.”
Like Burstone, Uribe is a trailblazer: “We are also the only institution working on exciting surgical approaches aided by 3-D imaging to enhance tooth movement and expedite treatment times.”
Funding from the professorship will be used to further Uribe’s work.
“Orthodontic research, although important, is not a top priority for public funding agencies. Nonetheless, there is a lot to be understood in the biology of orthodontics,” says Nanda, the chair of orthodontics. “The funding from this professorship ensures that we can continue answering important questions that remain unanswered in our field.”