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Dental Digest Podcast with Dr. Melissa Seibert

Sep 1, 2023


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Joana Cunha-Cruz, D.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., has joined the faculty of the UAB School of Dentistry to foster research collaborations and support the work of the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN).

As a Professor and Director of Practice-based and Community-based Research, she will also serve as National Director of Communications & Dissemination for the National Dental PBRN ( and the Assistant Director of its South Central Region. Her appointment is in the Department of Clinical & Community Sciences, Division of Behavioral & Population Sciences.

Cunha-Cruz is a public health and clinical researcher with more than 10 years of public health academic experience. She uses oral epidemiology, behavioral and implementation sciences and evidence-based practice methods to understand and improve dental practices and systems for better health and health equity.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Cunha-Cruz has joined our team.” said Gregg Gilbert, D.D.S., M.B.A., Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Clinical & Community Sciences. “With her background in the public health and clinical research arenas, as well as her expertise in strategic partnerships, she will help us enrich our collaborative research efforts within the department, school, and university, as well as nationally. We are delighted to welcome her aboard.”

Cunha-Cruz earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the State University of Pernambuco and holds Master’s and PhD degrees in Public Health – Epidemiology from the State University of Rio de Janeiro. She joins UAB from the University of Washington Schools of Dentistry and Public Health in Seattle, WA, where she conducted NIH-funded community-based and practice-based studies and taught epidemiology and critical appraisal of the literature.


Nathaniel Lawson DMD PhD is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Division of Biomaterials at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry. He graduated from UAB School of Dentistry in 2011 and obtained his PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 2012. He has served as an investigator on over 75 research grants, published over 200 articles, abstracts, book chapters, and periodicals related to dental materials. His research interests are the mechanical, optical, and biologic properties of dental materials and clinical evaluation of new dental materials. He was the 2016 recipient of the ADA Stanford New Investigator Award, the 2017 3M Innovative Research Fellowship, and the 2020 Mentor of the Year Award from the American Association of Dental Research. He has lectured nationally and internationally on the subject of dental materials. He also works as a general dentist in the UAB Faculty Practice.