Martha Somerman, DDS, PhD, is the first woman to receive the Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research from the American Dental Association.

The American Dental Association (ADA) named Martha Somerman, DDS, PhD, the 2021 recipient of the ADA Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research.

Somerman was recognized as the author of seminal research on the development and regeneration of oral tissue affected by gum disease. She served as director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research from 2011 to 2019.

She also served as the principal investigator of the Laboratory of Oral Connective Tissue Biology at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and as senior clinical advisory staff at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health.

ADA president Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD, applauded Somerman for her commitment to professionally developing and motivating those around her.

“Your generous mentorship has produced a talented and diverse cadre of scientists who are transforming the workforce and future of dental science,” said Klemmedson.

As a Gold Medal recipient, Somerman will receive $25,000 and a gold medallion at the SmileCon closing ceremony on October 13. She will also select a fellowship recipient who will receive funding of $20,000 to support their own research.

“Being the recipient of this award makes me acutely aware of my wonderful career and how much I owe to so many people,” said Somerman. “It was almost 50 years ago that I graduated from dental school, class of 1975, a class of 200, with four women, 2% of the class. We’ve come a long way.”

Photo courtesy ADA