Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences named Fortinos Panagakos, DMD, as the first dean of its School of Dental Medicine.

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) has hired Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, as the founding dean of its developing School of Dental Medicine (SDM).

Panagakos aims to establish a school that improves oral health outcomes for patients in rural and medically underserved communities throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“I am honored to have been selected as the founding dean for the PNWU School of Dental Medicine,” said Panagakos. “Developing a new dental school provides a tremendous opportunity to create a program that will leverage interprofessional education partnerships with the other PNWU academic programs, place our students into community-based clinics to care for the underserved, and enhance the diversity of the practicing community.”

Having worked in and around dentistry for nearly 30 years, including private dental practice, dental education, dental research and clinical development, and more, Panagakos brings knowledge and experience to the non-profit university.

He comes to PNWU, having most recently served as the associate dean for research and postdoctoral affairs at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry. From July 2020 until May 2021, he served as the school’s interim dean.

“I have seen firsthand the impact poor oral and overall health has on the residents of West Virginia,” said Panagakos. “We need to train primary care dentists that can provide exceptional oral healthcare and screen for chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, to effectively collaborate with the other healthcare providers in the community and serve as a health resource for their patients.”

Panagakos is the co-author of over 88 peer-reviewed scientific research articles and co-editor of 3 dental science textbooks.

His areas of interest include the role of inflammation in oral and overall health, the impact of nutrition on oral health and wellness, and the effects of enhanced oral health benefits through Medicaid and Medicare on wellness and socioeconomic measures among rural and underserved adults.

“We are very pleased to welcome Dr Panagakos to PNWU as the Founding Dean of the developing School of Dental Medicine,” said Michael Lawler, PhD, president of PNWU. “He will lead the development of a nationally unique, community-based School of Dental Medicine that will prepare primary care dentists to collaborate with interprofessional healthcare teams in service to rural and medically underserved communities of the Pacific Northwest.”

Photo via PNWU