William V. Giannobile.

William V. Giannobile, D.M.Sc. ’96, will assume his role as dean of Harvard School of Dental Medicine on Sept. 1.

Campus & Community

New dean for School of Dental Medicine

6 min read

Alumnus William Giannobile coming from University of Michigan School of Dentistry

William V. Giannobile, an educator and leader in the field of periodontology and an internationally recognized scholar in oral regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and precision medicine, has been named dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). The appointment was announced today by Harvard Medical School (HMS) Dean George Q. Daley.

Giannobile is an alumnus of HSDM, with an advanced degree in periodontology and oral biology (D.M.Sc. ’96). He completed his postdoctoral training in molecular biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and HMS. Giannobile served as an HSDM faculty member and worked at the affiliated Forsyth Institute early in his career.

Giannobile is the Najjar Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. He has served as chair of the department for the past eight years and is also a professor of biomedical engineering in the university’s College of Engineering.

“I am thrilled to welcome Will back to the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Longwood Medical Area,” said Daley. “Having roots in our community and experience as a passionate and productive leader of a major department at a premier dental school make him perfectly suited to take the helm at HSDM during this unprecedented time. Our Medical and Dental Schools are inextricably linked, and I look forward to Will’s partnership toward our shared mission of improving health for all through education, research, and service.”

Giannobile will assume the role of HSDM dean on Sept. 1, succeeding Bruce Donoff, who stepped down at the end of 2019 after serving 28 years in the post.

“The Harvard School of Dental Medicine is an extraordinary institution with a remarkable history of advancing research and education in service to humanity,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “We are so pleased to welcome Will Giannobile, a leader who will help to ensure the School’s continued success as we seek more opportunities to support and expand the work of the University’s diversely talented biomedical community.”

“His distinctive scientific accomplishments, combined with his strong leadership experience and reputation at Michigan, across the U.S., and throughout the world, ideally prepare him to lead a distinguished school of dental medicine like Harvard.”

Laurie McCauley, Dean of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry

As HSDM’s dean, Giannobile will advance the School’s predoctoral and postdoctoral educational programs, transform clinical care, and further enhance the HSDM’s reputation as a renowned leader in research and dental education. He will work closely with Daley and other Harvard University leaders, as well as affiliated hospitals, institutions, and community clinics to advance HSDM’s mission.

“The Harvard School of Dental Medicine is a pillar of the Harvard life-sciences ecosystem, integrating oral health with medicine. It has deep connections within the Longwood community and throughout the University,” said Harvard Provost Alan Garber. “Will Giannobile, with his wide-ranging accomplishments as a scholar, leader, teacher, and practitioner, is uniquely suited to head a school whose approach to dental health draws heavily on medicine, bioengineering, and public health. He brings to the role a deep set of relevant experiences and a longstanding commitment to the field of dental education. I am confident that under his leadership HSDM will augment the strengths of the broader Harvard community.”

“I am so appreciative of President Bacow, Provost Garber, and HMS Dean Daley for this incredible opportunity to serve HSDM community as the new dean,” Giannobile said. “The tradition of excellence of the School as a leader in global education, research, clinical care, and societal impact creates exciting new avenues of interactions with our diverse array of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends. The Longwood Medical Area and fruitful partnerships with the Medical School and affiliates create opportunities for collaboration to promote science, innovation, and education. I feel honored to continue building on the legacy of outstanding leadership at Harvard.”

Giannobile brings an extensive scientific background to the role. At the University of Michigan, he leads a laboratory that explores methods for growth-factor delivery, such as gene therapy, for restoring periodontal tissue loss. His continuously-funded National Institutes of Health research program focuses on oral and periodontal regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and personalized medicine. He also serves as the co-principal investigator of the NIH-funded Michigan-Pittsburgh-Wyss Regenerative Medicine Resource Center. Additionally, he is the former editor in chief of the Journal of Dental Research, the official journal of the International Association for Dental Research.

“Will Giannobile is that rare clinician-scientist who excels in both the science and practice of dentistry. His distinctive scientific accomplishments, combined with his strong leadership experience and reputation at Michigan, across the U.S., and throughout the world, ideally prepare him to lead a distinguished school of dental medicine like Harvard,” Laurie McCauley, dean of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, said.

Giannobile has been recognized for his teaching and research with several accolades. In 2003, he received the Henry Russel, Jr. Faculty Award for Excellence in Research and Teaching from the University of Michigan. He is also a recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Academy of Periodontology. In 2018, he was recognized with the American Dental Association’s Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research.

In announcing Giannobile’s appointment, Daley expressed gratitude to the search committee and to those in the HSDM community who contributed their valuable input to the process. He also thanked Vicki Rosen, co-chair of the committee, and interim HSDM dean.

“I’m delighted to welcome Will as the new dean of HSDM. I know he will bring an exciting new vision to HSDM,” said Rosen. “As an alumnus who is familiar with the HSDM community, he knows the School’s distinctive history and is well-poised to shape its future. I’m looking forward to working with him in the months ahead.”

The new dean takes the helm at a time when HSDM will enroll its most diverse predoctoral class in recent history. An important focus of the School is to advance diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and encourage those underrepresented in health care to consider careers in dentistry.

“Dr. Giannobile arrives at the Dental School with a strong reputation for supporting the entry and advancement of diverse students, trainees, faculty, and staff,” said Joan Reede, HMS dean for diversity and community partnership. “I extend a warm welcome and look forward to future collaborations between HSDM and the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership that bring us closer to actualizing our shared missions and values.”

“An important goal of mine will be to help support our amazing students for their success during their time of attending one of the very best institutions for dental education and oral health research in the world,” said Giannobile.