Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine has received a major gift that will provide the resources to help build the School’s leadership role in global oral (public) health. A $5 million gift from Penn Dental Medicine alumnus Dr. Garry Rayant (GD’77) and his wife, Dr. Kathy Fields, will create a new endowed professorship at the School and provide foundational support to establish the Center for Integrative Global Oral Health.
“We are immensely grateful to Garry Rayant (GD’77) and Kathy Fields for this exceptional gift,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Penn Dental Medicine has long been a pioneer in advancing innovations that transform dental education, research, and practice here in Philadelphia and throughout the world. This inspired commitment will continue that work by creating the Fields-Rayant Endowed Professorship and allowing us to take significant steps toward launching a new Center for Integrative Global Oral Health.”
“The tremendous vision and generosity of Dr. Rayant and Dr. Fields will have a far-reaching impact,” says Penn Dental Medicine’s Morton Amsterdam Dean, Dr. Mark S. Wolff. “Through this new Center, we will be able to elevate the discussion on the vital role of oral heath as part of overall health, to influence local, national, and global oral health policy, and to educate and train graduates to lead in developing public policy and addressing health inequities.”
The endowed Fields-Rayant Professorship will provide the first step in organizing the Center, enabling the recruitment of a thought leader to work with faculty, develop curricula, and leverage partnerships within the University and beyond in formulating an initial plan of investigation. Some of the primary goals of the Center include developing curricula for DMD and Master’s-level training in issues of oral disease prevention, social-behavioral and commercial determinants of (oral) health, and integration of oral health as part of overall health, including the establishment of a Penn Dental Medicine Master of Public Oral Health degree; conducting health policy and health systems research from both domestic and global perspectives; and advancing dialogue in these areas with educators, practitioners, and policy makers.
“Kathy and I believe that Penn Dental Medicine has the capacity to be a tremendous force in amplifying the current dialogue about global and integrative oral health,” says Dr. Rayant, who is a member of the Penn Dental Medicine Board of Advisors and will Chair the initial advisory group for the Center. “In keeping with Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, Surgeon General’s 2020 report and priorities, the Center will evaluate the interaction between oral health and general health throughout the lifespan and consider advances in science, health care integration, and social influences to articulate promising new directions for improving oral health and oral health equity across communities. The impact of one of the oldest and most highly regarded dental schools in the United States taking on this work will be profound; we are excited to be part of it and for the many affiliated faculties that Penn uniquely brings to bear.”
Dr. Rayant has had a long-time interest in oral epidemiology, dental public health, and health behavior. He earned his Bachelor in Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from London Hospital Medical College Dental School, London University (1972); Licentiate in Dental Surgery (LDS, RCS) from the Royal College of Surgeons of England; Master’s (MS) degree in Periodontology with his thesis in Behavioral Science, London University (1975); was an Annenberg Scholar to Penn Dental Medicine’s postdoctoral periodontal program (1977); and holds a DDS, state of California (1980). A specialist in periodontics and implant dentistry, an entrepreneur, and philanthropist, he retired from clinical practice in December 2018. Dr. Rayant is editor-in-chief emeritus of Dear Doctor Magazine Inc., a print and online national consumer healthcare magazine, for which he was co-founder and partner along with Penn alumnus Dr. Mario Vilardi, (GD ’77). In addition to serving on the Board of Advisors to Penn Dental Medicine, he also serves on the Board of Advisors of the University of Pennsylvania Advanced Judaic Studies Program.
Dr. Rayant is active in the area of education and educational reform: he is Chair of the Advisory Committee at the Center for Children & Youth, JFCS Bay Area; and a member of the Advisory Board of Stanford University’s Challenge Success program, Tulane University’s President’s Council, the International Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University, American Friends Tel Aviv University Board of Directors (Chair, Communications Committee), and Board of Directors of Tel Aviv University’s School of Neuroscience “Minducate” program. He is also a member of the AIPAC National Council.
In addition, Dr. Rayant is a member (emeritus) of the Board of Directors of Rodan & Fields, the premium skincare brand founded by his wife, Dr. Kathy Fields, and her partner, Dr. Katie Rodan. After meeting at Stanford University School of Medicine in the 1980s, Drs. Fields and Rodan developed Proactiv® Solution in 1995 and launched their second skin care company, Rodan & Fields, in 2008. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company has continued to grow its innovative dermatologically based line of products and is the #1 premium skin care brand in North America.
“By creating this Center, we will be challenging the oral health community – and particularly oral health educators – to move well beyond producing technically adept professionals operating in isolation from other health providers,” adds Dean Wolff. “Rather, we will become a visible force for integrative health, speaking truth to power about prevention and solidifying the role of the dentist as fundamental to ensuring the public’s overall good health.”
Penn Dental Medicine plans to launch a multi-year fundraising initiative to match the $5 million contribution from Drs. Rayant and Fields to capitalize the new Center with an enduring endowment.