After earning a BDS degree in 1974 from Osmania University Medical & Dental College in his native India, Dr. Bapanaiah Penugonda moved to Belize in Central America to begin dental practice. In Belize, he encountered a frustrating situation, as patients with serious posterior decay were determined to spend their limited funds on flashy gold crowns for anterior aesthetic restorations. Realizing that there was no economical alternative to gold, Dr. Penugonda soon began thinking about developing a second career in materials research, and when he learned that NYUCD offered a master's degree in dental materials (now known as the master's degree in biomaterials), he moved to New York in 1980 to enroll in the program, while also earning a dental degree at NYU.
After graduation, Dr. Penugonda opened a private practice in midtown Manhattan, went on to develop an alloy that has since been widely adopted as an economical alternative to gold in dental restorations, and in 1982, joined NYUCD's faculty, where he currently serves as an Associate Professor of Cariology & Comprehensive Care and Group Practice Director.
"Dr. Penugonda is a perfect example of how far it's possible to advance when you are ambitious and take advantage of the rich array of educational and research resources available to you," said Dr. Mark Wolff, Associate Dean for Predoctoral Clinical Education and Professor and Chair of the Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care.
"My professors in the DDS and dental materials programs encouraged me to pursue my career goals and opened my eyes to rewarding opportunities in biomaterials research, teaching, and private practice," says Dr. Penugonda.
"Today, I maintain a part-time private practice, oversee clinical training for more than 50 students, am involved in developing new tooth-whitening products and composites, and conduct research on the environmental implications of biomaterials disposal. I travel abroad frequently to present my research findings and lecture on advances in cariology and comprehensive care. I also serve as president of the NYUCD chapter of Sigma Xi, an international honor society of research scientists and engineers. It's a wonderful, multifaceted professional life."