it was a question that NYUCD had asked many months earlier, when the College proposed
theestablishment of a Center on Catastrophic Events at New York University. We reasoned
that it would not be enough for society to trust its future to the plans of the FBI, the
CIA, the military, and FEMA. As good as those agencies may be, they often operate in secret,
are subject to the budgetary constraints of a given administration, do not mobilize large
numbers of civilians or work in close cooperation with local governments, academic institutions,
and other countries around the world to provide a coordinated network of information and
initiatives. We argued further that these agencies might be willing to accept more risk,
or collateral damage, than society-at-large. Accordingly, we called for the
creation of an academically-driven global forum for public debate on issues of terrorism
catastrophe preparedness and response.
The proposed Center would catalyze a debate on scores of relevant topics, including analysis
of the political seeds of terrorism, genetic studies of biological weapons, evacuation
plans that have previously received little public vetting, and development of a national
system of public first responders physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists,
and EMTs. Ultimately, the faculty of the Center on Catastrophic Events would become experts
for the media to call on in times of crisis and would help frame the national debate,
thereby providing an outstanding service to society.
detail from the pages of the post-September 11 "mailgram" sent to NYUCD
by the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry.
Following the events of September 11, NYU did submit a proposal to Congress to create
a Center on Terrorism Preparedness and Response, and we are optimistic that funding will
be awarded. Just days after the terrorist attack, in another ironic twist of fate, NYUCD
presented an abbreviated version of a Continuing Education course called A Health
Professionals Response to the Terrorist Threat, which had been scheduled months
earlier. This course also grew out of our concern about the countrys lack of preparedness
to respond to catastrophic events in general, and to terrorism in particular.
Then on November 3rd, in the belief that we should all know much more about how to respond
to terrorism, NYUCD presented a free, half-day continuing education course on terrorism,
which drew a huge crowd of alumni to Saklad Auditorium. Our expectation is that they will
go on to educate colleagues about what they too can do to protect their communities, their
patients, and their families. We have also been talking to leaders in the New York State
Dental Association, the New York State Academic Dental Centers, and across the country
about a larger initiative to build a role for dentistry in mass disaster preparedness.
You can read about our plans in the article entitled Rising from the Ashes: Dentistrys
Role in National Security.
In this issue of Global Health Nexus youll also find an article entitled In
Their Own Words, which recounts the perspectives of members of the NYUCD community
who fanned out to sites throughout the city to volunteer their services immediately after
the terrorist attacks. And NYUCD alumnus Dr. Jeffrey Burkes, 75, who serves as the
Chief Dental Consultant to the Office of the New York City Medical Examiner, talks about
his teams involvement in forensic identification of victims in Practicing
ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE
No nation in history has learned a harder lesson about the need
for terrorism preparedness than ours. Thankfully, however, the sadness and gloom that
all Americans are feeling has been offset somewhat by overwhelming evidence of our enormous
capacity as a nation for strength, support, and compassion. Indeed, from the students
and faculty at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry came a shining example
of the great moral surge, noted by NYUs president-elect, John Sexton,
that has been felt throughout the country since the events of September 11. It came in
the form of a gorgeous oversize mailgram. Entitled From Our UOP Family
Were Thinking About You, the mail-gram contains hundreds of
signed messages of hope and prayers for the well being of all of us at NYUCD. It is an
incredible message of warmth and concern which we will always cherish.
At NYUCD we are also heartened by several exciting new developments that are featured
in this issue of Global Health Nexus, including an $8.3 million NIDCR award to establish
the NYU Oral Cancer Disparities Research Center, the opening of a new state-of-the-art
clinical simulation facility, the appointment of additional world-class scientists and
educators to our faculty, and the promotion of outstanding current faculty members.
As you read this issue of Global Health Nexus, be assured that the NYU College of Dentistry,
located in the worlds capital city, continues its forward momentum even as we mourn
our losses, rebuild our city, and reaffirm its centrality as a source of great opportunity,
diversity, and energy.