Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, PhD, has been named interim dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, effective July 1. He will assume the responsibilities held by departing dean Anthony Tom Borgia, DDS, MA, who is retiring after 10 years with the School.
An experienced educator, private dental care practitioner and oral healthcare industry research expert, Panagakos will continue to serve in his current position as vice dean of administration and research.
“Foti’s extensive knowledge in oral health research, experience in clinical care and his capable leadership abilities will allow the School to transition seamlessly over the next several months,” Clay Marsh, MD, WVU Health Sciences vice president and executive dean, said. “He also understands the important relationship the School of Dentistry holds with the community and the commitment we have to providing preventive oral health services to our state's citizens.”
Panagakos joined the School of Dentistry in August 2018, and brought his interest in focusing on the effects that improved oral health has on chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia. He has a successful history of obtaining grant funding for research projects and is the co-editor of three books focusing on gingival disease, oral lesions and evidence-based interventions for common oral conditions.
“I am very fortunate to be following Dr. Borgia as he has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to raise the school up to where it is today,” Panagakos said. “I realize the foundation that Dr. Borgia has provided makes the path forward easier, in light of our current situation. Before COVID-19, I had described the task ahead as akin to climbing a hill. COVID-19 has made that hill steeper.”
Panagakos has been an instrumental leader in the School of Dentistry’s response to the debilitating pandemic that put academics and patient care on hold for several weeks.
Working with the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Innovation Hub, he was able to procure face shields designed specifically for the School’s providers who require personal protective equipment customized to accommodate loupes and lights. As an Army reservist, he worked to coordinate free dental screenings for student veterans and others within the West Virginia Army National Guard.
Marsh will conduct a national search for the permanent dean position.