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Marnie Oakley was named dean of Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine


Following an extensive national search, Marnie Oakley, associate professor of restorative dentistry and comprehensive care at Pitt, has been named the new dean of the School of Dental Medicine, effective Oct. 1. Oakley has served Pitt Dental Medicine for nearly three decades in roles of increasing leadership responsibility, including most recently for a combined 18 months as interim dean. Pitt Dental Medicine is among the nation’s premier dental schools and is the only Pitt health sciences school that operates its own independent outpatient clinical centers.

“Marnie has a long and proven record of leading teams with an entrepreneurial and creative approach to achieve key strategic goals,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “We are confident that her continued leadership will help to further elevate the school’s mission regionally and nationally while also advancing key community outreach and service goals.”

Passionate about dental education and care equity, Oakley launched an innovative paid dental assistant apprenticeship program earlier this year to address the national shortage of dental care auxiliary staff while also increasing educational opportunities and dental services in underserved areas. The program partners with Pittsburgh Public Schools and is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Additionally, she recruited seven new high-caliber faculty via Pitt health sciences’ Race and Social Determinants of Equity, Health, and Well-Being Cluster Hire Initiative, including three appointed to chair clinical departments, and laid the groundwork for increased translational and clinical research at the school. In fiscal year 2023, the school generated $9 million in clinical production — a historic high.

“I’m fortunate to work with so many outstanding faculty, staff and students who care so deeply about their work, which is the core of our success,” said Oakley. “I look forward to our continued collaborations to advance oral health education, research, clinical care and service throughout and beyond southwestern Pennsylvania.”

An enthusiastic Pitt alumna, Oakley earned her BS in Biology and her DMD from the University of Pittsburgh and began her professional career serving an active duty, four-year tour as a dental officer in the United States Navy. She joined Pitt Dental Medicine as a clinical instructor in 1996. Her many subsequent promotions include chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Comprehensive Care (2005-2011), associate dean for clinical affairs (2011-2018) and senior associate dean for clinical and faculty affairs (2018-2021).

More news from Pitt Dental

Two Pitt Dental Medicine faculty members were recently part of an effort to combat opioid overuse by developing new pain management guidelines for children.

According to the panel, which included Professor Emeritus Paul Moore and Assistant Professor Deborah Polk, drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are enough to manage the pain children experience after a tooth extraction or during a toothache, when administered by a health care professional.

The guidelines were endorsed by the American Dental Association and also caught the attention of media, including coverage in HealthDay and a reprint in U.S. News & World Report.

“While prescribing opioids to children has become less frequent overall, this guideline ensures that both dentists and parents have evidence-based recommendations to determine the most appropriate treatment for dental pain,” Moore said.