USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Smiles in the Spotlight

By Anjetta McQueen


Smiles in the Spotlight” celebrates a different member of the USC School of Dentistry community each month. If you’d like to nominate a student, faculty member or staff member to be featured as a Smile in the Spotlight, contact Beth Dunham at or (213) 740-4279.

The soundest research requires a solid team, and if you’ve kept abreast of the latest at the USC School of Dentistry, chances are you’ve seen the contributions of Hazem Seirawan’s data analysis on several research projects.

Seirawan, research assistant professor, has taken part in School of Dentistry studies that have assessed the dental needs low-income minority children, evaluated a community oral health project serving the homeless, and investigated the oral health impacts of HIV/AIDS.

Most recently, he assisted Jennifer Holtzman, clinical assistant professor, in a study of School of Dentistry freshmen attitudes toward providing care for underserved patients.  The study, to be published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Dental Education, showed that although first-year students are positive about community service, they became less certain at the end of their first year about how that care should be delivered.  Seirawan said more research is planned to measure the students’ attitudes during the entire four-year curriculum.

“This study will help us understand the role of the USCSD diverse community programs and experiences on the students’ attitudes toward delivery of care to the underserved,” said Seirawan, who like Holtzman is part of the School’s Division of Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, and Epidemiology.

Currently, he is the co-principal investigator on the Children’s Dental Health Project in Los Angeles County, which aims to measure the oral health among underserved children in the County and their social determinants of oral health.

“It is disturbing to realize the poor oral health conditions of many children in the County, and to understand the interactions between the children’s social determinants and oral health; it just adds further to the complexity of any proposed solution,” he said.

Seirawan, an experienced researcher, sees the real-life impact as well: “Well designed community services programs should improve the quality of life in the target community, and help providers perceive the multidimensional complexity of the addressed problem in the community, a perception that is likely to be obtained only through engagement with the community.”