Cariology researcher receives Callahan Memorial Award

Dr. Domenick Zero

Dr. Domenick Zero is the 2022 recipient of the Ohio Dental Association Callahan Memorial Award.

Dr. Domenick Zero has lectured and done clinical research on almost every aspect of cariology. In recognition of his efforts, he will receive the 2022 Ohio Dental Association Callahan Memorial Award on Friday, Sept. 16 at the Callahan Celebration of Excellence, held in conjunction with the 156th ODA Annual Session.

“Dr. Zero’s caries research spans all aspects, from prevention to diagnosis to early intervention and everything in between,” said Dr. Joseph Mellion, chair of the Callahan Commission. “His research has been instrumental in helping dentists treat and prevent oral disease in their patients.”

Zero graduated at the top of his class from Georgetown University School of Dentistry in 1975. He then completed a general dentistry residency and a three-year research fellowship at the Eastman Dental Center at the University of Rochester, where he earned a master’s degree in 1979.

He then went on to teach and do research at the Eastman Dental Center, where he served in many roles including as associate director for research and program director of oral sciences.

Zero is currently a professor in the Department of Cariology, Operative Dentistry and Dental Public Health at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. He also served as Director of the Oral Health Research Institute at Indiana University for 22 years and recently stepped down from the position. He has chaired the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry and served as the associate dean for research at the Indiana University School of Dentistry.

Zero’s research has been extensive in the area of cariology.

“I always really put the patient first,” he said. “I wanted to do research relevant to improving oral health. That really became the focus of my career.”

His research areas have included how caries develop, caries diagnosis, prevention and early intervention, early diagnosis and caries diagnostic tools, caries risk assessment, fluoride, non-fluoride remineralizing agents, dental erosion and salivary diagnostics. More recently, he has also been doing research on a cure for Sjögren’s Syndrome and studies on how to help people with TMD.

Zero has lectured extensively throughout the U.S. and internationally, has published more than 160 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and book chapters and over 220 abstracts.

He has served as president of the Cariology Research Group of the International Association for Dental Research and was an elected member of the European Organization for Caries Research (ORCA) Advisory Board. He has also served as chair and vice-chair of the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs, as a member of the Dental Products Panel of the Food and Drug Administration’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee, and as a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Expert Panel on School-based Dental Sealant Programs. He currently serves as chair of Clinical Practice Guidelines Oral Working Group, Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation, and a member of the ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry’s Expert Panel for the ADA Clinical Practice Guideline on Caries Management. He is a founding board member of the International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS) Foundation and the American Academy of Cariology, and member of Enamel Tooth Wear Foundation Scientific Advisory Team.

Zero is a member of the International Association for Dental Research, the American Academy of Cariology, the American Association for Dental Research, the European Organization for Caries Research, the American Dental Association, the American Dental Education Association and the Society for Clinical and Translational Science.

Zero has achieved life membership in the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Fraternity and the American College of Dentists and is a member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

This year, Zero has received four prestigious awards: the ADA Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, Indiana University School of Dentistry Distinguished Faculty Award for Research, and The Yngve Ericsson Prize for outstanding contributions to prevention of oral diseases and the Callahan Memorial Award.

The Callahan Memorial Award Commission was established in 1920 by the ODA to honor the work of John Ross Callahan, one of Ohio’s noted dental researchers and a leader in organized dentistry. Since its establishment, the award has continued to grow in prominence in the dental profession. Past Callahan Memorial Awardees include such luminaries as George Paffenbarger, Wendell Postle, Lindsey Pankey, P.I. Branemark, Arthur Dugoni, Gordon Christensen, and Linda Niessen.