Interview series: Leonardo’s ITI Scholarship experience

Leonardo Diaz Agurto
Interview series: Leonardo Diaz Agurto

Every year in June, the ITI opens the application portal for its Scholarships. We took this opportunity to ask one of our current Scholars, Leonardo Diaz Agurto from Chile, about his experience, his daily work and what he likes the most about it. He started his Scholarship year in September 2021 at the ITI Scholarship Center in Mainz, Germany.

What are the three most memorable things you will take away from your Scholarship year?

Firstly, of course, it is the experience of living in a country far away from my own and all that means, with a new culture as well as with different times and quality of life.

Secondly, the possibility of being part of a consolidated clinical-research staff, actively participating in the planning and development of highly complex clinical cases and also in many research projects.

And lastly, because of the different advanced training courses at the University of Mainz, as well as through ITI meetings and congresses, I have been able to meet many people, creating networks, both for research projects and educational activities, as well as great friendships for life.

Could you give us an idea of how your working week is structured?

Now that I have been here for a couple of months, I have a weekly schedule, where every day begins with a clinical meeting of the oral and maxillofacial surgery staff, at which the surgical cases of the day and the progress of the patients operated on the previous days are briefly discussed. After that, the surgeries begin. In general, many are carried out simultaneously every day and on different wards, and I am able to attend any of them depending on whether it is in my area of interest or if I want to participate actively in the surgical team. Finally, after concluding the surgeries of the day, depending on the planning, I go to the 3D laboratory to work on the research projects.

Why did you choose this specific Scholarship Center?

The University of Mainz was my first choice because after finishing my postgraduate degree in implantology in Chile my focus was on improving my skills and knowledge in bone augmentation and soft tissue management of large defects, and in fact that is what I see every day. I truly believe that I did not make a mistake in my decision when I evaluated all the possible ITI Scholarship Centers in the beginning before applying.

Do you get enough support to do your job well?  

Totally, I can usually participate in the planning and treatment of surgical cases. They have also continuously supported me in my research ideas throughout these months. Finally, I would also like to emphasize that the staff has always encouraged me to continue learning, so I have been free to take different courses in Europe on the topics that interest me.

Do you feel you are learning a lot?

Yes, because of the large number of patients seen daily, many of them highly complex, each one different from the other, using different approaches. I should also mention the available equipment and that since many members of the staff are opinion leaders in different areas of implantology, the hospital has the best regenerative materials, as well as the best technology for the planning and execution of the patients’ treatments.

What are your plans for the time after your Scholarship when you return home?

I have several ideas in mind for my return to Chile. First of all, I will return to the university, which I am really passionate about, where I can teach everything I have learned this year. I will be able to treat my patients better with better knowledge and skills in complex cases. I will also continue helping to grow the Chilean Section of ITI, participating as a Fellow, Study Club Director and with a great project in mind for the Young ITI in Chile.

Why would you recommend our Scholarship program to other young professionals?

I truly believe that in our career, no matter what qualifications we have, we must constantly update our knowledge. So, depending on what you are looking for, whether it is clinical, research or both, there are one or more ITI Scholarship Centers in the world that offer a wonderful option. It is a great opportunity to grow educationally, professionally, and as a person.

Each year we enable young implant dentistry talent to spend a year abroad at a highly regarded university being mentored by an ITI Fellow at one of our 34 ITI Scholarship Centers around the globe. Are you keen on getting insight into every aspect of implant treatment? Would you like to dive into the complex world of case planning, implant surgery and prosthetic restorations in an international context? Our application portal is open from June 1 to June 30. Don’t hesitate any longer and apply now!

More information available on our website.


Leonardo Diaz Agurto
Dr. Leonardo Díaz Agurto received his DDS degree in 2013, a diploma in Implant Dentistry in 2015 and his specialist degree in oral and maxillofacial implantology after a three year program in 2019 at the University of Chile. He works in a private practice in Santiago of Chile, focusing mainly on oral implantology, bone augmentation procedures and soft tissue management. He is also a clinical professor of the specialty of oral and maxillofacial implantology at the graduate school of the University of Chile, ITI Fellow, director of the ITI Study Club Las Condes and currently moved to Mainz, Germany participating as an ITI Scholar at the Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center.
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