Every year in June, the ITI opens the application portal for its Scholarships. We took this opportunity to ask one of our current Scholars, Wenwen Liu from China, about her experience, her daily work and what she likes the most about it. She started his Scholarship year in September 2021 at the ITI Scholarship Center in Michigan, USA.
I arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan during the most beautiful autumn in 2021. My first memorable thing at the beginning of the Scholarship year were the colorful trees around the whole campus. I loved the scenery around the nearby Huron river. I still remember the first time I met the chair of the ITI Scholarship Center at the University of Michigan, who is also the director of Graduate Periodontics: Dr. Hom-Lay Wang. He and the residents gave me a warm welcome during the classic literature class. I had my first class with periodontic residents and felt impressed by the content and style of the class. From then on, I started to learn with Dr. Wang both in classes and clinics. He is such a knowledgeable professor, not only in the academic and clinical area but also in the philosophy of life. He always comforts patients and makes every complicated case easy. His patients joked with us that Dr. Wang could be a “walking Wikipedia”. I learned skills, concepts and the principles of different treatments. Dr. Wang is always patient in explaining every detail to us in clinic and classes. I work with him in the clinic and also have his support for my own clinic treatment. This learning process gave me the opportunity to make progress.
In the periodontal department, all the residents work hard and diligently. I feel so lucky to have chosen UMichigan ITI Scholarship Center so I could work and learn with them every day. They encouraged and inspired me in the clinic and for my research. In classes, students can discuss and investigate each skill or principle of the class topic. This process pushed me to learn more and understand scientific rationale even more in-depth. Moreover, in this top dental school, we have a lot of opportunities to listen to lectures given by many famous professors/clinicians around the world and to talk with them.
As a Scholar, I’m interested in the research about biomaterials for tissue engineering. I started biomaterials research when I was an undergraduate student. This is an important reason why I chose this Center, the University of Michigan, School of Dentistry, which is one of the most famous academic dental schools. Here I have enough support and resources for different kinds of research. For biomaterial research, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Prof. Nicholas Kotov at the Biointerfaces Institute of the University of Michigan. I am trying to combine my magnetoelectric biomaterial with Prof. Kotov’s chiral materials in promoting bone regeneration. Recently, I’m also trying to work with Dr. Kaigler and Dr. Sugai in the use of bone stem cells. In clinical research, I work with Dr. Hom-Lay Wang studying implant surgery and digital work. Both the basic and clinical research have had some great results and have been submitted for publishing.
One of the best parts of the program is that I am able to treat patients and do surgery by myself and get instruction from supervisors. I have performed implant surgery and related treatment such as alveolar socket preservation, guided bone augmentation, bone ridge reconstructions, sinus lifting, and digital guide implant surgery. Dr. Wang and the faculty in the periodontal department helped me step-by-step in improving my clinical skill and related clinical knowledge during the procedure. I learned the whole process from patients’ consultation through surgery, to prescription, and post-surgery operation. I found this learning process is the best way for a clinician to make progress.
As a dentist and a researcher, communication with peers is also important. I was able to go to the 2021 American Academy of Periodontology annual meeting in Miami and Midwest Society of Periodontology conference in Chicago. It was a great experience to learn from the best clinicians and researchers around the world. As a prosthodontist, learning from periodontists and understanding knowledge from other points of view extended my thinking boundaries. This is one reason for me to recommend other young professionals to join this program.
All of these experiences changed my thinking and knowledge system. I learned how to review the literature critically, how to design research and treatment plans, and how to communicate with patients and peers. When I return to my country in September 2022, I will say this is the most valuable program and the best year for learning and practice I have ever had. It gave me the opportunity to learn from one of the best teams and be taught by some of the most famous and knowledgeable professors in the world. As an associate professor at my university, I will teach my own students in the same way I’ve been trained in this center and share the knowledge with our Peking University stomatology hospital, which is also an ITI center. The experience has helped me to improve my clinical work and research philosophy, which is important to my academic and clinical career. I got a lot of support from the big family in Michigan and made friendships here. We shared ideas, knowledge as well as a personal life philosophy. Professors and teachers helped me on the way to seeking out uncharted areas of both dentistry and science. I would like to thank ITI Leadership Committee for this excellent program that gave me this opportunity. Thank you to Dr. Wang and the professors in the periodontal department for their mentorship, and for Prof. Kotov and his lab’s help. Their professionalism inspires and encourages me to keep on exploring.
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!