(DALLAS) — Dr. Sarah Samuel, assistant professor in diagnostic sciences at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, has been selected as the American Dental Association’s 2006-2007 Congressional fellow.

Dr. Samuel was selected during the Washington Leadership Conference, April 3-5, 2006, in Washington, D.C.

“I am very happy and excited about being selected as the ADA Congressional fellow,” Dr. Samuel said. “But more than that, I feel truly honored to represent the American Dental Association and dentistry on Capitol Hill.”

According to the selection committee, Dr. Samuel was chosen because of her private practice, public health, academic and residency experience, as well as her “boundless enthusiasm and interest in working on Capitol Hill for the good of the dental profession and the need to promote oral health.”

The yearlong fellowship, which begins Sept. 1 and provides a $75,000 stipend, is administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in cooperation with the American Dental Association as a sponsoring society.

ADA Congressional fellows bring a wealth of professional experience to the legislative process, heightening awareness of lawmakers to oral health issues while assisting with congressional hearings, preparing issue briefs, writing speeches or engaging in other legislative activities.

“Dentistry is a dynamic, noble and well-respected health profession that combines compassion with academics, critical thinking and technical skills,” Dr. Samuel said. “However, there are many issues facing the dental profession such as access to dental care in rural and poor urban communities, the funding of dental residency training programs, and the burden of loan repayment for new dentists, as well as promoting oral health and educating the public on oral disease prevention.”

Former ADA fellows have served on staffs of members of Congress and Congressional committees and worked on policy issues such as pay legislation for military dental officers, Medicaid, aging, privacy and tobacco. Some have returned to practice or moved into health policy positions in government after completing fellowships.

Dr. Samuel plans to use the experience she gains about public policy-making to become more involved in oral healthcare issues at the local, state and national levels.

“Organized dentistry is so important for the good of the dental profession and our patients, so I hope to use my experience to contribute to organized dentistry,” Dr. Samuel said. “I plan to become more involved in the Dallas County Dental Society as well as the Texas Dental Association and the ADA.”

Founded in 1905, Baylor College of Dentistry at Dallas is a component of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. HSC-BCD is a nationally recognized center for oral health sciences education, research, specialized patient care and continuing dental education.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

— LaDawn Brock