Dr. Brian J. Swann, assistant professor of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, was recently awarded a 2018 Dean's Community Service Award for his work with the Wampanoag Tribe Oral Health Relief Effort. Since 2013, Swann has led efforts to bring sustainable, comprehensive, family-centered oral health care to the underserved native population on Martha's Vineyard. He has built lasting relationships within the Tribe, as well as mentored numerous students who have traveled with him to Martha’s Vineyard to work with the population and learn first-hand the importance of public health dentistry, and culturally-sensitive care.
“Without Dr. Swann’s vision, efforts, and extreme dedication to this endeavor, the [program] would not exist and would not have a dentist willing to travel and provide monthly care,” said a nominator. “His leadership has helped many dental patients and students.”
Swann sees the effort as part of a longstanding relationship and commitment between Harvard and the Wampanoag community.
“In its origin, John Harvard declared that this first college was founded to educate the immigrants from Europe and the indigenous, who were the Wampanoag,” Swann said.
Throughout these efforts, Swann stresses the importance of posing the question, ‘what can we learn from each other?' Students and faculty participate in pow-wows and tribal meetings to learn about the community and culture and understand traditional beliefs about health and wellness.
“Brian’s commitment to providing community-centered care is remarkable,” said Dean Bruce Donoff. “I’m thrilled to recognize his work with this award.”
Community service is an integral part of the mission of Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Harvard Medical School. The Dean’s Community Service Award was established in 1999 to recognize individuals whose dedication and commitment to community service have made a positive impact on the local, national, or international community.