Achievements & Awards Faculty Patient Care Periodontics & Oral Medicine Researchers

Faculty member Purnima Kumar receives Distinguished Scientist award from IADR at international conference4 min read

June 23, 2023

Faculty member Purnima Kumar receives Distinguished Scientist award from IADR at international conference4 min read

Ann Arbor, Mich., June 23, 2023 – University of Michigan School of Dentistry faculty member and department chair Dr. Purnima Kumar has received one of the highest honors bestowed by the International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (IADR).

Dr. Purnima Kumar

Dr. Kumar received the IADR Distinguished Scientist Research in Periodontal Disease Award. It was presented Wednesday during the opening ceremonies of the 101st General Session of the IADR in Bogotá, Colombia. One of the 17 IADR Distinguished Scientist Awards, it recognizes, encourages and stimulates outstanding achievements in research and its translation through clinical research in periodontal disease.

Kumar is the William and Mary K. Najjar Professor of Periodontology and chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the dental school. She is a dual-trained periodontist and microbial ecologist whose research investigates the myriad ways in which the human microbiome can be harnessed to promote health.

“One of the greatest honors a scientist can achieve is recognition from their peers,” Kumar said of receiving the IADR award. “I am humbled to have been selected for this award by the world’s premier research association from so many renowned scientists and researchers. I am immensely grateful to all those students, collaborators and mentors who have shared my passion for discovery and urge to push back frontiers.”

Kumar has authored or contributed to numerous scientific papers investigating the oral microbiome and she serves as associate editor of several journals related to periodontology and microbiology. Several national institutes have provided funding for her work. Her research into how smoking and vaping affect oral health has drawn national attention. In 2019, the American Dental Association (ADA) appointed her as a spokesperson for media inquiries related to the growing use of vaping and its impact on oral health. She is regularly quoted in national publications and online news reports about vaping and various aspects of periodontology.

Earlier this year, Kumar was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her distinguished contributions to the field of periodontology, particularly her studies of periodontal disease pathogenesis among people who smoke, including pregnant women, and for her research into inflammation around dental implants.

Kumar is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and a Fellow of The Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program. She is an active clinician, teacher, researcher, administrator and mentor. She has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters and serves as associate editor of the Journal of Periodontology, Periodontology 2000, Nature Scientific Reports, and Microbiome.

Kumar obtained her bachelor’s degree from Annamalai University, Chidambaram, India, and her PhD in molecular microbiology from Ohio State University in 2005, where she also completed Advanced Training Program in Periodontics.

The annual IADR conference in Bogota was held in conjunction with the 9th Meeting of the Latin American Region and the 12th World Congress on Preventive Dentistry. The IADR is a nonprofit organization with a mission to drive dental, oral, and craniofacial research for health and well-being worldwide. IADR represents the individual scientists, clinician-scientists, dental professionals, and students based in academic, government, non-profit and private-sector institutions.

More information on IADR and the 2023 awards are on its website here.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at, or (734) 615-1971.