Many wonderful people grace the discipline of Operative Dentistry. Occasionally, our group is honored with a great gentleman, committed to each of us, and dedicated to superb patient care. Dr Summitt is currently professor and chair, Department of Restorative Dentistry, University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC), San Antonio, Texas. He has been continually actively involved in research in the area of current restorative dentistry techniques and materials for almost 35 years. He has contributed to more than 160 papers, book chapters and abstracts concerning the full range of subjects related to restorative dentistry. He is primary editor and coauthor of the much-praised textbook, Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry: A Contemporary Approach, which is used in numerous national and international dental curricula. Dr Summitt has traveled widely to present dozens of continuing education courses in the US and abroad.
He is a member of the editorial boards for Operative Dentistry, the American Journal of Dentistry and the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice. He also serves as manuscript reviewer for the Journal of the American Dental Association, the Journal of Dentistry, Quintessence International and the Journal of Dental Research.
Dr Summitt is past-president of the American Board of General Dentistry and is a diplomate of that Board and of the Federal Services Board of General Dentistry. He is a fellow of the American and International Colleges of Dentists and a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry. He also has memberships in many professional, educational and research organizations in dentistry.
After receiving his DDS from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in 1971, Dr Summitt joined the US Air Force Dental Corps. He completed a two-year residency in general dentistry in 1977 at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center and received his MS degree in general dentistry from the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston. He taught in Air Force general dentistry residencies for five years and, in 1984, became chairman of the Department of General Dentistry and program director of the two-year General Dentistry Residency at Wilford Hall. In 1988, he became director of Dental Services at Wilford Hall. After retiring from his first career in the Air Force in 1989, Jim started another academic career, becoming, in three decades, one of the most influential academic leaders of this time.
Celebrating Dr Jim Summitt is a simple task. His scholarly contributions to the clinical and research literature speak volumes by themselves.
Jim Summitt embodies the concept of evidence-based dentistry and was one of the earliest proponents for the approach long before it became a catch phrase. The hallmark of Jim's research is uncovering evidence-based answers to important clinical questions of primary interest to the practicing dentist. Contentious or controversial topics were ripe for Jim's investigative attention. His hallmark was always seeking scientific support for his teaching, and that has a profoundly positive effect on his colleagues and students. The expression, “In my hands,” gives way to “the literature shows…” Encouraging critical thinking and bringing the pursuit for evidence into daily practice, Jim is a role model for being truly professional in the ever-so-fast-changing world of clinical practice. Everyone who works with Jim develops a much greater respect for research, a contribution that reaches far beyond just publications. People who see Jim as a restorative dentist underestimate his passionate devotion for clinical discovery. Slow to be swayed simply by new things, Jim challenged new techniques and materials, using research principles to test their veracity. It was in this way that Jim became an early champion for minimal intervention operative procedures.
But to merely discuss Jim's scientific work is to miss the complete essence of the individual. Jim is also one of the finest clinical operative dentists. He holds an impressive list of prestigious honors and awards. Jim is the second Hollenback Award recipient who also received the Award of Excellence (2005) for his exemplary clinical achievements. Jim has always set a very high standard for himself and for his faculty members, as well as his residents and students. Despite his work ethic and clinical prowess, another quality sets Jim far above others. It is his unswerving integrity. This has had an impact on all of those with whom he has worked. He consistently demonstrates that there is no compromise when it comes to integrity.
Jim is truly a person of the profession, dedicated to the core values and principles that make dentistry so great. A gentleman in the truest sense of the word, he is an exceptional academic role model and an inspiring mentor to individuals, to the Academy and to our profession.
Dr Jim Summitt is an extraordinary colleague and one of the Academy's longest standing members. The Academy is honored to present the 2009 Hollenback Memorial Prize award to Dr Jim Summitt.