Champion of equity in healthcare awarded prestigious dental award

14/03/2024 | 3 mins

A researcher from The University of Western Australia has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to oral health and dental care in older people with a prestigious international science award.

Professor Linda Slack-Smith yesterday received the International Association of Dental Research 2024 Distinguished Scientist Award in Geriatric Oral Health at a ceremony in New Orleans.

Professor Linda Slack-SmithImage: Professor Linda Slack-Smith.

Professor Slack-Smith, whose research includes population epidemiology, qualitative studies and healthcare policy, said she was elated to have been recognised and have her work acknowledged.

“Oral health of older adults is a challenging area where many older adults do not receive appropriate help with personal oral or dental care,” she said.

“In Australia we don’t have a specialty in geriatric dentistry, there is limited relevant training in packed dental courses and limited support or structure for services, with an urgent need for government support.”

Professor Slack-Smith is Head of the Equity and Oral Health Group in UWA’s School of Population and Global Health.

She has had input on state and federal policy, and appeared at the Senate inquiry into dental services where her work was also cited.

Throughout her career, Professor Slack-Smith has been a champion for oral healthcare in children and older adults with a focus on addressing inequities in the health system.

“Oral health has been a really good lens to look at inequity because there's so many groups that miss out on good oral health,” she said.

“It's become a type of modern-day indicator of how population groups are going by taking into consideration their dental health outcomes.”

Professor Anna Nowak, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) congratulated Professor Slack-Smith on the award which recognised the outstanding research she had undertaken over the past two decades.

“Linda has been dedicated to improving healthcare for so many under-represented groups throughout her distinguished career,” Professor Nowak said.

“It is fantastic to see the positive outcomes she has achieved now recognised by a peak international organisation.” 

Professor Slack-Smith, and a team of researchers led by UWA’s Associate Professor Angela Durey and Ms Nola Naylor, also received The International Association of Dental Research 2024 Giddon Award for Distinguished Research in the Behavioural Sciences for research undertaken on oral health in Aboriginal Australia.

The International Association for Dental Research is the peak international organisation for dental research internationally and the organisation’s Distinguished Scientist Award is among the awards included in university ranking systems.

Media references

Annelies Gartner (UWA PR & Media Adviser) 08 6488 6876         

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