Dr. Julio Carrion Finds Support From Mentors Key to Success in Academic Dentistry

Julio Carrion, D.M.D., Ph.D.“I had no early guidance related to academic preparation and the lifelong rewards offered as a dental professional,” says Julio Carrion, D.M.D., Ph.D. Today, he spends time recruiting students to dental careers, and is passionate about “getting to them early in their lives.”

Dr. Carrion attended public schools in Puerto Rico and graduated from college with an interest in the culinary arts. But a professor suggested he consider a career in dentistry and, with his grandfather’s encouragement, he went on to obtain his dental degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine in 2004.

Summer research experiences as a dental student encouraged a strong interest in dental research, and Dr. Carrion decided to move to the mainland United States to complete his education. He pursued a General Practice Residency at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine (Stony Brook SDM) and became Chief Resident after his first year, which gave him the opportunity to teach first-year residents and dental students and stimulated a genuine passion for teaching and academics. He completed K23 and K30 clinical research programs at the clinical research center, and in 2012 completed a combined Ph.D. program in Oral Biology and Pathology, as well as a postgraduate certificate program in Periodontics, at Stony Brook SDM.

Stony Brook SDM began participating in the ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Minority Dental Faculty Development (ADEA MDFD) in 2004. Ray C. Williams, D.M.D., Dean at that time, credited the ADEA MDFD program with “shaping the culture, policies and practices” of the university, and in particular with changing “our view of the importance of mentorship and diversity in growing our next generation of academicians.”

Christopher Cutler, D.D.S., Ph.D., mentor to Dr. Carrion while Dr. Cutler was obtaining his Ph.D., explained that, through participation in the MDFD program at Stony Brook SDM, he learned that “the mentoring relationship fosters in the mentee important problem-solving skills that have been achieved by the mentor through years of experience, which are essential to effectively navigate an academic career.” Dr. Cutler emphasizes, “As a mentor, I learned the value of listening to students, as opposed to imposing my will upon them. No matter your academic rank, administrative title, or leadership position, you must listen effectively in order to inspire others toward a common goal.”

Vincent J. Iacono, D.M.D., mentored Dr. Carrion during his clinical work. Dr. Carrion praises both Dr. Iacono and Dr. Cutler for their exemplary dedication to their work and for their constant availability to support and guide him, and says that he now follows in their footsteps by mentoring dental students and residents. The ADEA MDFD program allowed Dr. Carrion to focus on his career development by providing for his living expenses and family support as he completed his advanced training. He feels that he “would have quit many times” without the support he received from the program.

Currently, Dr. Carrion is a Board Certified Periodontist, a full-time Research Assistant Professor in Periodontology and the Director of Periodontal Research at Stony Brook SDM. He is an associate in the university’s faculty practice clinic, teaches undergraduate dental students and residents, serves as a mentor to dental students and residents for research activities and presentations, and is responsible for his own research laboratory. Dr. Carrion’s research in tissue engineering and regeneration of hard and soft tissue is considered cutting edge, as newer technology contributes to the understanding of the pathogenesis of periodontal disease and diagnostics for the future.

This article was first published in the February 2016 edition of the ADEA
  Bulletin of Dental Education