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Reflections from Kemporn Kitsahawong

Pom Kitsahawong photoHi, my name is Kemporn “Pom” Kitsahawong, I am a full-time pediatric dentist and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry, Khon Kaen University. I was one of the long-term (PhD) trainees in the Fogarty International Center Training Program in Clinical, Public Health and Behavioral Oral Health Research for Thailand under the collaboration between KKU and the University of Washington (UW). Through the generous support from NIH, I received the opportunity to attend the 2010 UW Summer Institute and subsequently enrolled in several epidemiology and biostatistics courses offered at the UW School of Dentistry during my first year in PhD in Oral Science program at KKU.

I am deeply indebted to Professor Timothy A. DeRouen, Dean Waranuch Pitiphat, Dr. Ana Lucia Seminario and Dr. Christy McKinney who had tirelessly advised me to expand my perspectives and to seek opportunities to do research during my time at Seattle. These experiences increased my knowledge in research, especially in the clinical trials. In addition, my experiences in working with professionals at the IRB for human research ethics had tremendously improved the understanding of this issue among the participants and conducting good clinical research later on.

Kemporn giving dental exam to a childOver the past 10 years after my training with the UW team, I have been assisting Dean Pitiphat in expanding the knowledge and expertise in clinical oral health research to LMIC’s in Asia. The International Workshops on “Clinical Research Methods in Oral Health” jointly organized by University of Washington, Thammasat University and Khon Kaen University was conducted every 2 years. In the recent workshops, I served as a mentor facilitating the trainees from the leading institutes in Southeast Asia countries on developing a research proposal. This was a great opportunity to be able to share the experience with several international participants and to build partnerships that have mutual benefits in this region. Regarding research support, I have received consecutive grants from KKU Research Unit, KKU Faculty of Dentistry and the Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO). These allow my team to carry on our research and recruit additional junior clinicians into the team.

Currently, I have been supervising research projects, both clinical and laboratory bases. I am mentoring master and PhD students to develop the skills required for conducting research in oral health. I have been working in collaboration with the KKU Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to develop innovative treatment for pediatric patients.  As part of the KKU medical hub, I have expanded my expertise in taking care of young patients who had medically compromised conditions and also those with special needs. Our dental school plays a major role in the KKU Cleft Center, which delivers multidisciplinary treatment for individuals with oro-facial clefts and craniofacial anomalies. This center has built upon the efforts of many medical and dental specialists, including pediatric dentists who provide oral health care and interceptive orthodontic treatment as part of the holistic protocol. These has given me the experiences in participating in such a competent network.

I believe that my expertise gained during these valuable years have armed me with the necessity competency to participate and lead the projects, particularly on the aspect of clinical research and oral health in children.

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