UIC assistant professor receives inaugural ADA award for new investigator in dental informatics

Dr. Emiliya Taneva of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry received the first Robert H. Ahlstrom New Investigator Award for Dental Informatics Research.

Dr. Taneva

Dr. Taneva

The award, named after the first chairman of the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics, aims to highlight the crucial role that dental informatics standards play in improving the quality of patient care, assuring patient health and safety and increasing efficiency through use of information technology.

Dr. Taneva, a new dentist and clinical assistant professor at the Department of Orthodontics, received the honor for her paper, “3-D Evaluation of Palatal Rugae for Human Identification Using Digital Study Models.”

Her research documented the palatal rugae as identifiers in a 3-D manner comparable to the use of fingerprints.

“My master’s thesis project involved developing and utilizing a 3-D approach for human verification and identification using the palatal rugae pattern,” she said.

Dr. Taneva said she sees 3-D digital study models obtained with intraoral or model scanners for diagnosis and treatment planning being “integrated in the personal electronic health record, which can be requested and accessed by forensic institutes and law enforcement.”

The implementation of the algorithms, she added, could bring a major impact to the biometrics and forensic odontology fields and create new standards for interoperability and transmissibility, and for acquiring and transferring patient data in open source formats.

Dr. Taneva credits her mentors — Dr. Carla Evans, who heads the Department of Orthodontics; Dr. Andrew Johnson, associate professor of Computer Science; and Grace Vianna, statistician, Depatment of Orthodontics — for the award.

As the recipient of the Ahstrom award, Dr. Taneva will receive airfare and accommodations to present the award-winning project at the ADA SCDI’s annual meeting Nov. 2-4 in Washington, D.C.

Applicants for the award must have received their D.D.S. or D.M.D. degrees no more than five years prior to the time of selection. The awards committee and the ADA Council on Dental Practice will select the winner. For more about the ADA Standards Programs, visit ADA.org/dentalstandards.

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