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International collaboration with Tufts University on curing lights

Posted by Cheryl Bell on October 20, 2015 in Research, News
Drs. Sapan Bhatt and Richard Price collaborate on curing light research

An interest in curing light technology, the chance to work with Dr. Richard Price, and a curiosity to see Halifax, drew Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) student Sapan Bhatt from Boston to Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry in the summer of 2011. What made this all possible was a TUSDM Travel Research Fellowship and a close collaboration between Price and TUDSM.

As part of an ongoing relationship with TUSDM, the Faculty of Dentistry has been a Tufts research partner since 2011.  Bhatt, a first-year dental student, was the first student to visit Dalhousie. He spent 15 days in July 2011 working with Price and was highly productive time in terms of scholarly output.  

“The highlights are that in March 2015 our research was on the cover of the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry with an article on the curing light research we did,” says Bhatt. “We were also able to present two abstracts at the most recent American Academy of Dental Research meeting, both this year and in the first year after I did the project. Subsequently, we did a follow-up study in my junior year when Dr. Price came to Tufts to do a hands-on research project. In total, I think we had five abstracts and a full peer-reviewed paper.”

“Sapan was an excellent student,” says Price. “I was impressed with him from the start. He was enthusiastic about dental research and he participated in projects that ended up as two abstracts in 2012 and he has also published abstracts on other topics since then.”

Bhatt’s experience in Halifax whetted his appetite for further international collaboration. He successfully obtained travel research fellowships to conduct research at 3M ESPE headquarters in Seefeld, Germany after his second year, and at Southern Dental Industries in Melbourne, Australia after his third year.

The mentorship experience was overwhelmingly positive. “I would definitely recommend it,” says Bhatt. “One of the most important things I gained from doing this type of research at partner institutions is a different perspective from what I was accustomed to at Tufts. Dr. Price is a leader in curing light research, while at Tufts we do a lot of work on bond strength. It’s great to broaden your horizons and explore topics that your institution may not be covering.”

For Price, the experience was also enriching. “I think Sapan is an outstanding individual who, when given the opportunity to engage in some research, not only did some, but he published it and presented it at the International Association for Dental Research. He also mentored some of his fellow students and I think that’s also very important.”

Mentorship is a high priority for Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry, which is in the midst of launching its fourth annual Dentistry Mentorship Program between students and alumni, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Dental Association.

Mentorship has also been the watchword for the ongoing collaboration with Tufts and, through the relationship between the two universities, Price has been able to mentor other dental students, including Judyth Lee, Hemanth Kunduru, and Sarah Samaha, who have all spent time at the Faculty of Dentistry researching different aspects of light curing. Price is looking forward to future mentorship opportunities.

Sapan Bhatt has now graduated and is a successful dentist practising in the USA.  He has already completed a General Practice Residency Program and he is interested in teaching and possibly further post-graduate studies. “None of what I have done would have been possible without mentors to support me along the way,” says Bhatt. “It’s really a collaborative effort and you can see that with great teamwork, you can accomplish a lot of things.”

Editor's Note: Some of the interview content for this article was provided by Dr. John O'Keefe of CDA Oasis Discussions. The full interview is available online at