Burne Steps Down as Oral Biology Chair

A pic of Robert BurneAfter 18 years leading the UF Department of Oral Biology as chair, Robert Burne, Ph.D., is stepping down effective January 1, 2020, and will continue serving the college as the associate dean for research.

Burne earned his bachelor’s degree in 1981 from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., and his doctorate in 1987 from the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. He served on the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry from 1990 to 2001, when he joined the University of Florida on August 31 as a professor and chair of the department of oral biology. In 2010, he took on the additional role of serving as associate dean for research.

“Dr. Burne has been unflagging in his strong leadership of the oral biology program in particular, and of the overall research enterprise for the college. He ushered the department through some “lean years” in terms of federal funding for research, consistently building the program to where it is today,” said A. Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H., dean.

A few highlights of Burne’s tenure as department chair include:

  • For more than 15 years, UFCD has ranked in the top ten for National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) funding to all U.S. Schools of Dentistry.
  • The Oral Biology Research and Training programs and the overall research program are both top 10 programs based on NIH and NIDCR ranking.
  • During the last fiscal year, oral biology faculty secured $7,555,131 in extramural funding (mainly NIH), which represents over 45 percent of the total funding generated by the College of Dentistry during the same period.

In addition, Dr. Burne has recruited and retained top-level faculty to add to the respected researchers already in our college, creating a program that is known for its breadth and depth of oral health research and commitment to scientific advancements.

“We are truly fortunate as a college, a university and a profession to have Dr. Burne on our team and I am grateful that he will continue to play a vital role in our research program in the future,” Garcia said.

Photo of Mary Ellen DaveyMary Ellen Davey, Ph.D., has been appointed interim chair while the college searches for a permanent replacement. Davey joined the college in January 2013 as an associate professor in oral biology. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in 1982 and her doctorate in microbiology from Michigan State University in 1999.  She served on the faculty of the Forsyth Institute and Harvard School of Dental Medicine from 2003-2013. Her research interests are in biofilm-based infections and host:pathogen interaction.

“I am very appreciative that Dr. Davey was willing to accept the challenge of leading the oral biology department during this time of transition and know that everyone will work to help her navigate as an interim chair,” Garcia said.