Welcoming Four CDBS Faculty

Photo of Tumader KhoujaTumader Khouja, B.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., joined the college on August 1 as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science.

Khouja is a dentist and health services researcher. Her research focuses on areas of high importance in dental public health including opioid prescribing among dentists, access to oral health services, oral health systemic health connection and economic evaluation of dental treatments and preventive modalities.

Khouja’s primary focus will be on her research. She has been awarded a K99/R00 dual dentist scientist pathway to independence award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or NIDCR. In her K99/R00 project she uses quantitative and qualitative methods to understand barriers and facilitators to non-traumatic dental condition management in the emergency department, or ED. She aims to create an ED provider centered intervention to improve prescribing for NTDC. In addition to her research endeavors at the college, she will be engaged in education focused on dental public health, community outreach and clinical service delivery. 

Khouja earned her bachelor’s of dental medicine and surgery in 2007 from King Abdul Aziz University, or KAU, in Saudi Arabia. After graduating, she worked as a general dentist and joined the KAU dental faculty. In 2012 she pursued a master’s degree in public health and a certificate in health system leadership and management at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After completing her masters in 2013, she continued her studies at the University of Pittsburgh, completing her doctorate in health services research and policy in 2020; her dissertation was “Oral Health Epidemiology and Policy in Disadvantaged Populations.”

After finishing her doctorate, Khouja joined the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh as postdoctoral fellow. As a postdoc, she continued to expand her research portfolio using big data and advanced statistical methods to examine opioid prescribing and its consequences in dentistry. During her postdoc training, Khouja earned a certificate in human centered design from the LUMA Institute in Pittsburgh which she plans to apply when developing clinical interventions. Khouja has experience teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level in schools of dentistry and public health.  

Photo of Steven PratscherSteven D. Pratscher, Ph.D., joined the college on August 21 as a research assistant professor in the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science following three years in the UF Integrative and Multidisciplinary Pain and Aging Research Training Program where he completed a post-doctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Roger Fillingim, Ph.D., and Kimberely Sibille, Ph.D.  Pratscher is part of the UF Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, or PRICE, and will continue working closely with Fillingim and Sibille.

Pratscher’s research focuses on developing and testing complementary and integrative interventions as possible treatments for chronic pain that also have the potential to improve whole person health and well-being. Specifically, he is interested in investigating the efficacy and biopsychosocial mechanisms of action of breathing self-management practices, breathwork interventions, and psychedelic-assisted therapy.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2015. He then attended the University of Missouri in Columbia where he completed a master’s in psychology in 2018 and a doctorate in psychology in 2020, both with emphases in social-personality and mindfulness research. From there he joined UF and began his postdoctoral fellowship in the department. He currently research project, Developing and Testing a Multicomponent Breathwork Intervention for Adults with Chronic Pain, is supported by a K01 Career Development Award from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Photo of Astha SinghalOn May 1, Astha Singhal, B.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., joined the UF College of Dentistry as an associate professor in the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science.

A Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health since 2015, Singhal’s focus is on her research projects related to community oral health. She is also directing coursework related to her field, teaching and supervising students engaged in community outreach and clinical service delivery.

Singhal earned her dental degree in 2006 from Manipal University’s College of Dental Sciences in Mangalore, India. In 2009, she completed a master’s in public health at the University at Albany School of Public Health in Albany, New York. From there, Singhal completed a dental public health residency in 2010 at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2015, she earned her doctorate from the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry in Iowa City, with a concentration in dental health services and policy research.

From 2015 until coming to UF, she was an assistant professor for Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Health Policy and Health Services Research. During her time there, she served as the interim program director for the school’s Advanced Specialty Training in Dental Public Health.

Singhal’s work has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals, she has contributed to policy briefs and reports and, among other activities, has presented for seminars and forums throughout the United States. She is a member of the International Association of Dental Research, American Associate of Dental Research, Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network, American Association of Public Health Dentistry and Academy Health.

Photo of Larissa StrathOn June 5, Larissa J. Strath, Ph.D., joined the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science as a research assistant professor as part of the UF Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, or PRICE.

In May, Strath received a $1.3 million, five-year K99/R00 grant from the National Institute’s of Health National Institute on Aging. The grant, Pain and Nutrition in Dementia and Alzheimer’s (PANDA), funds her exploration of nutriepigenetic mechanisms connecting chronic pain and cognitive decline in older adults with knee pain.

While her time is focused on research, Strath also works with graduate and undergraduate UF students as a mentor.

Strath majored in biology with a minor in chemistry, earning her bachelor’s degree in 2016 from Faulkner University in Birmingham, Alabama. She then earned her doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama, in July 2021.

She has participated in presentations at numerous conferences and in publications; her first co-authorship was published in Pain and Therapy in 2020, “Dietary Interventions for Treatment of Chronic Pain: Oxidative Stress and Inflammation.” Strath has also received numerous awards for her research endeavors, most recently the Gregg Steele Outstanding Graduate Student in Behavioral Neuroscience in 2021.