Conrado Aparicio receives Century Club Professor of the Year Award

Conrado Aparicio, PhD, MScEng

Conrado Aparicio, PhD, MScEng, is the real deal. He is the consummate educator with superb student evaluations and a mentor of award winning students at all levels of professional education. Lauded by students as “100% good” and “a precious treasure”, he also is universally respected by faculty and colleagues as a scientific pioneer and thought leader with a global reach. 

In recognition of his contributions to the education, research and service mission of the School of Dentistry, Dean Gary Anderson, DDS, MS, announced on April 26 that Dr. Conrado Aparicio is the recipient of the School of Dentistry’s Century Club Professor of the Year Award. The award is the dental school’s highest honor. The announcement was made at the Celebrate Dentistry reception, co-hosted by the School of Dentistry and the Minnesota Dental Association and held as the kick-off to the association’s annual Star of the North Meeting.    

In announcing the award, Anderson described Dr. Aparicio’s passion for teaching and research as both inspiring and exemplary. He is one of just a handful of School of Dentistry faculty who teach dental and dental therapy students and also lectures to students in graduate education programs, supervises master and PhD dissertation studies for students, and mentors PhD students and postdoctoral candidates. 

Said Anderson, “Dr. Aparicio’s students and investigators describe the opportunity to work with him as a ‘privilege’ and ’one of the best experiences of my life.’ Other students say that Dr. Aparicio ‘does not just teach me basic techniques. He teaches me a thinking method, a way to solve problems independently, which benefits me for the rest of my life.' And still another says, ‘Going through his lab is the best experience I have (had) in my professional life.’ 

"Now if you’re an educator,” said Anderson, “it doesn’t get much better than that.” 

But, in fact, it does. Students across all education programs and levels of academic accomplishment describe Dr. Aparicio as patient, collaborative, inclusive, respectful, always available, very understanding, approachable, a unique personality who helps and supports all to reach their goals and grow, and as someone who “really knows his stuff."

So, what’s his stuff?

Dr. Aparicio is the deputy director of the School of Dentistry’s Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics. His investigations into reparative and regenerative medicine focus on the creation of new advanced bioinspired biomaterials for the repair and regeneration of teeth, bone and gums.

His collaborations – with scientists as far away as Asia, South America, and Europe and as nearby as the halls of the School of Dentistry – have resulted in more than 100 research papers, books and book chapters. He’s been awarded millions in grants from diverse funding sources and his investigations have resulted in five international patents.

“But he is not a dentist,” said Anderson. “He is a materials engineer whose position on our faculty makes possible unique opportunities for collaboration and exploration of science and education at the interface of scientific disciplines.”

Dr. Aparicio’s multidisciplinary research, funded by the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, focuses on improving the longevity of dental fillings for the elderly.  His investigations, funded by the Department of Defense, focus on improving the lifespan and preventing infection of prostheses for amputees.  

“In collaboration with School of Dentistry faculty member Dr. Sven Gorr -  a biochemist – Dr. Aparicio worked to develop a novel coating for dental implants that will prevent infections, the most common cause for implant failure. It’s an application with the potential for use in a broader category of medical devices and implants, such as those used for hip and knee replacement surgery,” said Anderson.

Dr. Aparicio received his master’s degree in industrial engineering (1998) and his PhD in biomaterials/biomechanical engineering (2005), both from Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain.  In 2007, he completed his postdoctoral studies in regenerative medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. One year later, he joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry faculty and was awarded the position of professor in 2019.

“Dr. Aparicio has made us a better school,” said Anderson. “He is a superb teacher who is dedicated to the ongoing education and training of our students and of those who will follow him into his fields. He has been driven to push the boundaries of biomaterials science to discover bio-inspired technologies to prevent and treat common and costly oral and orthopedic diseases. His research is exemplary and his contributions translate into everyday dental practice and beyond, with the promise of great insights to come. It is my pleasure to recognize his many contributions with this award."

The Century Club Professor of the Year award is given to one faculty member each year in recognition of outstanding service to the School of Dentistry. 

In addition to the April 26th reception, Dr. Aparicio will again be honored at a small reception for faculty, staff and students.  He also will carry the University mace and lead the procession of graduates, faculty and dignitaries into Northrop Auditorium at the School of Dentistry’s Commencement Ceremony on May 10, 2019.